Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's time for the end of the year appeal

Now that fall is here, it's the time of the year where every nonprofit is thinking about their end of the year appeal letter. For most organizations there timeline is something like this:

Early November- send holiday card/thank you card
Late November- send appeal letter with ask
Early December- follow up on those who have not yet donated

This timeline is what most organizations have followed year in and year out. With the current financial crisis causing donors to cut back on their giving, nonprofits are trying to make sure they don't decrease their individual donation income. For most nonprofits, that means moving this timeline up a week or two.

Yesterday, at a fundraising committee meeting, I was trying to think of ways to make sure that donors continued to donate to the organization and one thing I came up with was switching the way we do things. I was thinking that instead of calling at the end, only to those who haven't given, how about calling at the beginning?

What I mean is that we could call all donors before the appeal letter is sent, not to ask them for money, but to just update them on the organization and thank them for their past support. Then you send the letter. And of course, you would still likely do the follow up to those who haven't donated. But, I would be willing to bet that more people would donate right away and would possible donate more money. So, I'm curious if any organizations do this already and if they have found it is more effective? Or if there are other ways organizations have made their end of the year appeal stand out among the dozens of appeals people get?