3 min Read
October 23, 2013

Who’s asking during your year-end appeal?

Leaves are changing colors. There’s a crispness in the air. Pumpkin flavored products are everywhere. Signs that Fall has arrived are all around us, and yes, year-end fundraising season is upon us here at Big Duck.

An effective year-end campaign plan requires a lot of thoughtful planning. What’s the goal? What’s the timeframe? What’s the budget? Who should we reach out to and through what channels? As you think through these questions and others, (check out Farra’s great post “12 ways to make your multichannel campaign stand out“) here’s another one to throw into the mix—who’s asking?

Take some time (perhaps with pumpkin spiced latte in hand) to think not just about what you are saying to donors, but who is delivering the message. This includes whose signature is at the end of your direct mail letter, what name is in the “from” field in your emails, and who (if anyone) is calling up past donors to remind them to give. So whether you’re working in house or bringing in outside expertise, here’s a few things to consider when selecting the voice (or voices) of your year-end fundraising campaign.

1. Learn from the past.

Traditionally, a nonprofit’s executive director, director of development, or board president signs off on fundraising letters and emails. After all, they can usually speak most directly to the organization’s need for financial support. Dive into your archives for a refresher as to who has been the voice of your end of year campaign in the past. Have your appeals been signed from the same person every year?

2. Walk in your donors’ shoes.

As you plan out your fundraising campaign, remember to think like your donors think. Which representative from your organization have you found is most appealing to your donors? Who do you expect they will most likely respond to and why?

3. Match the message with the messenger.

Even your donors who already love what you do are still going to need to be reminded to give – and it helps if there’s some urgency backing up the ask. What do you need to say to donors this year to convince them to donate, and who is best suited to deliver that message?

4. Consider a series of voices.

No matter how articulate, one person can never tell the full story of your organization. A well crafted email series that features a mix of stories can be a great tool to demonstrate the breadth of your work. For example, one email can be signed from your executive director who speaks about this year’s biggest challenges, the next from a program participant whose life was changed by your work, and another from a committed donor who can share why she chooses to give. Together, their voices can tell a more holistic story about your organization.

5. Make it feel real.

Regardless of who is making the ask, the letter or email should feel true to the voice of the sender. So if you’re signing an email from the perspective of a major donor, be sure that the writing captures that person’s real personality. Try including your storyteller in the editing process in some form or another to ensure that her voice is accurately represented.

6. When in doubt, test.

If you’re not sure this time around whose voice will most resonate with your donors, try some basic email testing. If you’re planning an email series that has two or more senders, for example, take a look at which email had the higher open and response rates after the results are in.

Who has been the voice of your fundraising campaigns in the past? Whose stories are you thinking about including in this year’s campaign? What pumpkin treat are you trying out this Fall? Leave your comments below.

Ally Dommu

Ally Dommu is the Director of Service Development, Worker-Owner at Big Duck

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