The leaves are turning, the air is cooler, and you know what that means? It’s Fundraising Season!

Lots of nonprofits are ramping up their fundraising efforts and asking for donations, and rightfully so – it’s the best time of year for it.

If you’re not asking for a gift between now and the end of the year, you’re conspicuously absent. And you’ll get left out.

No one ever wakes up in the morning and says “I feel like giving some money away. Wonder if there’s a nonprofit I could give to?”

The responsibility is yours. It’s YOUR job to build the relationship and stay in touch. It’s YOUR job to ask for the gift.

By now, you should have your appeal all figured out. If you’re planning to mail a letter, it should already be on its way. But just in case you don’t, here are some tips you can follow to get the most from your fourth-quarter appeal.

  1. Clean up your mailing list. Don’t send your appeal to people who don’t want to hear from you anymore. A clean list, with the most current email and mailing addresses, will save you money and help you be more accurate in donor communications.
  2. Review past performance. How well have your past appeals done? How much did you raise? What was the average gift size? How about the response rate? Knowing these numbers can help you choose the right segments and lists to approach now.
  3. Be donor-focused. Don’t write an appeal that’s all about you. Don’t talk about how great the year was or how challenging it’s been – no one wants to hear that. Instead, tell a story about someone whose life has been changed by the work your nonprofit does. It’s way more interesting and engaging.
  4. Write to one person. As you write your appeal, don’t think about the hundreds of people who will receive it. Instead, picture one donor in your mind, and write to that one person. Your letter will be way more conversational and interesting.
  5. Outsource if needed. Don’t try to print and mail your appeal internally if you don’t have the resources. You’ll actually save money in the long run by having a reputable mail house prepare and send your appeal.
  6. Measure, measure, measure. Tag either the response card or the envelope if you’re sending a hard copy letter, or use a trackable link for an e-appeal so you’ll know if your ask worked or not. You need to measure response rate (the % of people who gave compared to the total number you asked) and average gift size at a minimum. There’s nothing worse than going to all the trouble to produce and send an appeal and not knowing if it was worth it.

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