Three Keys to a Successful Nonprofit Fund Appeal

Almost everybody has a story of exasperation with fundraisers. It can either be from the perspective of an organization struggling to collect donations, or from the standpoint of receiving repeated requests to give. There is donor fatigue as fundraising appeals grow every year. Maybe it’s a stretch to say that anyone really enjoys the fundraising process, but people genuinely do want to help, and if you go about your fund appeal in the right way, you can not only get more repeat donations, but more first-time donors, as well.

The most important aspect of making a good fund appeal is to create a compelling narrative. People like stories that will touch them, and emotional connections are what lead to larger and more frequent donations. You can’t just use the same tired appeal script over and over – although it seems like less work in the short term, people will learn to tune it out, like any repetitive advertising. Instead, explain the problem that your organization aims to tackle, tell real and recent stories of people who are affected by this problem, and let that drive your fund appeal forward.

You also want to make sure that you keep your messaging and donation process simple and clear. Sure, there are probably hundreds of things that your organization needs, and just as many ways that people could help out with those things, but the main issue right now is that you want people to donate, so don’t bore them with a lot of irrelevant complications. As we discussed before, one of your main goals in any venture should be to make things as convenient as possible, so remove as much friction as you can for your donors. Prepopulate the donor card with whatever information you have available, for example the donor’s name and address. You can also take the guesswork out of deciding on an amount by mentioning that the donor gave $X last year, and suggesting that the donation could be increased to $Y this year. When it comes to asking for money, keep it straightforward, simple, and transparent.

Lastly, don’t overlook the design of your fund appeal materials. We all know that how things look matters, so don’t leave this as an afterthought. Strong branding and imagery may feel like blatant marketing tactics, but that is in fact the boat you’re in – you have a message that needs to reach people, and it needs to penetrate the wall of thousands of other marketing messages that people are bombarded with every day. How does your design stand out from the rest? You can achieve a lot with the right choices of text, paper, and incorporating the use of die-cutting. If your appeal has a strong visual component, reflected in good design and image choices, you’ll have a lot better chance of your signal sounding out clearly above the rest of the noise.

It can be tricky to find the perfect equilibrium with a fund appeal – don’t hesitate to ask us if you need help moving in the right direction.