For a nonprofit, the end of the year signals the start of the final end-of-year fundraising push. Many nonprofits quick off this time period with a letter to thank users, summarize impact, outline upcoming goals, and ask for donations.
Giving Tuesday until Christmas is generally considered a period of giving which amounts to more than 30% of overall giving for the year. There are many strategies your nonprofit organization can use for your end-of-the-year fundraising, but the tried-and-true letter is one of the best methods for showing your appreciation and giving one final nudge for end-of-year giving.
There are best practices for writing an end-of-the-year fundraising letter, and in this article, we’ve outlined some that will guide you toward writing a letter that effectively increases donations to your cause.
In summary, the purpose of an end-of-year letter is:
- Give thanks and show that you appreciate supporters.
- Let them know your plans for the coming year.
- Gently ask supporters for an end-of-year donation.
Understanding these reasons will help you adjust your end-of-the-year fundraising letter to address the right points and make your letter personal to supporters who will be receiving it.
Below are some key points to help guide you in writing your next end-of-year fundraising letter.
1 – Show your community you appreciate them
Say a big “thank you” to your donors and supporters. This is a strong way to start your message and will immediately create a connection and a feeling of mutual appreciation between you and your supporter.
Make this appreciation a way of putting your donors in the spotlight by highlighting the impact their gifts made in furthering your mission. Make them feel like an insider and an important part of your organization.
2 – Keep your message direct and simple
Remember, this isn’t an annual report. While you want to illustrate your appreciation and the impact your nonprofit has made during the year, you also want the letter to be simple and direct enough that the recipient reads the entire thing and feels compelled to give after finishing. Some tips for keeping it simple:
- Avoid dense blocks of text. Keep paragraphs short.
- Make sure your font, style, and formatting clear and neat.
- Try to keep your message 500 words or shorter.
- Outline the key points you want to make before you begin writing your letter so that you have a clear foundation. This will help avoid unnecessary text or tangents.
3 – Tell your story
In most cases, donors are better driven by emotion. Your supporters want to hear about the work you’re doing in a way that they can see and feel. A concise way to do this is by sharing short testimonials from people who have benefited from your organization’s mission, or by sharing a brief impact story.
How powerful you make this story can help you set the stage for a final call to action to ask for donations. When supporters see the real-world impact of their dollars, they’re more likely to continue giving.
4 – Ask for Donations
It’s hard to ask for more, especially of supporters who have already been so generous to your organization. However, it’s important to remember that these are people who are literally invested in the work you are doing. They want you to succeed and they care about the success of your work. If they’re able to lend you even more support, they will.
When asking for a donation, remember:
- Make the call for donations direct. Present your call-to-action with words such as “donate” and “give” in places where you’re tempted to say “support” or “help.”
- Make donors understand the time you need their help is now — convey that subtle sense of urgency with phrases like “give today” or “help us meet our end-of-year goal by giving now.”
5 – Add a call to action in your letter
If you’re sending your end-of-year letter digitally via email, don’t forget to include links and calls-to-action. First and foremost, you need a visible donate button that will take recipients directly to your donation page. If there are particular impact or project pages of your website you’d like your supporters to see, include those as secondary calls-to-action. If you have social media pages, make sure to include links to those in the footer of your email.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that your letter should be heartfelt and authentic. Your organization is doing incredible work, and your supporters are the lifeblood that keeps it going. Give thanks, speak from the heart, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.