Best Practices for Year-End Appeals

Aug 30, 2019

Best Practices for Year-End Appeals

Aug 30, 2019

The definition of appeal is a serious or urgent request, typically made to the public; an attempt to obtain financial support.

In other words, you are asking for MONEY from people who have no obligation to give it to you. You are essentially making a plea. You’re making your case as to why you deserve their charitable contribution over the many other nonprofits in the world. That can be a big ask. So how can you guarantee you’ll get donations? Well, sadly you can’t. What you can do is set yourself up for the greatest result by following some best practices.

Year-End Appeals for Nonprofits – Best Practices


There are many things you can do in your appeal letter itself to enhance your chance of success, but none those will matter if your letter doesn ’t get opened. So, first things first, let’s focus on the envelope! When someone checks their nail, chances are high that your appeal letter won’t be the only thing waiting for them. People who support nonprofits get a lot of mail-from other nonprofits who are also asking for money. You need to stand out from the get go so you don’t end up blending in with the rest of mail. Choose a colored envelope or an unusual size. Have a compelling call to action on the outside of your mailer. If your budget allows, you could even consider dimensional mail to make a big impact.


Once someone opens your appeal letter, you need to catch their attention immediately and keep it. Start with an intriguing headline to grab their interest and then follow up with a story that shows the heart of your cause. Pull the reader in by using the word YOU over I or WE. For instance, don’t say “We need donations to help end homelessness.” Say “YOU can help end homelessness!” You should also personalize the appeal with the reader’s name. Put your donors front and center so they can imagine themselves making an impact directly. They’ll be much more likely to part with their money if they feel part of the cause.


This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many nonprofits get shy about simply asking for support. They hide their call to action in small font that blends in with the rest. Be bold about what you’re looking for! Use specific dollar amounts as examples to show people different levels that they can contribute and ask multiple times throughout your appeal. One of the most read parts of an appeal letter is the post script. That’s right-include a P.S. to stress how they can help.


It’s easy to come up with content when you’re considering what to include in your appeal. You have countless stories about your cause-it’s hard to choose just one. You want to include them all-plus there’s statistics that you feel are powerful. Oh and those pictures from your last event will really pull people in, right? WRONG! If you try to include everything in one appeal letter, you’re going to end up with visual clutter that overwhelms the reader. Instead, narrow down your content to only the most impactful information. Use a larger font that is clear and legible and break up paragraphs with bulleted lists and call-outs. Leave white space to let the reader’s eye rest and allow what you have included to stand out.

Now you are 4 steps closer to a successful year-end appeal!

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