How to raise more money through your fundraising appeals

28th March 2015

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid if you want to raise more money, not less, through your fundraising appeals:

  • Don’t ask. The truth is if you don’t ask you don’t get. However, many appeals fail to ask donors to give in compelling and inspiring ways. Some charities are eager to talk about their needs. And only ask once, rather sheepishly, somewhere on the second page – saying something like: ‘ We need your support to do all this so please give generously.’
  • Talk a lot about your charity’s needs. I am sure donors love your charity but at the end of the day they give for their own reasons not yours. So, stop telling them about your needs (e.g. meet budgets, pay bills, etc) and don’t hog all the success. Try to understand what motivates your donors to give (and no, it is not because they think you are the best!).
  • Don’t convey a sense of urgency. The donor might have thought your appeal was good but they filed it away to deal with it some other day. The problem is that one or two weeks later they forgot what moved them about the appeal and threw it away.
  • Don’t get donor’s attention. According to direct marketing guru Siegfried Vögele you have up to 20 seconds to hook the donor into reading the appeal! During that time they are likely to – open the envelope, examine the contents and decide whether to read on or not.
  • Are your stories compelling? Is your ask clear? Is the design of the letter clean and simple? Do your photos tell a story? – All the elements of the package need to work together for fundraising success.
  • Sound too clever. Successful fundraising copy is simple copy that a ‘distracted’ donor can read with ease. Use short paragraphs, short sentences and everyday English. After a long day the last thing a donor wants to do is read a letter full of run-on sentences, acronyms and big words.
  • Send fewer appeals. Often donors are likely to support charities that continue to keep them involved through a variety of communications. And, donors who feel appreciated are likely to give again and again, when presented with new opportunities to make a difference.