revenueIf you’re a nonprofit fundraiser, you’ve started thinking about your year-end appeal. You want to make it compelling, of course. You want to have the best images that capture your work. You also want to accompany this photography with written copy that will move to give to your organization.

Many nonprofits rise and fall with the money they raise in their annual fundraising campaigns, particularly the appeals sent out in the final quarter. Here are some suggestions to help you increase the annual fund revenue:

  1. Get your list in order – Believe it or not, they still exist. What I’m talking about are organizations with mailing lists in Excel that are years old. These lists have to be updated, imported into a constituent relationship management (CRM) system and segmented properly. Approximately 25 to 30 percent of your list becomes obsolete each year. People move. People die. People get divorced and change their names. Whatever the case, update your list.
  1. You don’t need to explain yourself – Since your annual appeal is going to your housefile, there’s no need to do a deep dive about your organization. They know your nonprofit. That’s how they got on your list. What you should be telling them in your letters and emails is what you’ve done. Remember to give donors some key stats and facts. Tell them a story about those you serve. In education, for example, telling one story of a young student demonstrates the work you do. It brings to life, so to speak, the experience of someone who is benefiting from a donor’s support!
  1. Include a postscript – There’s a reason why you see a P.S. in annual fundraising campaigns done by the most successful nonprofits. It works. A reader will naturally look at this Make it a point to write a powerful P.S. that will move and engage someone who is reading to take action.
  1. There’s still more work to do – Realize that this may be a time when some of your donors are re-engaging with you. Many will want to know what you’ve succeeded in doing. What more is there to do? Let your donors and supporters know what the next steps are and your focus for the coming months or even year ahead. People want to be part of a winning team. Let them know what you’ve done and where you’re going.
  1. Segment your database – Not everyone should be receiving the same message or letter. Someone who has not given to you in three years should be getting a different piece than a donor who gave earlier in the year. Technology has allowed nonprofits to be able to segment databases for little cost. Know your LYBUNTS and SYBUNTS.
  1. Reach out to lapsed donors – It takes more money to obtain a new donor than re-engage with someone who has already donated. Take a look at those who have not given to you in more than a year. Plan to reach out to them in very specific ways. You can call to thank them and let them know that you miss their continued support. You can write personal letters or notes to tell them you miss them. Re-engage with them and when they do give again, make it a point to thank them quickly and well.
  1. Make the ask – Yes, it can be hard to believe, but some organizations develop a wonderful letter and then don’t make an ask. They may want to build up in a series of letters. This is not the time for that. You should be communicating what you do throughout the year in varying ways. This is the time to ask.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: The Rise and Fail of Charities And What You Can Do To Be Ready”.


© 2015 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.