Annual appeal campaigns are a big deal for nonprofits. Not only do they have the potential to make a positive and significant impact on an organization’s bottom line, they set the tone for the year ahead while putting the prior year’s accomplishments in perspective. So how does one build an annual appeal that garners donations, increases donor loyalty and encapsulates 12-months of diverse and meaningful organizational accomplishments? Start by following these four easy steps:
Analyze Content and Data from Past Campaigns
Which annual appeal campaigns have garnered the most private donations? Opened the door for new corporate partnerships? Secured donations from repeat supporters? Aggregating and analyzing this data will help to identify the best hook for your annual appeal as well as provide proof points to guide other fundraising and development campaigns.
Follow the Competition
Have you ever been on the receiving end of an annual appeal that remained top-of-mind well after the letter first arrived? These are the letters to hold on to. Start a file of annual appeal letters, social appeal campaigns, etc. to draw inspiration from when your next annual appeal campaign rolls around. While your organization may have a very different mission than the examples you collect, there are key takeaways in each – be it the tone of the letter, accompanying artwork, strategic social media integration or other core components.
Refer Back to Stakeholder Insights
Whether it’s the results of an annual stakeholder survey or focus group data, it’s important to keep stakeholder feedback top-of-mind when crafting an annual appeal. What motivates people to support your organization? What is their connection to the cause? While the answers to these questions may vary widely among constituents, drafting an annual appeal that demonstrates a strong understanding of one’s target audiences is paramount to executing a successful campaign.
Consider Your Overall Strategic Plan
At what juncture do your fundraising goals and overall organizational goals intersect? The most compelling annual appeals drive donations while communicating the overall goals and vision of the organization. Most importantly, they clearly illustrate how funds raised from the campaign will help to make the goals and vision a reality.
Annual appeals are an important component of a strategic, integrated nonprofit communications program. When crafting your next annual appeal, consider how this effort will integrate with communications and marketing initiatives for the year ahead. The stronger and more cohesive the strategy, the greater the ROI will be from each communication tactic as well as the overall marketing campaign.