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5 ways to inspire action with your year-end nonprofit appeal

November 10, 2021
Two men look at a laptop and discuss how to inspire action with a year-end nonprofit appeal.

The end of the year presents valuable opportunities for your nonprofit organization to make the most of donors’ heightened generosity and send out a year-end fundraising appeal. Around 31% of all annual gifts occur in December, so take the time to craft compelling donation requests that will carry your organization’s fundraising momentum into the new year.

In order to stand out from the crowd and encourage people to donate, you’ll need to do your research and employ thoughtful language that inspires action among your supporters. To help your nonprofit appeal reach its full potential, we’ll walk through five effective strategies to motivate giving in your next appeal.

1. Know your audience

The key to all successful, donor-centric fundraising is understanding your nonprofit’s donors. Review the information you’ve collected in your donor management system, such as average gift size, past involvement with your organization, and giving frequency, and use these details to tailor your nonprofit appeal.

If you’re looking to gather more information on your supporters, consider making phone calls or sending out a mailed survey for feedback on their relationships with your nonprofit. Ask questions such as:

  • What inspired you to make your first donation to our organization?
  • Why do you continue giving here?
  • Which of our programs or initiatives are you most interested in?
  • What do you like most about the information you receive in our email newsletter or other updates?

Additionally, you can use your donor profiles to segment your supporters into different groups to send more relevant, personalized communications to each one. For instance, you could separate them into monthly donors, major donors, and online donors to effectively appeal to each segment.

2. Draw from your supporters’ feedback

Collect and keep track of words that resonate strongly with your supporters based on their previous communications with your nonprofit. If they’re repeating any words in survey responses, phone calls, or at events, incorporate them in your next nonprofit appeal.

For example, a social services agency’s supporters might commonly use adjectives such as “caring” and “compassionate” when describing the organization. These recurring words can help you determine what makes your nonprofit unique in the eyes of your donors and implement that into your year-end appeal, donation page, newsletter, social media posts, and more.

3. Create a sense of urgency

An effective year-end nonprofit appeal doesn’t just convince donors to give, but to give immediately. By instilling a sense of urgency throughout your message, you can encourage supporters to take quick action in support of your organization’s purpose.

Focus on the “why” of your donation request—the tangible impact that your donors’ gifts will make if given promptly. To inspire your writing, take a look at these examples of urgent calls to action:

  • Your generous gift will be doubled if you give before December 31.
  • The cold of winter is upon us. Help people get into a warm shelter today.
  • Donate now to help supply medical treatment to these abandoned animals.

Incorporate your call-to-action in a clear and obvious location in your fundraising appeal, such as at the top of the page or in bold print. This will capture your audience’s attention and compel them to read through the rest of your message.

4. Make your nonprofit appeal easy to digest

Your nonprofit’s fundraising appeal should be memorable and effective. Whether you’re communicating your appeal through direct mail, email, a video, or several of these, maximize the impact of your message by making it easy for readers to understand its meaning at a glance.

Consider incorporating these best practices into your year-end appeal to ensure that it’s easy to comprehend:

  • Use an online Flesch Kincaid test. Focus on writing in a conversational style and feel free to use contractions or one-word sentences. Read your appeal out loud to make sure it sounds as natural as possible. You can even dictate your appeal by using the voice tool on your phone or computer.
  • Use a simple design. Plenty of white space, headers, and bulleted lists will facilitate the reading process for your audience, allowing them to quickly absorb the information in your appeal. Re-read your message multiple times for opportunities to break up the text and use bold formatting to call out important points.
  • Incorporate visuals. Adding photos can enhance the power of your nonprofit appeal. All it takes is a single glance for readers to understand the message you’re visually trying to convey. Make sure these images can stand on their own or add a brief caption tying it to your appeal.

In this digital world, there’s an abundance of news and updates calling for your audience’s attention. Keep them engaged with the most crucial aspects of your appeal with simple, effective language and design.

5. Avoid jargon in your year-end appeal

Your nonprofit invests time and passion into your purpose on a daily basis, so you’re likely well-versed in all of its associated terminology. While your donors may care about your cause, they may not have as much expertise in it. Therefore, it’s essential to avoid using jargon or acronyms in your nonprofit appeal. Some useful questions to ask yourself while writing include:

  • Is there a more common word for this?
  • How do we rephrase this to have more impact?
  • If I took this word out, would the meaning be just as clear?

Opt for simple and informative language when it comes to your year-end donation requests. This way, you’ll ensure that donors better understand your organization’s purpose and why it’s important to contribute toward it.

Connecting with supporters at year-end

A successful year-end nonprofit appeal is one that centers donors in its writing. Focus on how you can resonate with each supporter when you reach out and remember the importance of communicating impact. Highlight donor contributions as a valuable driving force for your organization’s purpose and back up these statements with data, so each donor understands how they make a difference.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing