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  • Writer's pictureDanielle M. Locke

End of Year Appeal Planning Guide

I am working with three clients right now on their year-end appeals. I know how stressful it is! What to say? When to send it? What to ask for? Uggh.

Before you start obsessing over what font size to use, check out my latest tips below for the step-by-step guide I’m using to coach my clients through the planning process!


What is the financial goal for this campaign? How else might you measure success? (# new donors, # responses, awareness, ricket sales, etc.)


What will donations be used for?


1. Why do you need the funds now? (Create a sense of urgency)

2. Why you? Why are you better prepared to address this need?


When will this campaign run? Will it conflict with any other agency events, appeals or programs? I suggest 7-10 days. After that people lose interest. Also, many nonprofits are moving away from Thanksgiving in favor of an earlier date, even into October! I’m a fan of this move. Pick a date that makes sense for you and your donors. (And don’t be pressured to do Giving Tuesday!


Who will be the recipients?

How many individuals are you planning to reach out to? Are you including local businesses, corporations and/or organizations?

1. Past & Current Donors

2. Major donors

3. Prospective donors

4. Church parishioners

5. General mailing List

6. Email Subscribers

7. Social Media Followers

8. Past Event Attendees

9. Website Visitors

10. Community members

11. Service or facility users

12. Members


What are the best ways to reach these audiences?

1. US Mail

2. Email

3. Social Media (which platforms?)

4. Phone calls / in-person meetings


Very specifically, what are you asking the donor to do? E.g. Sponsor a family, donate food, become a monthly sustainer


· Who will prepare the donor mailing list? Does the list need clean up? Who approves the list(s)?

· Who will stuff and mail the letters?

· Who will sign the appeal letters? Will the list be segmented?

· Have you made arrangements with a printer and mailing house

· Who will create and send the email appeals?

· Who will create and post on social media?

· Do you have a budget for mailing, printing, and social media ads

· What is the approval process? Set deadlines for 30, 60, 90 days before launch.


· What’s the compelling, inspirational story?

· Do you have images or video to accompany this story?

· Is there a tagline or theme?

· Do you have a Hashtag? (hint: you should)

· Do you have specific confident numbers to support the request?

o E.g. We can serve up to 52 people per night. It costs $27.25 per person, per night to provide emergency shelter, food, toiletries, laundry…

· Do you have a match for campaign donations?

· Can they become a monthly recurring donor? Are you promoting that? (this is a great PS)

· P.S. – what will you include in the 2nd most read item on the page?

· In what ways can they donate? Online, mail, Facebook, in-person, etc.


If a story was popular, use it again! It doesn’t matter, no one will remember and if they do – they’ll be inspired again! Honest. You will be all good. Breathe easier.

· Social posts

· Previous Newsletters

· Mission moments

· Testimonials & Quotes

· Past appeals

· News stories

· Existing Marketing Materials

· Previously Designed Ads

· Photos & Videos

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