How to Raise More Money Through Your Holiday Appeal

How do you conduct your holiday appeal? I have worked at several nonprofits that have each done it differently.

They all sent out direct mail appeals, physical letters. For some, the only thing left to do was receive and record donations and send thank you letters. For some, the letter was followed up with a phone-a-thon. That improved response rates, but it was labor intensive. Some organizations sent the letter and then followed up with one or two emails. That increased response rates and was much less labor and time intensive than a phone-a-thon.

Of the three approaches I’ve described, the third approach is my favorite. Let me tell you what I advise my clients. 

For those donors you have physical addresses for, send out your holiday appeal by snail mail around Thanksgiving.  Just before Thanksgiving is an ideal time. For those donors you do not have physical addresses for, send your first email. Take both lists and develop a master email list.  

Then prepare four emails, each one shorter than the rest. Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ liberally. Just like in your appeal letter, don’t write about your organization or the request for a donation. Write about the values your agency and the donor share-following it up with a call to action. Creating the emails should take no more than a couple of hours to write and schedule.

In your first email, let your recipients know why they are receiving the email, that is, to follow up on your earlier letter. Your content should be a summary of your direct mail piece. In your second email, let your recipients know that you are following up on a previous email. And make your content a short summary of your previous email.  In your third email, you want to add some urgency. And it should be brief and to the point. In your last email, make it very urgent, and so short it is almost terse. 

Send your emails throughout December. Specific date for 2021 are December 6 or 7 for your first email, December 16 or 17 for the second email, December 27 for the third email, and December 29 for the final email. Delete donors from your master list as their donations come in and configure new email lists before you send out each of your messages. Only send to those donors who haven’t given yet. And exclude those donors who have recently given or are being courted for bigger gifts.

I like this method because it increases donations without investing a ton of time. Perfect for busy nonprofit professionals. Try it. See how much more money you raise.

Next Steps

Let’s talk about where your nonprofit is in its fundraising journey and what your next steps are.  You’re invited to schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session with me.  During our time together, we’ll clarify the issues your nonprofit is facing, explore possible solutions, and develop a plan of action.

I look forward to speaking with you!

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