8 Steps To A Quality Donor Appeal

Modern technology and communication trends make it easier to share information. That might make it easier for your organization to reach out to a wide number of potential supporters, but it also makes it just as easy for other charities to chime in. As donors are met with compelling requests for support from every which way, what is your organization doing to ensure that its message is not just white noise?

    During her presentation, “How to Raise More Money with Your Annual Fundraising Appeal” at an Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference, Claire Axelrad, founder and principal at Clarification, laid out eight steps to drafting a compelling appeal to donors. They were:

  • State a compelling problem. Begin with a one-sentence takeaway that will arouse interest and simplify the problem. Identify early on what the problem is, help the donor visualize that problem, and state that the donor can help solve it;
  • Make sure that that problem is concrete. Don’t make the need about something intangible such as hope. Keep it to tangibles: the donor needs food, shelter, clothing, etc. Force a donor decision. Will they help or not;
  • Provide a simple solution to that problem. Donors care more about the result than the process. Don’t wind down the road of how the donor’s support will help. Simply state that the donor’s help will address this specific problem;
  • Articulate a clear, attainable goal with related costs. Don’t force donors to guess how much it might cost to provide a particular benefit. A school, for instance, can tier asks for the cost of tuition for a year, cost for housing, cost for food, etc.;
  • Tug on the heartstrings with emotional prompts. Emotion is more satisfying than logic. Connect the dots. The donor will receive the satisfaction of solving the aforementioned problem by supporting the cause;
  • Find ways to relate to the donor. Focus on one good story. Value a strong narrative as opposed to the vast number of individuals in need;
  • Keep everything within a reasonable scope. Be mindful of scope insensitivity. The larger the stated problem, the less driven donors might become; and,
  • Spotlight donor rewards. Feeling good, fulfilling moral or religious obligations, improving their community, and tax benefits are all potential perks donors might be drawn to in giving.