In the last two weeks, 2020 Giving USA results shared that Americans gave nearly $450 billion last year, and The Big Give raised more than $32 million in 32 hours for nonprofits in Central Ohio.
Both sets of charitable data are strong testaments of generosity and are indicative of the deep and abiding connection that donors have to the nonprofit missions they believe in and support.
While some donors send unsolicited gifts to nonprofits, the vast majority respond to an appeal whether the ask was made through a letter, phone call, email, or an in-person conversation. How nonprofits craft their appeal, acknowledgement, and stewardship letters has a direct impact on how much they raise.
The economic upheaval created by the pandemic has changed most aspects of our daily lives. The full impact on charitable giving is not yet known, but we can assume that the high unemployment rates and business losses will have a negative impact on giving. Despite the economic uncertainty, we encourage nonprofit leaders to continue making asks.
A recent blog in The Chronicle of Philanthropy shares insights into what makes a strong appeal. The author’s four tips for letters include:
- Don’t worry about donor fatigue.
- Make your needs known.
- Stay visible.
- Expect a challenge.
Similarly, the Mollard Consulting team recently hosted a webinar on letter writing during the pandemic. Below are two simplified versions of appeals for comparison purposes.
Don’t do this:
- a) Coronavirus, COVID-19, Pandemic
- b) We lost funding, have budget gaps.
- c) Write us a check because these are unprecedented times.
Dear Stella and Chip,
You are woven throughout the Paw’s Welfare League’s story. You have been a vital part of our growth as an organization and we are grateful.
We humbly come to you for your continued support because the animals in our community need your help.
If the timing is right for you, please consider a gift for the Fur Food program. This effort is central to our mission to provide a safe haven for animals in need.
A case for support should never be about a need for money. Never ever. Not even during a pandemic.
A case for support should always be about impact.
Your organization can talk about the financial needs of your programs, but it should be done in the context of serving your constituents and fulfilling your mission, not because June 30 is around the corner and you have a budget gap to fill. Who doesn’t have a budget gap in 2020?
We created a grading rubric to help organizations assess their letters. We encourage you to have staff on your fundraising team and in other parts of the organization score your letters, and to even ask a friend outside the organization to read, review, and score.
Send me a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the rubric. We offer this to the nonprofit community because your mission matters, and your donors will respond more favorably if your communications are strategic and compelling.
Let us know how your appeals are resonating with donors. We’d love to hear your stories about their generosity.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO