Today, we’re going digging into the year-end appeal and I’m sharing the three things you need to include in your letter. This is very specific for 2020. As you know, this year has been very unusual so that means that your year-end appeal needs a new and fresh update. Did you know that a quarter of all nonprofits will bring in nearly half of their income off of this one letter? For some organizations, this letter is huge, it is a really, really big deal that this is done well because it brings in and it generates a lot of income for the organization. For others, roughly 40%, bring in less than 10% of their money off of this year on appeal. This just means you have to know your cause.
One of the first things that I want to share with you is that you have got to customize your 2020 letter, this year’s letter has got to look different. The majority of nonprofits are going to put together this letter in October because they want to get it in the mail in November or December. I want to make sure that you are really clear about what your communication strategy is with people over the course of these next three months. Don’t just send out the letter cold where these people haven’t heard from you in years. That’s a really bad idea. And it’s going to fall flat. No matter how great your letter is, if somebody hasn’t heard from you in a long, long time, they’re not really engaged. So, you may be wondering if you should send your letter by email or snail mail. Either one is fine. Hear me out; either one is fine but direct mail is better. Direct mail costs more so I understand why you’d say it’s just not cost-effective to do that right now. The number two option is to do an email campaign that includes your year-end appeal at the end. Regardless of whether you drop this in the mail or you actually send it out by email, note that you want to make sure that you have those touches at least 1-3 times before they receive your appeal at the end of the year. 31% of all donations come in, in the month of December, and 12% of those donations will come in in the last three days. So with your year-end appeal, just make sure that you create that urgency, and you also are paying attention to the calendar, because that is going to make a huge difference.
Because we’re in 2020 and in a global pandemic, nobody knew that, right? You have to make sure that you address the elephant in the room. You need to include that in our year-end appeal; what have you been doing during the pandemic? What has happened to your organization? Just share some details about how your organization has changed. Maybe some things that you have modified, maybe you were doing that fundraiser, and you had to change it or you did those camps or, these outreach activities and instead of doing them face to face, you moved them virtually.
Number two, how has your work actually made a difference? In normal times, we would have just said, “Well, here’s how we make a difference.” But in 2020, you have to be very specific about how your mission is still very relevant. Your mission and the way you executed your mission, very well may have changed.
Finally, the third thing is that I want you to share what benefits your donors may have in 2020. For those of you who have followed the Cares Act, you know that there are benefits for your donors that allow them to deduct more from their taxes with their donation to your cause. They actually will make money back meaning that they will be able to give more money to your organization without it costing them. The new incentive for the Cares Act is actually two separate incentives, one for individuals and one for corporations. For individuals, they can elect to deduct their donations, up to 100% of their 2020 Adjusted Gross Income. For corporations, they also have the ability to increase those deductions, from 10% to 25%, of their taxable income in 2020. That’s a huge difference and a huge incentive for your donors to give in 2020.
I hope this is helpful for you as you start to just make plans for this year-end appeal. As you’re continuing to move forward, just remember that it’s important that we do communicate and that you clearly articulate what it is that your cause is doing and how your donors can make a difference to the work. It’s not about you being so awesome and you doing such great things. It’s about the fact that you guys all get to do this together. And the fact that you get to do it in the first place is pretty fantastic.
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