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Your year-end appeal can feel a long way off in the midst of summer, but it will be here before you know it. Dedicate time now to planning your appeal, and you’ll thank yourself later.
How much money did you raise compared to your goal? How many constituents did you solicit in your appeal, and how many responded to your request with a gift? Determine the percentage of solicited constituents who made a gift in response to your appeal.
Use this information as you consider this year’s goal. Is your goal feasible based on last year’s performance? How many constituents will you be soliciting this year? Based on last year’s response rate, how much money can you expect to raise?
If you had trouble finding answers to questions about last year’s appeal, it’s likely that the appeal and its corresponding gifts weren’t recorded in a way that made tracking and reporting easy. This time around, determine in advance how you’ll code gift and constituent records so that in the future you can easily create those reports. For example, you’ll likely want to report on the amount raised by the appeal, so plan how you’ll code gift records to the appeal consistently.
The last quarter of the calendar year is an especially busy time for fundraisers. You may not be able to control the volume of work, but you can ask yourself, “What caused stress for me last year that I can improve this year?” For example, maybe last year you didn’t realize you were short on remittance envelopes and had to have more printed at the last minute. Or maybe you needed to have a particular board member add handwritten notes to appeal letters, but you weren’t able to connect with her until after Thanksgiving. Use those experiences as you plan your appeal process this year.
It can feel daunting to craft an appeal letter that engages the reader and inspires them to support your organization. Here’s the good news: You don’t need to write a polished letter on your first try. Take some time this summer to write a rough draft. You can improve it later. If you’re really stuck, use our Writer’s Block Worksheet to get yourself started. Then, go ahead and craft an acknowledgment letter for your appeal donors that continues that story or theme. If you use Little Green Light, you can set your new acknowledgment letter as the default acknowledgment template for your appeal so it’s automatically assigned as the acknowledgment template for gifts coded to the appeal.
Your organization’s year-end appeal is an important opportunity to raise funds for your mission. When you carve out time in the summer to look back and think ahead, you’ll be well positioned to launch a successful year-end appeal in the months ahead.
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