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The Value of a Follow Up to Your Annual Appeal

This is a reprise of a post from January, 2010 that bears repeating with 2011 well underway.

Did your holiday season annual appeal do well? Was your 2010 campaign better than 2009? It’s not too soon to start looking at the numbers, comparing your results for the past three years. Hopefully, your results are in a database and you can track particular donors, their response each year, and maybe even trends by age, sex other demographics. This is good information to have…and maybe you have someone on your staff who loves to analyze numbers who will look for trends and bring that information to the team to discuss and figure what the trend is telling you.
Database or no database, it’s time to follow-up with non-responders. Count on the fact that some of your donors may have overlooked you back in November and December when they were swamped with appeals from every nonprofit in kingdom come. But please don’t be discouraged! Following up on your year-end appeal is one of the best things you can do to generate additional income.
As you prepare this appeal to donors you haven’t heard from, remember these tips:

  • Remind them about your mission, and what your nonprofit is doing right now to serve the mission
  • Thank them for their past support
  • In a short paragraph, tell your donors a story that paints a picture of a person benefiting from your service

In your follow up, please do not make your nonprofit the focus. Shine the spotlight on your clients, the people who benefit from your purpose in life. Generally speaking, donors don’t respond well to “help! we just had our worst deficit!!” nor to “we’ll have to lay off staff”. Even in bad times, donors hear this variety of message as “do I want to support a failing organization?”

So…get cracking on that follow up. And if you’re ahead of the game and your appeal is already out the door, that’s great! Please write a note below, telling us how you do your follow up and the return you get. We’d like to learn from your experience!

Thanks for your attention. If I can be of any help in advising you on your fundraising approach, I’m just an e-mail or phone call away!

Steve Smith, Principal, It’s The Results, LLC. 781-334-4915.

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