A compelling fundraising appeal is crucial for securing year-end donations. This year, Americans have been flooded with political messages about the upcoming midterm elections. Since these fundraising appeal emails started early in 2014, many people have been overwhelmed. The Wall Street Journal, citing a study from Harvard’s JFK School of Government and the University of California, Berkeley reported that due to the sense of urgency these election messages convey, many political supporters tend to view them negatively.
What can we learn about fundraising from midterm elections?
The researchers revealed that contributors and potential donors were more likely to open emails and subsequently make a gift when the content was centered around a candidate trailing by a small margin in a recent poll. This move can express the urgency without directly putting it into words.
Showing supporters that it’s a close race can ignite donations because it makes them believe their involvement can make a difference.
On a larger scale, these results show organizations need to understand what will make their constituents take action, especially if they have big goals for the end of the year. However, getting fundraising appeals exactly right for your audience is trickier than it may seem.
What makes your fundraising appeal go wrong?
Creating the right message in your fundraising appeal that will motivate donors and prospects to take action is an art form. Fundraising IP offered some warning signs that your appeals may not be as effective as you think:
- Taking too long to get to the point: Nearly everyone has a mobile device now. While smartphones give you more chances to connect with your constituents, their patience may be lower than it used to be. If your fundraising appeal is too long, not only do you risk confusing recipients, but there may also be conflicting messages in it. A concise appeal won’t leave any doubts about what the next step is.
- It’s boring: Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that anyone else finds your organization as interesting as you do. Highlighting recent news at your nonprofit probably won’t appeal to donors. Instead, you need to incorporate storytelling elements to grab their attention and cause them to donate immediately.
- Not making the ask: Because some organizations are wary of being too pushy, they tiptoe around the issue of actually asking for contributions. The point is to increase donations. You need to clearly request donations to craft an effective appeal. If the copy is engaging and concise, making the ask won’t scare donors away.
How to make fundraising appeals more effective.
Using specific examples of real people who have benefited from your organization’s programs can engage readers. This is a more subtle way to display impact without loading the message with bland financial details. You can also reference the difference a small gift total would make.
Additionally, design makes a difference in a successful appeal. Utilizing white space can make a fundraising appeal message more readable, which makes recipients more likely to follow it.
Make it easy for people to respond from a smartphone or online.
To capture maximum donations, it is essential that nonprofit organizations include mobile giving instructions with keywords and shortcodes in their fundraising appeal. This makes donating with a debit/credit card convenient and can significantly supplement traditional check sending. All donation pages should be mobile friendly so people can give easily on a smartphone, tablet or pc. Additionally, keywords and shortcodes can be measured so you that you know exactly what donations and clicks came from direct mail.
By Shelly Wenk, Director of Customer Success