February 24, 2020
by Lori Shecter

8 Steps for a Successful Non-Profit Appeal

Step 1:  For a successful non-profit appeal

The first step in a successful non-profit appeal is to ensure that the perception of your non-profit is believable and trustworthy. Perception is reality and therefore, at the very least, your organization should have a good presence on your website, FB page, and Linked-in account. That means sharing the stories of your impact through appealing visual or video ways. Your story is that “thing” that will inspire passion about your mission and compel people to donate. Stories need to be attention-grabbing, emotionally compelling, and authentic:

https://warrenvillage.org/
https://www.humbledesign.org/videooo
https://www.riverstonenyc.org/ways-we-care/

Step 2:  Storytelling tips to help your non-profit appeal 

  • Be clear – state exactly what you what or need, i.e. a donate now
  • Impact – Tell your donors exactly what they will support, why it matters, how much they should give, and how to donate
  • Urgency – Why should donors give now? What will happen if they act immediately? What might happen if they do not? You can create a sense of urgency for donors with a deadline or by introducing a matching gift

Step 3:  Timing of your appeal

Appeals should be going all year round. An appeal doesn’t start with a cold call email or snail mail. It starts with your continuing to feed the beast through your website stories and social media promotion — (which is another topic.) But you need to generate the buzz of your organization before you ask for money. If I don’t know about your organization, your stories of impact, why should I care? If you send out a monthly newsletter with updates, there can always be a discussion about how their dollars impact a person and include a story. Seasonality can be included.

  1. Determine your goals and measures of success…Do you want to raise money, increase membership, etc.
  2. Define the dollar amount
  3. Define the number of donors to get to the dollar amount
  4. Define the number of members to get to the dollar amount.

Step 4:  Define and refine your target audience

Determine your target audience and customize your approach to them. Have people (friends and family) outside your org read your appeal letter and give you honest feedback. If you are targeting a business or a corporation, hand-craft (don’t mass mail) your letter. For example

  1. New Donors
  2. Lapsed Donors
  3. Younger Donors
  4. Business Donors – Please review this article

Step 5: Evaluate your past performance review based on content and the following metrics including

  1. The open rate of your newsletters
  2. Click-through rate on links
  3. Donations generated from the newsletter

Step 6:  Your content and creative

Be unique – Send an email that looks different. You can even consider a text-based email service that gets higher click rates than HTML.  Generate a good subject line: Not so easy– think about what makes YOU open an email. Make sure a sender is a person, not an in-box.

Show the real impact of a potential gift. You can further illustrate this by having impact pages on your website. Make it easy for donors to see the relationship between their gift and what you can accomplish. The impact page on your website can support this too.

Step 7:  Create trust among your donors

Be believable so donors trust you  Add the Charity Navigator and Great Non-Profits badge on your website.

Step 8: Research your current donors

Have you have asked any of your donors at random why they give? It is important to understand all of that information as well as share it with your potential new donors. Testimonials from other donors is a great way to show new donors the power of your organization. This can be done through phone calls, one-on-one luncheons, or MailChimp surveys (free and easy to set up.)