5 Steps to a Stand-Out Year-End Appeal

This is the beginning of the end…of the year. The time for you to bear down and give birth to the most compelling fundraising campaign you have in you! So get to it.

Email outreach is just one component of your multi-part year-end appeal campaign. But it’s a channel that increases in importance — due to your ability to time receipt precisely — as you move into the final days and hours of 2011.

Take a look at the email subject lines above — which led year-end appeal emails I received in December 2010 — for ideas on what will work (and what won’t) for your organization.  And work backwards from there!

My recommendations:

  1. Make it extremely personal, as the end of the year is emotionally weighted with review of the year past and hopes and goals for the year to come. So emphasize that connection (between your organization’s review and goals, and those of your supporters and prospects). Also, include one of your team’s name (or rotate names) in from lines and direct mail signatures.
  2. Inspire, don’t guilt. Ringing in the new year with a gift to free speech inspires me, while nudging me that I shouldn’t delay just annoys me.
  3. Launch an email series, rather than depend on a one off, tied together with a single, memorable theme. Note how Lauren-Glenn Davitian (of CCTV, I’d add that to her “from” info) first asks for a 2010-focused contribution on December 28, then returns at the last moment with a request for a contribution spearheading 2011 impact on December 31.
  4. Integrate that email series with a direct mail campaign, and social media (where you are already — don’t go out for the first time at this point.)
  5. Laser focus on your appeal during the last week of the year, rather than talking about events to come. Keep your base’s eye on the prize, especially during this week when we’re all distracted by holidays, family and honing those new year resolutions.

What’s worked for your year-end fundraising campaign, and what’s flopped?