Practical Strategies for Writing the Annual Appeal


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Writing a fundraising appeal is hard work. What’s effective for one organization may not work for another one. We’ll discuss ways to reduce the aggravation and to increase the chances of your letters bringing in more money.

Think of this workshop as a treasure trove of ideas and examples to help you when you write your next appeal. To write a successful fundraising appeal, it’s important that you understand donor motivation and donor response.

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Practical Strategies for Writing the Annual Appeal

  1. 1. Practical Strategies for Writing the Annual Appeal Ron and Sue Rescigno October 15, 2013 Use Twitter Hashtag #4Glearn Part Of: Sponsored by:
  2. 2. Practical Strategies for Writing the Annual Appeal Ron and Sue Rescigno October 15, 2013 Use Twitter Hashtag #4Glearn Part Of: Sponsored by:
  3. 3. Protecting and Preserving the Institutional Memories of Nonprofits Since 1993 Part Of: (866) 598-0430 Sponsored by:
  4. 4. Coming Soon Part Of: Sponsored by:
  5. 5. Today’s Speakers Sue and Ron Rescigno Vice President & President Rescigno's Marketing Connections Assisting with chat questions: Jamie Maloney, 4Good Part Of: Hosting: Cheri J Weissman, CJW Consulting & Services, Inc. Sponsored by:
  6. 6. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Practical Strategies for Writing the Annual Appeal Ron & Sue Rescigno 708.974.2600
  7. 7. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS What you will learn: •Why people respond to appeals •How an appeal letter should be like a personal visit •What donors really think about the appeals they receive •The characteristics of effective appeals
  8. 8. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS The Basics A direct mail fundraising appeal should have: 1. An envelope (outer) 2. A reply device 2 3. A return envelope 1 3
  9. 9. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Donor Motivation, Donor Response A. Why people respond B. Appeal should be like a personal visit C. What donors really think about the appeal D. The characteristics of effective appeals
  10. 10. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Why Do Donors Give? Donors give because… •you ASKED •they have disposable income •giving is a habit •they believe in your mission •they want to make a difference •they seek public recognition •your mission offers HOPE •they feel a sense of belonging
  11. 11. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Why Do Donors Give? (continued) Donors give because… •the organization listens to its donors needs •they are receiving insider information •your mission validates their beliefs and values •giving eases fears and guilt •for the tax benefits •giving is their duty •they feel it is better to give than to receive •you gave your donor options
  12. 12. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Personal Visit Your appeal should be just like a PERSONAL VISIT Think of your letter as a SILENT DIALOGUE
  14. 14. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Silent Questions Silent Questions are basic questions that donors or prospective donors might ask ? Be sure your letter ANSWERS those questions You should be able to anticipate and answer questions of readers Engaging in a dialogue is the straightest path to a gift
  15. 15. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Rejection Two ways your appeal can end up REJECTED: •You have a very small window to engage with your reader •The text in your appeal doesn't speak to the reader Question to ask yourself: does the appeal I’ve written spell out the benefits the reader will receive as a result of giving a gift? Always answer this in your appeals
  16. 16. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS The Clock is Ticking Your objective is getting the reader to READ the text    How do you get them to open the envelope? How do you create a first impression? Are the benefits obvious in the first few seconds? This can be done easily through pictures, headlines, and underlined words and phrases
  17. 17. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Lessons We’ve Learned…     If you’re not giving them answers, you will get inaction Donors are skeptical Human interest stories go over well – play to emotions Format and design affect how and what your donor will understand
  18. 18. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS 3 Attributes of an Effective Appeal Letter 1. 2. 3. It is a solicitation from one person to another It is an opportunity for the reader to meet personal needs or achieve personal desires by supporting a worthy charitable aim It invites the reader to take action that is specific and immediate Talk about the impact individual gifts have on the organization’s ability to better the lives of those they serve
  19. 19. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS What YOU Need to Answer BEFORE You Write: 1. What is the purpose of the appeal? 2. What do the people you’re writing to have in common? 3. What facts may be true about the majority of your prospective donors? 4. What is the mood of the people you are writing to? 5. What is the relationship of these people to your organization? 6. Does your reader have a personal connection to your mission?
