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How to Raise More With Your Annual Appeal

Ah, the annual appeal. I’ve run a few of these in my time, and I must say, they sometimes feel like a rush to the finish line. However they are also my favorite appeal to run.

Every organization should have an annual appeal, and it’s ideally your biggest appeal of the year.

For those of us across the pond in Australia, our end of the financial year is June 30, so it’s more of a mid-year rush than an end-year for us. Having it on the same date every year though gives us plenty of time to plan in advance.

Your annual appeal is an opportunity to “go big” with your fundraising – mostly because there are more people looking to donate at this time of year, so you can capitalize on that momentum.

All too often though I see organizations invest their time and resources into one channel, like direct mail.

They forget all the other activities that help to drive a successful annual appeal – until it’s too late. It’s important to plan early, and plan well with a multichannel strategy that will help you to raise more money from new and existing donors.

So with the end of the year fast approaching (too fast for my liking), here are my top five tips to help you raise more money with your annual appeal.

1) Set Up An Online Fundraising Campaign For Your Annual Appeal To Make It Really Easy To Donate Online

While direct mail still raises the majority of appeal income for most organizations, more and more people are going online to donate every year.

Even if people don’t intend to donate online, they may visit your campaign to find out more information.

So setting up an online campaign page will serve as the home base for your initiative. Implementing a multichannel fundraising campaign that drives all traffic to this page will enable both new and existing donors to easily support your cause.

Digital channels in particular can help you target different sets of your audience, as well as target new audiences with ongoing, updated content (that you just can’t do with direct mail).

To get started with a multi-channel approach to your annual appeal, you can:

  • Set up an annual appeal campaign page with a unique URL. Ensure that you can place this URL on your direct mail packs so you can direct traffic to your campaign and give them the option to donate online.
  • Feature your annual appeal somewhere on your organization’s homepage – either through the header image, a tile on the page or a pop up. Make sure the donate button on your homepage redirects to your campaign page too.
  • Track and update your online and offline donations on your campaign page so it’s accurate, and your community can see the progress in real time.
  • Ensure your page is appropriately branded and mobile friendly – read 9 ways to streamline your year-end efforts using an online fundraising platform for more tips and ideas.
Faith in Action online campaign page using the causevox platform
Faith In Action’s Annual Appeal raised over $107,000 by using a multi-channel approach, including an online fundraising campaign on CauseVox.

CauseVox can help you raise more with less effort for your annual appeal. Create your branded online fundraising campaign to drive more donations for your annual appeal.

2) Use Digital Channels To Boost Your Direct Mail

Our letterboxes are just as crowded as our inboxes, particularly at this time of year, so you need to communicate with people on a variety of channels.

Digital channels are a great way to remind your donors to respond and they keep people engaged throughout the entire appeal, not just with fundraising asks but with more information about your initiative.

  • Use email to “sandwich” your direct mail. For example, send an email before and after your direct mail drops to tell more of your appeal story and to remind your donors to respond.
  • Use email to “countdown” to the end of your annual appeal, to help drive any last-minute online donations.
  • Upload your donor list to facebook, and target with them videos and content that supports your annual appeal (especially video – it’s the one thing you can’t send via direct mail).
Example of a sandwich email used during an annual appeal
Here is an email we recently sent, on the 29th June, to encourage people to donate in the last few days of the campaign – use the deadline to build urgency

3) Have A Target And Communicate It To Your Donors

Every annual appeal has a target. And no, having an internal target is not enough – your donors don’t care whether or not you achieve a 15% growth.

You need to communicate the need with your donors, more specifically why you need to raise a certain amount of money, and what impact that amount of money is going to have.

  • Set a target on your campaign page, and update it constantly when donations come through, both online and offline.
  • Communicate your target with tangible outcomes. For example, “$100 will help us provide 25 meals in the next 6 weeks”. Having specific price points helps your donors choose the right amount to give.
  • Use your target as a means to continue communicating with donors beyond direct mail. For example, “we are at 75% of our target with only 3 days to go – will you help get us across the line.”
Donation amounts on a campaign page for an annual appeal
Here is a great example from BAYCAT, using the CauseVox donation page to describe what each donation will achieve. This helps your donors understand the real, tangible impact of their donation.

4) Segment Your Donor Lists And Treat Them Like The Wonderful Individuals They Are

Your annual appeal has two main audiences – new donors and existing donors.

These audiences require slightly different approaches and they can be segmented even further with profiles such as last gift date, gift amount and type of supporter.

While they all need to understand the need and the impact of your appeal, you may want to create some specific communications for each of your segments.

  • Segment your emails into lists that make sense to your organization – this might be acquisition lists, volunteers, members and donors.
  • Send mid-value donors more “premium” communications, such as a personal email from your CEO. Ask them for a higher value gift than you would ask your acquisition audience.
  • People who are in your acquisition “list” are generally new to your organization and need to know a bit more about who you are, so use email and social to tell them more about your organization’s story.
  • Don’t forget to thank and then segment out people who have already given – there’s nothing worse than being asked again, right after you have already donated.

Pro Tip: Don’t leave it to your annual appeal every year to communicate with your donors. Keep your donors engaged throughout the year by sending regular communications that demonstrate the impact the donor is having.

The more engaged and “special” the donor feels, the more likely they are to continue supporting you.

Facebook share of participants in a peer to peer fundraising campaign
If a donor signs up to fundraise for you, or someone gives you a large gift – give them a shoutout on social and help build connections between your supporters.

5) Incorporate Other Strategies Like Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, Social Sharing, Or Events

You may have supporters who prefer to give to you in a certain way, so it’s important that donors have all options available to them. Consider running an additional peer-to-peer campaign as part of your annual appeal.

We see that peer to peer fundraising campaigns can raise twice as much compared to generic online fundraising campaigns. It’s also a great opportunity to engage your entire supporter base from loyal donors and volunteers to your staff and board.

People are more likely to give to someone they know, so peer to peer can extend the reach of your campaign to new supporters. Try setting up a peer to peer campaign alongside your annual appeal to really stand out and raise more for your annual appeal.

A few other strategies that will bring your community together include:

  • Host a fundraising event during your annual appeal to raise more awareness and/or donations for your campaign – don’t forget to add these to your campaign page if you do.
  • Use Facebook or email to ask people to create a peer to peer fundraiser – this might work well for donors who have already donated as it is a way to get their friends involved.
  • Ask donors to share their donation and/or support on their social channels – it can help you reach more potential supporters and help you uncover who your best advocates are.

Pro Tip: Try a “matching day” for your annual appeal this year – where every donation made on a certain day or within a certain timeframe will be matched by a corporate sponsor or another generous donor – matching gifts are worth trying to secure at this key time.

Participants in a peer to peer fundraising campaign
A peer to peer campaign can help you raise even more funds for your annual appeal, as well as create connections and community between your supporters

Declutter Your Annual Appeal With CauseVox

There are a lot of different ways you can use a multichannel fundraising strategy to raise more for your annual appeal.

Whether you’re setting up an online campaign page, using social to target your donors or creating a peer to peer campaign – CauseVox can help you tidy up your annual appeal so you can raise more with less effort.

Learn more about how you can use CauseVox for your annual appeal.

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