Spring is marked by fresh starts, so let's reignite your Spring Appeal with the following best practices!
Communicate to motivate: let’s get back to basics for a moment. Great communication is the basis of great fundraising, so make your letter great by conveying the proper tone and by making your content too compelling to ignore. It’ll move first-time prospects to make a donation, while re-engaging your current base of repeat donors. People who feel connected, understood, and valued will remain loyal and will advocate for your cause. That’s a powerful thing to harness! Here are some best-practices to make your letter stand out:
Appeal to your readers’ emotions: people give when you touch their souls, and the best fundraising letters answer the fundamental question they have of themselves…”Am I a good person?” So gather some compelling, real-life stories and connect people’s hearts with your mission
Convey impact: now that you’ve made that emotional connection, convey the real-life impact a donor’s gift has on a person, group, or community. Demonstrating impact matters greatly to donors, and this will put an exclamation point on the wonderful experience your donor is having with your organization. Here’s an example that delivers impact: because of you, 120 children were given winter coats during December's coldest days.
Write for your readers, not your college prep English teacher: fundraising letters that work are written in a conversational tone that donors understand, so don’t go high-brow. It’s a turn-off!
Make “YOU” your ‘go-to’ word: The more you talk about your organization and all its virtues, the more excluded a donor feels. Avoid this potential pitfall by using words that have impact and put the donor right in the middle of your story. Examples include: You, Our, Will You?, Would You?
Make it personal: you open a letter and the first thing you’re met with is, “Dear Friend”. This fails to connect and creates a divide out of the starting gate. A personalized salutation is the door that invites your donor in for a long and rewarding relationship. And all those relationships add up to sustained success for your organization.
Punch it up with visuals: we’re visual learners, so use infographics and images that bring your story to life and convey what words cannot.
P.S. – did we mention adding a P.S.? Since the PS is one part of your letter that donors really do read, include something here that’ll motivate your donors to take action. Some examples include: reiterate the deadline for a gift, point the donor to your website, or give
donors your contact information and invite them to call with any questions.
Get that 2nd Gift: it’s sound practice to ask for a second gift within 3 months of receiving the first gift, so the timing and success of your Spring appeal makes this a critical piece in keeping your organization on solid ground all year long. As you may know, 65% of first-time donors never give a second time. Securing a second gift is nearly as important as the first, for once a first-time donor gives a second gift, there's a 63% chance they'll give again! So, let's stack the odds in your favor when planning your Spring Appeal:
Make data your friend: you've secured that first donation and you've thanked your donor in a prompt and personal way. Now what? If you're keeping clean data, segmenting properly, and tracking all your activities, you know the exact amount of that first gift. So why not reference your donor's first gift and ask for more the second time around? Remember, it's still about the "ask". Don't let all that time you invested in your new donor become just another statistic.
Stay top of mind: remember what we said about great communication...it makes for great fundraising. Use your appeal to remain top of mind with your donors. Update, inform, and connect with them in a way that confirms their allegiance to you.
Three Times (or more) is a Charm: an integrated communication plan across all platforms (web, email, social, mobile, and video) is a must-have, without question. But direct mail continues to remain a vital cog in the fundraising machine. Sending out appeals 3 or 4 times per year remains quite effective in securing donations. Provided you understand the interests and behaviors of your various donor groups, and provided that you're segmenting properly to reach these groups, the right letter written in the right tone to the right donor will yield wonderful results.
A Successful Spring = You’re Half-way Home: it’s time to take inventory…if you've continually communicated with donors in a way that motivates; if you secured a second gift; if you've used your data to its fullest potential; if you've remained top of mind with your donors; and if you realize the value of ongoing mailings, then you should expect to see donations that are roughly one-half of what you brought in at the previous year's end. What a great way to usher in Spring!
Here’s the bottom line: by using your Spring appeal as a blueprint for future mailings, you’ll have nailed down the essentials of what it takes to keep your entire organization renewed and re-energized all year long.