How to Create an Annual Giving Letter
If writing your annual giving letter feels like a chore, imagine being forced to read it. Just getting your audience of potential donors to open your letter is a victory, but it will be a short-lived one if your copy is bland and predictable. After receiving scores of these letters every year, donors won’t bother to read yours through if it is dull. All they will see is “blah, blah, blah, blah.” You must hook your readers immediately or lose their attention and their donations. When constructing your annual appeal, consider the following rules.
Tell a Story
You can write a general “help us” letter, or you can construct a compelling account of someone you have helped or are currently helping. Simply listing your accomplishments and supporting statistics is unlikely to move your audience. A real-life story with specific details will be more likely to be effective. For instance, you can talk about your educational and charitable efforts for a group of children, or you can choose one. Telling the story of Emily, a young girl who lost her parents and needed help with her education, will motivate people to donate.
A happy, true story hooks people’s interest and helps them visualize how their dollars will help others. Give them that story and your fundraising efforts will improve. To find one, look through the thank-you notes people sent you during the year, or check your journal. Also, keeping track of these stories throughout the year will make your annual appeal letter much easier to write.
Personalize Your Efforts
Donors want you to recognize their efforts and show some appreciation. The best way to express your gratitude is to personalize your annual letter. That task may seem daunting, but there is a simple way to achieve it without taking months to complete letters.
You can use a custom field to address each letter to individual donors. That is, frankly, the least you can do to customize your efforts. For your loyal and/or “big” donors, add a personal note about how much they have donated in the past or acknowledge how they have volunteered for your organization. The extra time this step takes will pay off in goodwill and increased donations.
Write From “Us to You”
This step may seem obvious, but some people get lost as they navigate the first, second, third person wars. You need your letter to be from friend to friend so that your donors know you consider them part of the family. So use “we” and “you” throughout your message. Never use the third person. “The Second Baptist Church thanks its contributors” is a little cold. Instead, try “We want to thank you, Joe and Beth, for your constant help and support.”
Create a Theme
An annual appeal letter is an advertisement. Although that sounds too commercial, it is just a reality. You are selling your organization’s brand. People often respond better to donation appeals with a theme. Your choice doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be one that unifies your appeals for a period of time. It can be something as simple as “Giving Help and Hope. A theme also simplifies your future fundraising efforts. You can follow up in a month or so with a progress report and an additional appeal.
Design the Letter
You do not need a complicated design, but your letter should be visually appealing. A black and white single-spaced, crammed page is uninviting and hard on the eyes. You must incorporate a few graphic images and carefully choose your font and layout. Proper use of white space is essential to making your appeal look professional and inviting. Keep your margins adequate all around. Don’t cram together your text or make your paragraphs too long. A sloppy layout will make your organization look unprofessional and potentially suppress donations. Make it attractive.
The DonorWERX Advantage
For more help with your fundraising efforts, contact DonorWerx. These professionals have years of experience with nonprofit operations. Their team provides online coaching, the latest software and consulting services. In fact, it’s the perfect time to ask for help with your yearly appeal letter or any other 2020 or 2021 issue.
DonorWERX can recommend the latest software, including giving apps, which will simplify your funding and improve your organization’s workflow. And they will work with you to customize solutions that fit your specific needs. No two churches or other nonprofits are alike. For more information, contact DonorWERX today!
Your annual giving letter is an essential tool for your organization. Remember to treat your appeal letter as an opportunity and not a chore. By using personal touches, human-interest stories and visually appealing designs, you will get a more positive reaction from your donors and a bigger fundraising total. Your donors will feel appreciated and seen. If you do not make them feel special, you may lose their support.