Annual Appeal: Embracing the Individual Donor

Holiday bells are ringing, the smell of grandma’s homemade fruitcake is in the air, eggnog is flowing, and the purse strings are being loosened. You know what that means- it’s annual appeal time.

Annual appeals only come once a year, at a time when over a quarter of all giving occurs

So how do you and your organization make the most of this special time? In the spirit of good holiday cheer, you need to learn to EMBRACE.

What the heck does that mean, you ask?

EMBRACE the process

Put thought into your appeal, plan early, develop your idea, and have it in the mail on time- see our last blog post for more on timing of an appeal.

EMBRACE your donors

People give to people. Maintain relationships with as many of your donors as you can.  Call them to get feedback on your latest project, or see if they have ideas.  Hold donor appreciation events and encourage board members to develop relationships.

EMBRACE the individual

Segment your donors, if it’s practical. Allow your appeal to speak to their interests, their giving level, etc. Make sure your staff is informed, helpful and pleasant if donors have questions, comments or concerns; remember “at the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”–Maya Angelou

EMBRACE the donor experience

Do a walk through of your appeal , open a mock up, and see how it makes you feel. Use your friends as Guinea pigs (what are friends for, right?), get reactions, see what works and what doesn’t.  If something does not work, you now have the opportunity to change it.

EMBRACE this article  

Read this article, read it again, think about the principles it discusses and then read it a third time.

In case the holiday season has you scrambling, here are the highlights:

Sob stories don’t work. “We intervene not because of stories of desperate circumstances but when we can be cheered up with positive stories of success and transformation.” Tell a compelling, uplifting story and people will respond.

Mother Teresa said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” Use one story about one person, not five, or three or even two.  One compelling success story that is representative of the good your organization does is the best method to bringing home the bacon.

EMBRACE the fact that everything has been done before; the good, the bad & the ugly

Know that, even though you are wonderful and unique and special… your organization is among 1,532,250 other nonprofits in the U.S. vying for people’s money. While you may be innovative, remember that what differentiates you is learning from other’s mistakes and successes.  What puts you on top is embracing best practices.

Having trouble digesting all of this know-how? Let us help you embrace the process and get the largest return out of your annual appeal.

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