There are many tried and true practices for writing a fundraising campaign appeal but if you’re looking for a guide that actually walks you through each step of the process, you’ve come to the right place.
Top-performing fundraising campaign appeals do three things: they educate, tell a story, and inspire giving.
Before you begin, ask yourself, what are you trying to accomplish with this appeal? If you’re raising money, how much are you trying to raise? What’s it for and how does it tie into your overall mission?
Answering these questions and solidifying a goal builds the foundation for your appeal, streamlines your communication efforts, and helps guide your content which should include the following six steps:
- Attention grabbing hook
- Review & Edit
1. Craft An Attention-Grabbing Hook
The first sentence matters! With ever diminishing attention spans, an eye-catching first sentence will help readers determine whether to keep reading or bin your appeal. Some quick tips on writing a great first sentence is to keep it simple, avoid jargon, and make it action-oriented.
Some examples include:
- “Join Trinity Industries in fighting hunger in North Texas!”
- “Help CEUS fight for immigrants hurt by Covid-19.”
- “Help us unlock a $10,000 challenge grant.”
- “Help us make Play Possible for ALL.”
Alternatively, another way to capture someone’s attention is to use the psychology of
surprise. By presenting something unexpected, you’re more likely to get your audience to pause, think, and ideally read on. This could come in the form of a statistic, fact, or even question:
- “Nearly 5 million children have quit sports in the past decade.”
- “Did you know…”
2. Focus On Impact
This is the meat and potatoes of your fundraising campaign appeal and should aim to address the following questions:
- What specifically will be accomplished with this campaign?
- What are the consequences of not reaching your goal?
- Why should your donor give now?
- What impact will their donation make?
Not only does the Skid Row Housing Trust lay out the ‘What’ of their appeal well, but they also detail how donations will make a difference:
3. Include a Compelling Story (or two)
The perfect fundraising campaign appeal should be educational and sometimes the best way to educate is by telling a story. While we encourage you to include stats, it’s important to make any broad, overarching stats personable by drilling down to a client testimonial or story.
It’s easy to say “1 out of 5 children struggle with hunger” but this might make the issue sound insurmountable. Instead, being able to show how your organization has had an impact on a specific client or family can make your mission appear much more attainable.
Take CEUS Centro Comunitario, a nonprofit that provides low-cost immigrant legal services for instance. In their latest appeal, they highlight the story of Elba and her children, told from Elba’s own words. In addition to being short and sweet, by including a picture of Elba with her kids, your supporters are able to attribute a face to name.
Or, consider incorporating direct quotes from those benefiting from your program, along with images so your viewers can connect to your cause.
Testimonials and quotes from those who have been in your programs are ways to help your audience comprehend who they’re benefiting with their gift. At the end of the day, people give to people. Make sure you have incorporated real stories onto your page – even a short quote can have a huge impact on the donor..
In addition to images, you can also use other forms of media (like videos) to share your story:
For more examples of videos that bring stories to life, check this out.
Tip: To avoid a last minute rush of compiling a client story, consider storybanking testimonials and quotes ahead of time that you can easily pull from when needed.
4. Have A Strong Call-to-Action
Whether you’re asking for people to give or to volunteer, be sure to include a clear cut call-to-action in your appeal. With a call-to-action, your goal is to convince and motivate your reader to take action now.
Using action verbs and phrases such as “donate now” will help jumpstart your supporters into thinking that your campaign is something they need to be part of immediately.
The Hebrew Free Loan Society has the hallmarks of a great appeal by addressing the who, what, where, and why of what they’re raising money for. In addition, their call-to-action generates a sense of urgency by using phrases such as “Right Now”, “Please donate today”, and “You can make a real difference when it matters most”.
For more tips on how to write a compelling call-to-action, check out this blog post.
5. PS: Don’t Forget A Postscript
The postscript is the perfect place to reiterate or remind your supporters of the impact of your fundraising campaign appeal, the deadline, or anything that you really want to stick.
P.S. Thanks to a generous donor, all donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $50,000! That means your $250 dollar donation is worth $500!
Even if your audience doesn’t read your appeal in its entirety (or maybe even at all), they will read your PS. A postscript is an easy way to pack an additional punch in your appeal so why not include one?
