Is the End-of-the-year-Appeal Important? To that question, we answer a resounding ‘YES’. Given a charitable organization has the potential to raise up to 1/3 of its annual giving at the end of the year, the words you choose, your design, how personal and the accuracy of your data base, and your method of delivery are all definitely worth your time and creative thought. People are bombarded with mailers and emails so it is critical that yours stands out and you capture the reader within the first 3 seconds. Similar to a political mailer that is attempting to persuade the reader to cast a vote, the purpose of the piece for a charitable organization fundraising solicitation is to get the reader to take action, or make a donation. What Should It Say? Your appeal should strive to: • Tell a unique powerful story. • Have clarity. • State urgency. Your letter should be simple, succinct and emotional and include these five elements: 1) A powerful opening line that will set the stage. Make a statement or ask a question that will grab the reader’s attention. 2) Tell a story that pulls at the reader’s heartstrings. 3) Present a current problem and your organization’s solution that could be executed with financial support. 4) Present your offer to the donor (donate at ______level by this date________) with the benefits (we will add your name to the donor wall, you will get a free mug in the mail, your donation will be matched…) as the Call to Action. Be Specific with exactly what and how you want the donor to do it in last couple of lines with a deadline. The Call to Action needs to have a sense of urgency around responding right away. E.g.: The match will not last after Dec. 15th for example…. 5) Always use a POST SCRIPT with an emotional message. How long should your letter be? However long it takes to highlight your organization’s mission, accomplish the above five elements, and edit the piece several times and no longer. Think about accompanying your letter with a video to bring to life your words on the page. And always supplement your letter with a social media program. This process should begin in early October to receive donations in December. How do you create an emotional, simple succinct piece that pulls at the heart- strings? Use short sentences. Tell an emotional, human story about one individual. Donors reading your letter can’t save the world, but they can relate to one individual or a family. Fancy adjectives and industry lingo doesn’t make a piece compelling and can turn reader’s off. Being human, emotional and succinct makes it powerful. Tell your story, simply and clearly. Trim the fluff that you don’t need to describe that one individual’s experience to get to the heart of your story. The letter should be donor-centered and personal– use words like “you” often, speaking directly to the reader to engage them and it should explain to them how their past support has helped your organization achieve some hurdles if appropriate. The letter should speak to their hearts not their brains. If people read nothing else, they almost always will read the opening line and the P.S. It should not look or read like a form letter but more like a personal letter you are writing to each individual you are writing to. Add pictures of people, preferably tight shots that show faces. Use headlines and underlines to draw attention to sections of content and include plenty of white space.