Best Practices: Creating a Strong Appeal

Delivering a good fundraising appeal is your avenue to reaching potential donors.

Whether your mission is simple or multi-layered, there is a lot to accomplish. It must be broad enough to be meaningful to people from differing background, compelling enough to impact them emotionally, and include an effective call to action that will motivate them to act. When you hit all those notes perfectly you’ve opened the door to a funding partnership that carries with it the promise of long-term support.

Using these “Best Practices” to create a strong appeal in email drops, newsletters, on your website, and in the messaging at your fundraiser will tell donors your story effectively and motivate them to act.

Crafting an Exceptional Appeal

Optinmonster reported that “47% of email recipients decide to open an email based on the subject line.” This makes it very important to choose wording that is enticing and leaves the recipient with enough mystery to get them curious enough to open it, rather than sending it to the trash.

Be Direct

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Along with shortening the time it takes to read a message, being direct also lowers the possibility of misunderstanding and increases the level of trust in a relationship. In your opening paragraph explain the challenge, what your organization can accomplish, and how their contribution helps accomplishes goals.

Conversational Tone

Over the last few decades people have become much savvier when it comes to marketing. A conversational tone will dissolve the barriers people subconsciously put up against advertising.

Strong Storytelling

People attach to a message most strongly through their emotional response. Using a compelling story to illustrate the need is your best tool for getting a commitment to donate. Use a first-person account or provide a narrative illustrates how important the work is to your beneficiaries.

Educate the Audience

There’s no way to know how much each potential donor knows about your work, or what specific aspect of it will connect with them. Add important information that will help people learn more about your organization.

Show Impact

Donors want assurance their contributions are being used effectively. Provide them with the evidence. It can be in the form of statistics, a testimonial, images, or by leveraging an endorsement.

Sense of Urgency

Delivering the pressure to act requires a delicate balance. Push too hard and your message will turn people off, not hard enough and you’ll miss creating the sense of urgency needed to motivate your donor community. Let your storytelling emphasize the emotion of the message and stick to directness in your communications.

Dynamic Images and Videos

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to fundraising, it’s worth significantly funding, too. Adding a photo or video can convey an emotional need that will connect with the heartstrings of a donor. When you search for the best image and/or video consider what motivates your donors and find one that speaks to you in the same way.

Formatting for Maximum Impact

People have changed from readers to skimmers due to the excess of information we are receiving every day, so it’s important that the formatting is set up to help them read it in a fast-paced way while getting the most important information out. Leave white space around the text, use sub-headings, breakout boxes, differing fonts, and text colors.

Call to Action

The call to action is another area where directness makes your message all that more impactful. Don’t mince words. Tell your donors what is needed and why then send them onto the next step: Donating!

Make Donating Easy

You’ve laid the groundwork, now it’s time to hand it over to your donors. Make it easy for them by providing an easy and secure process of completing their transactions. A large “Donate” button within your email or newsletter or a link to your website’s homepage where a button will take them to your donation page will get them there quickly and leave a good impression.

Getting Your Message Out

You’ve perfected your appeal and now it’s time to get it out to the masses. Consider your donor demographic to find the appropriate way to deliver the message. You may need to combine two or more ways to reach all your potential donors. Include current, potential, and post donors in your list of recipients.

Appropriately Timed Releases

If you plan to send out multiple appeals leading up to a fundraising event it’s important that you space them out over several months so your donors don’t feel overwhelmed. Start three months out with a reminder of the event, then follow up the next two months with announcements of speakers or events. In the weeks leading up to your fundraiser send out one or two emails containing updates, instructions, and announcements. And always include a “Donate Now” button and links to your website.

The Home Page

Make sure your is website ready for people to learn more about your fundraiser. Update your landing page regularly with information pertaining to the events. Your blog is a great place to provide a deeper look into your planning and excite donors with stories about your nonprofit. Including a fundraising thermometer on your home page can encourage people to give more to get you to the next level, and you should always have your “Donate Now” button prominently displayed.

Reaching your nonprofit’s goals begins with your fundraising appeal. There is a lot to accomplish in an appeal; you must explain your cause, demonstrate its importance, and gain the trust of your donors. Relying on these best practices as a guide, you’ll be able to accomplish all this in a creative, effective way that will excite your donor community.

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