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The Nonprofit Blog

2009 Annual Appeal Readiness: Six Fundamentals

If, like most charitable organizations, you send out your Annual Appeal at holiday time, now is the time to prepare.  Whether it is a direct mailing or an email appeal, prepare the case, strategize the initiative and budget for the time and resources to do it well.  Consider these six fundamentals for success:

1.  Build your case for support:  Give the prospective donor a reason to invest in your organization and mission.

2.  Write an excellent letter of appeal:  Convene a committee of staff members representing different areas of the organization and brainstorm together to create a letter representative of the culture of your organization.  (Don't outsource your appeal letter.)

3.  Use your donor database to personalize letters:  Generate letters that are targeted to different groups of people and segmented by the amount of the ask.  (Be sure to ASK.  I've seen dozens of appeal letters that neglect to ask for a donation.)

4.  Instill confidence:  Let the reader know you are still in business and dealing professionally, intelligently and thoughtfully with economic challenges.

5.  Grab 'em with the envelope or subject line on an email:  Your letter has about 20 seconds to possibly stay alive in the hands of a prospect (before being relegated to the garbage can.)  An email may have an even shorter life.  Make the prospect feel he/she is going to miss something important if he/she doesn't open the envelope or read the email.

6.  Set Goals:  Set goals to retain and upgrade current donors first.  Concentrate your efforts on those who have already invested in your cause. 

Good luck!

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