  20. 20. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS What YOU Need to Answer BEFORE You Write: (continued) 7. What are you going to ask people to do? 8. What is the minimum gift you are asking for? 9. What else do you want your reader to do? 10. Why are you sending this appeal? 11. Who will be signing the appeal? 12. What is the connection between the need you are expressing and the person who is signing the letter?
  21. 21. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS What YOU Need to Answer BEFORE You Write: (continued) 13. Is there a connection between the signer and those who will read the letter? 14. What are the signer’s feelings and thoughts about the mission? 15. What are the tangible and intangible benefits of giving? 16. Why do readers of your appeal need to respond right now? 17. Is there a deadline for responses? 18. What’s going to happen if responses ARE NOT received before the deadline?
  22. 22. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Ask these questions: WHO? who will sign the letter? who will get the letter? WHAT? what do you want the reader to do? what will the reader get back in return? WHEN? when do you want the reader to respond? WHERE? where will the proposed action take place? WHY? why should the reader respond to the request? HOW? how will the proposed action make a difference?
  23. 23. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS The FUNDRAISING CONCEPT The first step to developing a successful Appeal Letter is developing the Fundraising Concept •Now answer these questions in one paragraph as specifically as possible •Write in first person singular •Address it to that one individual who will be receiving your letter This one paragraph is the concept for your appeal
  24. 24. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Fundraising Concept: to DONOR Because you’ve been so generous to the Center in the past, you’ve heard from me from time to time about exciting new developments here. I’ve told you before how far we stretch your contributions to serve the underserved in the Community. Now, a renewal gift from you of as little as $25 will go twice as far as before! Your $25 will help house the homeless children of the Community by enabling the Center to buy $50 or more worth of lumber and tools-because your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, by an anonymous donor through the Center’s new Matching Gift Program. That way, you’ll get double the satisfaction from your act of generosity-and bring new hope to twice as many of your neighbors in the Community.
  25. 25. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Fundraising Concept: to PROSPECTS You may not know me, but I’m sure you’re familiar with the Museum, which has been the centerpiece of my life during the past 20 years of my tenure as the director. I’m writing to you, a fellow resident of the City, because I want you to be among the first to know about t he Museum’s unique new Charter Membership Program. As a person who appreciates the finer things in life, you’ll cherish for many years to come each magnificent issue of our new bi-monthly magazine on the visual arts. You’ll receive the magazine absolutely free of charge as a Charter Member of the Museum. And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your Charter Membership contribution of $45, $75, $150, or more will help us to showcase the exciting work of emerging new artists in our program.
  26. 26. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Contents of The Package Basics of the Appeal: •Outer envelope •Letter/Card/Size •Reply device •Return envelope Things you should also consider… •Email •Images that connect your Appeal’s goals to your website and social media sites
  27. 27. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS P.S. The P.S. in a letter is read first 90% of the time Think of the P.S. as the final drive to action Use the P.S. as an opportunity to convey: •the deadline •the dollar-for-dollar match •the families who will benefit Remember: the function of the P.S. is to involve and motivate the reader to turn to the lead of the letter
  28. 28. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS The Body of Your Appeal Go ahead and TELL THE STORY SHOW the benefits the reader is going to receive
  29. 29. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Visuals Decide which points you want to visually point out Highlight things that appeal directly to your reader •This can be through: images underlined words or phrases bolded statements This is an easy way to: •accent the benefits offered in your appeal •answer readers’ questions •make your letter easier to read WARNING: use this sparingly. If everything is highlighted as important, it loses its importance.
  30. 30. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS Reply Device Personalize your reply device Your reply device should: •affirm the donor’s decision to take the action requested •restate the fundraising concept •detail the benefits to the donor •guide gift processing
  31. 31. RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS What About A Teaser? Entice your reader to open the mail Your teaser BETTER: •Challenge •Question •Intrigue
  32. 32. Now you have a successful Appeal Any Questions?? 708.974.2600 RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS
  33. 33. Thank you!! 708.974.2600 RESCIGNO’S MARKETING CONNECTIONS