[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

Help! My Appeal Letter Failed

imageYear-end can be a very stressful time for a fundraiser. Especially, when many nonprofits are relying on the success of a fall direct response appeal, with a disappointing average success rate of two-percent participation.

If your appeal has reached two-percent participation, congratulations! The tips below will help you surpass your goal even further. If your appeal has not reached this threshold, there’s still hope! Successful nonprofits don’t just send their final fall appeal and hope for the best. They have a comprehensive strategy to finish the year achieving their benchmark goals.

Try the below tips to increase your participation rate of the appeal:

Personalized email

Send personalized emails to previous donors who have not yet responded to your appeal. Build upon the fall appeal messaging. Ask for a specific amount and make online giving easy with a “Donate Now” link on the email.

Personalized call

Make calls to previous top donors who have not yet given this year to tell them how much their past support has meant to your organization. Let them know you are really hoping you can count on their support again this year.

Personalized thank you

Review your donor list to deepen donor loyalty. Consider who needs a special thank you in addition to the standard thank you letter all donors should receive within 48 hours of receipt of their gift. Set benchmarks: Which donors gave more than $X? Which ones gave for the first time? Who upgraded from their last gift? A handwritten note, ideally from a volunteer board member or client, will set your organization apart from the rest.

As we approach the end of the year, there’s still time. Don’t hesitate to send an email, pick up the phone or write a letter. Contact your best previous donors to make this the best year-end ever.

Janell Johnson, Senior Vice President (Wilmington, N.C.) [email protected]

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Join Us on the Growing Philanthropy Tour

Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook’s mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:

Scotland, U.K.
February 7-9, 2018

Great Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

February 28-March 3, 2018

ALDE IGNITE International Conference
Massive Fundraising
Adrian Sargeant

July 2018

Iof Convention 2018
Adrian Sargeant
Jen Shang

Past Stops on the Tour

Resources for Smart Fundraising Available on Kindle

Keep up to date on the latest fundraising trends with the Kindle ASR Media collection:

  • Reality Fundraising – Ideas, insights and lessons learned through hundreds of best practices from nonprofit professionals nationwide by Bob Hartsook
  • Fundraising Leadership – The definitive source for empowering board members to become pro-active fundraising leaders by Karin L. Cox
  • Getting Your Ducks in a Row – A tool box of strategies for effective campaign fundraising by Bob Hartsook
  • Million Dollar Gifts – Real-life stories of million-dollar gifts that will amaze and inspire your fundraising by Bob Hartsook
  • Closing that Gift – “29 secrets” to closing a gift and avoiding the top 10 solicitation mistakes by Bob Hartsook
  • Performance-Driven Fundraising – Handy, yet entertaining reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers by Matthew J. Beem
  • Nobody Wants to Give Money Away! – Stories, humor and more than two decades of fundraising experience in which Bob explores the nine fundraising truths essential to success by Bob Hartsook
  • On The Money! – An enlightening collection of success stories and lessons learned from nonprofit fundraising campaigns nationwide by Bob Hartsook
  • $231 Billion Raised and Counting – by Bob Hartsook, Matthew J. Beem, Karin Cox and over a dozen Hartsook consultants and clients. Hartsook shares stories and “Strategies for Success” that will educate and inspire

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Book Deal of the Month

On the Money! (ASR Media) is an enlightening collection of success stories and lessons learned from 25 nonprofit fundraising campaigns nationwide. Click here to order On the Money! for a special price of $10 (plus shipping and handling).

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On the Web

Blogs and articles. President and CEO Matthew J. Beem and Founder and Chairman Bob Hartsook regularly share simple, but powerful messages about philanthropy, fundraising and the power of relationships.


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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].