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It’s Not Too Late! A Year-End Appeal Strategy For Procrastinators

This guide offers tips and a checklist for writing an effective annual appeal letter and launching a productive fundraising campaign.
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13 Lucky Year-End Fundraising Tips

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Year-end appeal strategies ask you to start planning in the summer and then to implement the drive in mid-October. Okay, you read that same book, but then life happened. What do you do now?

If you’ve procrastinated and now you’re late starting to plan your year-end appeal, don’t worry. You can still make it happen if you make the most of the remaining time.

Follow this plan for your year-end appeal strategy

We’ve done the work for you. Here are the last-minute year-end appeal strategies to implement now:

  • What’s your core year-end message? Focus on a clear and compelling message that resonates with your donors. Keep it simple, emphasizing the impact of their support. Also, define specific fundraising goals for your campaign and communicate them to your donors.

Here’s an example: “Your generosity this year has provided education, meals, and housing to those in need, making a real impact. Over 450 supporters made a gift so far this year, amounting to $822,075. Wow! Please continue to be the joy in someone’s life by making a year-end donation and helping us reach even more individuals in 2024. With your support now we seek to reach $1,250,000 in giving this year.” 

  • Send out an email campaign to your current donors, volunteers, and board members. Keep the email concise and compelling, with a clear call to action. Don’t forget to resend a few days later to the unopened segment of your email list, and be sure to change the subject line to something like, “Did we miss each other?”
  • If you have a social media presence, use all of your channels to spread the word quickly. Post engaging content, share success stories, and ask for support. If your organization’s social media engagement is lacking, why not ask your board members and volunteers to post your content on their social media channels?
  • Use a 90-second video in your social media or emails. According to a study by Campaign Monitor, adding video to email increased open rates by up to 19% and click-through rates by 65%. The unsubscribe rate also dropped by 26%.
  • Host a quick virtual event or webinar to engage donors. You can share your message and ask for donations in real time.
  • Make phone calls to your major donors personally. Express your urgency and make a direct appeal for their support based on the last highest gift of record plus 25%, and round up. If they made a $250 donation last time, ask them for a $325 renewal.
  • Create a simple, dedicated year-end appeal landing page on your website where donors can quickly and easily make a donation.
  • Secure a few large matching gifts by reaching out to potential matching gift partners or sponsors who can help incentivize donations.
  • Don’t overlook texting. Send SMS messages to your donor list with a brief appeal and a link to your donation page.
  • Segment your donor list. Focus on your most engaged donors and supporters to maximize your efforts. Here’s terrific guidance on year-end donor segmentation.
  • Share a compelling success story that highlights the impact of your organization’s work.
  • Countdown to year end. Create a sense of urgency by counting down the days left in the year and emphasizing the deadline.
  • Thank you in advance. Express gratitude in advance for their anticipated support, making donors feel appreciated and motivated to give.
  • Follow up: After your initial appeal, send follow-up emails or messages to remind donors of the approaching deadline.
  • Extend the deadline: If you can’t reach your goal by December 31st, consider extending the deadline into the first weeks of the new year to capture additional donations.

If you can’t do all of these, pick the ones you can implement, and get started.

Remember to be transparent about your urgency, but also maintain a tone of optimism and appreciation. While time may be limited, a well-executed last-minute appeal can still yield positive results.

Let us know below where you are with your year-end fundraising plan. We welcome your questions and comments.

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