Year-End Donation Downers

Around this time every year, not long after the great #GivingTuesday rush, I start to get a slew of emails from nonprofits across the country.

“Our fiscal year is about to end, give today to help meet our goals!”

“Don’t let this year end without contributing to our great cause.”

“Your end-of-the-year-donation will push us over our fundraising goals for the year.”

I get it, really, I do.

Year-end contributions are a major fundraising time for nonprofits everywhere. Some estimate it as the most important time of the year.

But please, for the love of all that is charitable, don’t bore us with the You-You-You requests.

The problem, for me, as your potential donor, is that most of you spend this critical fundraising time talking all about #1.

And I don’t mean me.

These year-end contribution letters seem to all be written using the same formula…and they are all about you!

Jerry Huntsinger, copywriter extraordinaire, says there should be only two main subjects in your fundraising appeal: the person/thing a donation would benefit, and the benefits to the actual donor.

Take a minute and absorb that of the two most important subjects in your copy… you and your organization aren’t on that list.

Donors are smart people. We know most nonprofits rely on donations. But we give for other reasons. It’s true we give to your particular organization because we believe in what you’re doing, but mostly we give because we think our money is going to make a difference.

Think of it this way. Perhaps THE most important fundraising strategy is the ability to evoke empathy in your reader. Telling us all about how you have end-of-the-year quotas to fill doesn’t inspire that empathy inside of me. Not even a little bit.

Evoking empathy gives a donor a solid rush of emotion and, if done correctly, will move a donor closer to taking action.

If you’re struggling to come up with some good ideas to hook that empathy in your readers, consider using a different tactic. Here’s a few of my favorites:

  1. Show Me Some Success. Present me with a solid example of what you have done this year with the money I donated last year. Then, show me a handful of your most important goals for next year. This money that I’d be sacrificing, when I could be buying another non-recyclable game for my kid… what will it really achieve?
  2. Tell me a good story. Whenever possible, weave into your story some of that positive success. If you can pull it off without going to the dark side, show me what will happen if I abstain from donating at this critical time of year. If you fail and don’t get my money, what will happen? The bleakness that picture paints might just be enough.
  3. Talk to me about Me. Show me, with pictures, with a good story, with an impending sense of doom, how my donation will impact my life. Will I feel good about myself? Will my favorite hiking trail get cleaned up? Will I get a new tote bag? Will you be able to satisfy your quota (Whoops, not about me! Don’t use that one.)
  4. Keep it short. I’m busy. At this time of year more than ever. Get to the point. Ask me (use the word “money!” in the first couple of paragraphs).

Above all, keep to your message and keep in mind who’s really supplying you with a paycheck.

Be sincere, respect me as your donor, and hopefully, we’ll see each other again next year.


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