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The All Important Fundraising Campaigns

March 7, 2019

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Ready to start making successful annual fund solicitations? Let’s dive in!


When it comes to your nonprofit’s different fundraising campaigns, raising money for your annual fund can sometimes be left as an afterthought. With so many ongoing campaigns that are more targeted in nature, it can be easy to lose sight of how annual giving fits into your overall fundraising calendar.


However, if your organization fails to reach your annual fund’s goal you risk being unable to cover some of the basic costs required to run your organization smoothly. If you can’t cover these core expenses, your nonprofit simply won’t be able to achieve its mission.


For this reason, it’s time your nonprofit took a second look at how you appeal to donors to give to your annual fund. Annual fundraising appeals are the letters (or emails) you send out to supporters throughout the year in which you make your case for them to donate.


In these letters, your nonprofit has the opportunity to clearly outline why the reader should donate, how much they should give, and how meaningful their support will be to your organization.


Want to learn how you can use your annual appeals to better connect with supporters and translate that connection into annual fund revenue? Consider these annual fund appeal strategies to get you started:


Ready to start making successful annual fund solicitations? Let’s dive in!


1. Make your annual fund appeal personal


Perhaps the best way to convince donors that your annual fund is worthy of their support is by building a strong personal connection with them. In your annual fund appeals, bring them to the forefront.


These appeals shouldn’t feel like they could apply to any other supporter. If your readers are truly convinced that they can make a meaningful impact on your organization, they’ll be more inclined to give.

Keep in mind some of these strategies you can use in your appeal to connect with readers on a personal level:


  1. Address them by name. This might seem a little obvious, but it’s worth repeating: if you fail to address readers by name, they’re likely to discard your annual fund appeal as a form letter or junk mail. Always use your readers’ names throughout the appeal (in your salutation, the body of the letter, and in your sign-off).

  2. Thank them for past giving. There’s no bigger turnoff to donors than receiving an ask before they’ve been thanked for their last gift. Even if you’ve already thanked them for their last gift, call out their giving history specifically and thank them once more. If you remind them of how they’ve already impacted your nonprofit, they’re more likely to give again.

  3. Reference their history with your nonprofit. Another way to strengthen bonds between your nonprofit and your donors is to indicate in your appeal how long the reader has been involved with your cause. Remind them of when they first donated and reference the times they attended things like fundraising events for your organization.

  4. Emphasize how they (specifically) can make a difference. Suggest to readers that without their contributions in particular, you risk falling short of your annual fundraising goals. If they perceive their donation as indispensable, that makes it harder for them to expect that others will pick up the fundraising slack.

  5. Keep your language familiar. However, don’t be overly colloquial. Use words like “friend” and “partner” when referring to your readers to make your annual fund appeal more warm. Refrain from seeming unprofessional or presumptuous, though. While it’s important to be friendly, you don’t want to come off as disrespectful.

Take a look at this portion of an annual fund appeal letter that showcases how your nonprofit can make personal connections with readers:


Hello Jenny,


Are you ready to make an impact on your neighbors in need? Jenny, for seven years now you’ve been one of Shelbyville Food Bank’s most dependable supporters. In 2015 alone, your gift of $850 allowed us to provide over 500 families with hot meals during the holiday season.


Without partners like you, our organization simply wouldn’t be able to serve food-insecure families with the same impact. 


Thank you for always being there for our organization and the Shelbyville community.


Jenny, we need your help.


In 2018, the cost of maintaining our headquarters in downtown Shelbyville will triple with rising tax rates. Our organization is in desperate need of funding to cover annual operational expenses like these, and without the intervention of key community members like yourself, we will not be able to serve…


2. Tell a story with your annual fund appeal


Another great way your nonprofit can leverage your annual fund appeal is by using it as a platform for storytelling. Telling a compelling story about your organization can be one of the key factors in convincing donors to give to your annual fund because it makes your mission seem more real to readers.


It’s important that your annual fund appeal is both informative and “entertaining.” This means that you should strike the right balance between telling your readers that you have fundraising needs and making them understand why those needs are pressing.


Consider some of these storytelling strategies your team can put in place when writing your annual fund appeal:


  1. Highlight your nonprofit’s mission. Although it’s likely your readers are familiar with the work your nonprofit does, remind them of exactly why your organization exists in the first place. It can be worth “reintroducing” old donors to your cause, as well as clarifying your mission for newer supporters and outlining your fundraising plan.

  2. Profile those whom your organization serves. For some readers, the impact of your nonprofit might seem far removed. Show them how much of a difference they can make by profiling individuals or institutions that are directly affected by your philanthropy. You might include quotes from these individuals, or even write the appeal from their perspective.