6. Review & Edit
It’s important to have another set of eyes on your appeal before sending it out. When doing edits, see if your appeal checks the boxes of appeal best practices. If you can answer yes to the following questions, you’re in a pretty good spot:
- Is it concise? (300-600 words)
- Is the focus of the appeal addressed to the donor (‘you’) and the impact they can make with their gift? (make sure your donor is the hero of the cause)
- Does it create a sense of urgency?
- Did you format (bold, underline, italicize, etc.) sentences or phrases you want your reader to pay particular attention to?
- Is your appeal a wall of text? If so, consider breaking up your text into sizable chunks and adding images
- Did you add relevant and appropriate images or media to supplement your appeal?
- Did you proofread?
If you’re struggling with the structure of your next fundraising campaign appeal, no worries, we’ve drafted a skeleton template that you can plug and play:
You Can Help Give [Insert Impact] to [Insert Beneficiaries]
Over the last X years, [Organization Name] has been committed to bringing [insert impact] to [number & people you serve].
From now until [deadline], you can help [list what you’re doing]. By contributing to this campaign, you can be part of:
- [type of impact statement, ie: provide kids with shoes, uniforms, and supplies needed for school ]
- [type of impact statement: i.e. put 3 meals on the table for a neighbor in need]
- [type of impact statement: i.e. provide hazard pay for staff so that they can continue to assist our clients]
[Insert story and/or quote with picture]
Your gift today can make an impact in the lives of people like [name], so they can [insert impact]
[Add a postscript]
Great Fundraising Campaign Appeal Examples
1. Hebrew Free Loan Society: Coronavirus Loan Fund
Your Generosity Makes a Difference for New Yorkers in Need, Right Now.
It will take the generosity of all of us to confront what’s coming in the weeks and months ahead.
Please join us in supporting the Hebrew Free Loan Society’s (HFLS) Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan Fund to financially assist lower-income New Yorkers during this unprecedented time.
By contributing to the HFLS Coronavirus Loan Fund, you will be helping:
- HFLS extend loans to help lower income New Yorkers meet basic expenses during this time i.e. pay for food, cover medical expenses, and keep small businesses going.
- HFLS will also suspend all loan re-payments of current HFLS borrowers from now until July 20, 2020 so that they can ease their stress and focus on finding financial stability during this difficult time.
Please donate today. You can make a real difference when it matters most.
Our thoughts are with all New Yorkers, as we pray for their health and safety.
*If you are interested in making a donation via wire transfer, security transfer, donor advised fund or foundation please email Rachel Chasky, rchasky@HFLS.org so we can recognize your generosity here.
Please share our posts widely on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter so we can reach those in need.
Jonathan Crystal, Lee Maschler, & Brad Vaiana
The Hebrew Free Loan Society fosters financial stability and opportunity among lower income New Yorkers by providing access to safe and affordable credit in the form of interest-free loans. The Hebrew Free Loan Society has been in existence since 1892.
2. Skid Row Housing Trust: Giving Tuesday Now 2020
Together, now more than ever.
In this time of deep uncertainty, there is a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Over the past few weeks and months, the entire world has been coming together in inspiring ways to stand up, help out, give back, and heal.
On Tuesday, May 5th, Skid Row Housing Trust is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity and giving in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Those who are living in poverty, experiencing homelessness, and managing chronic health conditions are disproportionately affected by this pandemic. This is certainly true for our residents and unhoused neighbors in and around Skid Row, and we must mobilize quickly.
This week, we partnered with LA CAN to install hand washing stations on the sidewalks near our buildings. We organized the delivery of food with Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. We distributed hygiene kits and personal protective equipment to the residents of many of our properties. Yet there is still more work to do and we can’t do this without you!
Join the #GivingTuesdayNow movement by making a $5-$5,000 gift towards our $100,000 target between now and May 5th. Your gift will keep our vulnerable formerly homeless residents safe, housed, and receiving the supplies and services that are essential to the Skid Row Housing Trust community.
3. Invent the Summer: Help Power Our Summer
2020 INVENT THE SUMMER KICKOFF!
Don’t you wish the world was filled with innovative and creative kids? Well, now it can be with INVENT THE SUMMER!
