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How to get ready for a spectacular year-end fundraising appeal

Posted January 4, 2015 by Guest Author

Year-end appeals are just around the corner, and we’re pleased to offer some helpful tips from LGL Affiliate, Felicia Terry, about how you can be prepared for the biggest gift giving time of the year.

By Felicia G. Terry – Principal Specialist, Nonprofit Software Specialists, LLC

The end of the year is near, and your development team has probably created a timeline to prepare for your organization’s end-of-year appeal. You may already have…

  • Determined when you want your appeal letters to land in your constituents’ mailboxes
  • Contacted the printer and mail house vendors and received quotes
  • Written your organization’s most compelling fundraising appeal, including personal stories, client quotes, photos, etc.
  • Determined whom your organization is mailing to and segmented your list

Is your DATA also ready for your end-of-year mailing?

Before you begin mail-merging your constituents from your donor management software (DMS) with those carefully crafted end-of-year appeals, consider these tips to help get your data ready.

1. Query your DMS for records that have been inactive for a long time. 

If you have records for constituents who have:

  • Never made a donation
  • Never attended an event
  • Never responded to any of your efforts for 5 years (and are not tributes)

…it’s probably time to purge their records or make them inactive so that you don’t pull them into your end-of-year mailing.

2. Query your DMS for constituents who have missing address lines.

For all those constituents you find with this missing data, code them as “Lost” so that you will not pull them into your end-of-year mailing.

3. Query your DMS for constituents who have missing address lines and/or city, state, or zip codes.

For these constituents, look up the addresses online to locate the city, state, or zip, and add your findings to your DMS.

4. Merge duplicate records.

Run the utilities provided by your system to identify and merge duplicate records.

5. For spouses or partners who have separate records, determine which record should be the “head of household”.

Doing this eliminates the possibility of a household receiving two appeals.

6. Query your DMS for all “active” constituents that do not have an addressee/mailing name or salutation.

Many DMS’s automatically create the constituents’ addressee and salutations. However, you might want to make sure the names of your board members, major donors, prospects, etc. have been recorded correctly.

7. If your mailing includes organizations, query your DMS for organizations in which there is not a contact listed.

This is especially important for organizations who have recently given or whom your organization interacts with on a regular basis.

8. Update your DMS addresses.

By using a service with United States Postal Service (USPS) standards, also known as National Change of Address, you can find addresses that are out of date or incomplete.

9. Identify records of deceased individuals.

By using the Social Security Death Benefit database, you ensure you are not wasting time, money, and embarrassment to your organization.


Little Green Light (LGL), a donor management and fundraising system, makes preparing data for year-end appeals a snap! For more information about getting your LGL data in shape using Felicia’s suggestions, read our blog titled ‘4 tips for keeping your LGL database healthy.’


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