Year-End Appeals: My Client Got It Right

I received a year-end fundraising letter on October 30 from one of my clients, Playworks Pacific Northwest. While simple and produced on a budget, it stood out for following evidence-based practices for soliciting end-of-year gifts by mail.

Effective year-end mailings don’t have to be complicated or expensive. But they do need to be thoughtful and well-coordinated. Here are the simple but important things that Playworks got right.

  • Received before the holiday rush. They got on my year-end gift list early – October 30.
  • Name/address printed on the envelope (no mailing labels). Helps me feel less like one of thousands.
  • Bulk mail stamp (no pre-printed indicia). Looks less institutional and more personal.
  • Off-size envelope. 6″ x 9″ size helps it stand out from my other mail.
  • Use of color. Even one extra color makes it pop and harder to ignore.
  • Use of photos. Faces of students on every piece pulls me in and makes me smile.
  • Personalized greeting. “Dear Thomas” and not “Dear Friend” helps me feel more valued.
  • Compelling first sentence. “We live in extraordinary times.” Yes, we certainly do.
  • Hand-written note. “Our kids thank you! Coach Derek.” written across the top.
  • Hand-signed letter and note. “Geoff” followed by “Thanks!” written by the Executive Director.
  • Consistent design (envelope, letter, return envelope). Each piece reinforces the others.
  • Added their consultant (me) to the list. Smart of them to leave no new prospect behind.
  • Suggested a specific amount. $35 is hard to say no to, and gets me in the door as a new donor. 

Let’s discuss ways you can make your fundraising appeals even more effective.