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What do you need to run a successful fundraising appeal?

Posted May 9, 2022 by Virginia Davidson

how to run a fundraising appeal

It’s hard to be an effective fundraiser if you don’t have the tools to help you plan and manage a successful fundraising appeal.

There are so many components to an appeal: Deciding who to solicit, crafting an effective appeal letter, getting your mailing out the door, and then tracking, acknowledging, and reporting on gifts received in response to your appeal. How can you keep yourself organized as you prepare for and implement your fundraising appeal?

Erik Hanberg, author of The Little Book of Gold, shares that appeal mailings “are all about attention to detail; stay on top of the details and you’ll do fine. Plan ahead and you’ll get through yours painlessly.”

To make a plan and pay attention to the details, though, you need to understand all the details you’ll be managing and why they’re important:

What does your organization need in order to run a successful fundraising appeal?

  • A way to track donors and prospective donors so you can decide who to include in your appeal
  • The ability to target specific groups of constituents in your appeal, such as lapsed donors and prospective donors
  • The ability to generate appeal letters that pull in personalized information, such as a salutation and a specific appeal ask amount
  • A system to accept gifts via check and online, document those gifts, and send acknowledgments to the donors
  • A way to report on your appeal

Why are these elements so important to a successful appeal?

  • They help you set realistic appeal goals and target your solicitations
  • They document your work, so you have a record to refer to
  • They enable you to steward donors and prospects effectively over time
  • They provide you with essential information that you can use to evaluate your appeal and plan for future appeals accordingly

Do you feel comfortable making an appeal plan and implementing that plan? Are you able to evaluate your appeal so that you continue to fundraise more effectively? The Appeals functionality in Little Green Light is a powerful tool that can help you plan for, manage, and report on your fundraising appeal.

To help you plan for and manage an appeal effectively, we’re sharing two resources that will deepen your understanding of the appeal process and, for users of Little Green Light, will provide you with specific tips to help you get the most out of the Appeals functionality.

The first resource we want to share is Erik Hanberg’s The Little Book of Gold. Forbes rated it as a Top 12 Must-Read Book for Nonprofit Employees, and it’s full of practical, actionable fundraising wisdom.

The second is LGL’s Companion Guide to The Little Book of Gold. Each chapter of Erik’s book covers an essential aspect of fundraising, and in our Companion Guide we’ve written corresponding chapters to show you how to use Little Green Light to implement Erik’s advice.

How to access “The Little Book of Gold” and LGL’s Companion Guide

For Little Green Light customers:

Little Green Light customers can download their FREE digital copy of Erik’s book, The Little Book of Gold, along with LGL’s Companion Guide, right from within their LGL account. Simply visit the Help page in your account and click the blue “Get free copy” button at the top right of the page. Your free copy of The Little Book of Gold is available throughout 2022.

For non-LGL customers:

Erik Hanberg’s The Little Book of Gold is available at Amazon, the author’s website, and wherever books are sold.

LGL’s Companion Guide is available as a free download at


After reading this post, are you contemplating how you might strengthen and streamline your appeal process? If so, we recommend you read chapter 3 of Erik’s book. He takes you through each step of the appeal process, including how to “craft an honest, well-written letter that clearly makes a case for giving.” And, for LGL users, chapter 3 of our Companion Guide demonstrates how to use the Appeals functionality in Little Green Light to put Erik’s advice into practice.


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