INVENT THE SUMMER is a non-profit organization that teaches kids to be innovative and creative through a series of fun engineering challenges. INVENT THE SUMMER also encourages kids to stretch their minds and think outside the box.
Your donation will go toward prizes for our young inventors and engineers that will inspire continued innovation. Prizes might include 3D printers, 3D pens, robotics kits, Chromebooks, and much more.
“Our daughters (ages 10, 7 and 4) have loved taking on the Invent the Summer weekly challenges, and I have enjoyed watching them work together to complete the challenges. Being able to share their videos each week has motivated them not to give up when their initial ideas have failed (even after many failed attempts!). ITS has helped our daughters to appreciate that there are many different ways to problem-solve and has opened their minds to exploring things outside of their comfort zone (I was surprised when our 10-year-old opted for an engineering challenge for a Girl Scout badge “because it sounds fun like Invent the Summer”). We look forward to participating again this summer!”
4. Curry Senior Center: Covid-19 Support
Please Support Curry Senior Center’s Fight Against Covid-19
Curry is in the midst of many changes as we adjust to how to best serve seniors while in the middle of a global pandemic. For example, we have closed the Dining Room, but are still able to provide to-go meals.
So much of what we do is based on the principle that reducing isolation saves lives. However, we now must tell seniors that they need to isolate themselves in order to survive. And, many of the seniors we serve are also at a heightened risk of infection because they are experiencing homelessness, or have a pre-existing medical condition.
We need your support to fund the purchase of supplies and support programs that combat the effects of COVID-19. Any amount donated will be helpful and deeply appreciated. For example:
- A gift of $25 could assist with providing basic healthcare items that have been in such short supply: facemasks, gloves and hand-sanitizer to help keep seniors germ free.
- A gift of $90 could assist with providing microwave ovens, for seniors to heat the meals that must now arrive at Curry pre-packaged and frozen.
- A gift of $115 could assist with providing small refrigerators for our seniors so that they can store frozen meals in their rooms.
- A gift of $400 could assist with providing Ipads to seniors so they can Shelter-In-Place and communicate directly with clinic and behavioral health support staff.
Please consider making a donation today to ensure the seniors in our community, who are among the most vulnerable population affected by this pandemic, are not left behind or forgotten.
Please view this special message from Curry Senior Center Board Member, Diane Dwyer.
5. New Yorkers Against Gun Violence: #PowerInPlace
#PowerInPlace: Reducing Gun Violence and Empowering Youth During the Pandemic
During this time of upheaval and uncertainty, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Education Fund is adapting our programs and advocacy to a world of virtual learning and remote activism.
Our mission is to fight gun violence on two fronts: education and advocacy. The students we serve through our ReACTION in-school empowerment program and our Youth Over Guns advocacy arm are currently facing the dual threat of COVID-19 and the ongoing gun violence epidemic.
We know this isn’t a short-term problem. The ramifications of this crisis – including increased domestic violence, growing suicide rates, and rising gun violence stemming from the stresses of economic anxiety and health concerns – will ripple through our communities well beyond the immediate emergency.
We want to be sure our ReACTION and Youth Over Guns students – kids whose communities will be most impacted by COVID-19 and its aftershocks – continue to have access to our programs, which teach critical thinking, personal and neighborhood safety, and advocacy.
Our #PowerInPlace Programming
With school buildings closed around the city, state and country, NYAGV has launched a weekly virtual student support group and are growing our school program – ReACTION – in an online format, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and other violence prevention organizations.
We are also getting ready for our youth-led Remote Advocacy Week, May 11th-15th, where our students will advocate elected officials at the local, state and federal level for stronger solutions to gun violence.
How You Can Help
Today, we’re asking for your support. We need to raise $30,000 to run virtual programming that will reach as many students as possible – and continue to be a source of strength, stability and safety for our students. Can you donate $50, $100, $250 or $500 today?
Our programs, then and now:
For more resources to improve your next fundraising campaign appeal, check out our library of related articles:
- Fundraising Appeal Best Practices: 5 Ways to Improve Your Next Appeal
- How to Raise More With Your Annual Appeal
- 5 Tips To Writing Fundraising Email Appeals That Inspire Action
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