Should We Change Things Up in Our End-of-Year Appeal?

Dear Kim:

I work for a small rural medical, dental and behavioral health facility serving around 5,000 local residents and beyond. We do two mailings a year. Our best results have been when we do a fall newsletter and a winter appeal letter.

We did a four color newsletter for the first time this past fall. It got very good feedback on the content and format, but not many donations, however it wasn’t an ask.

My question is, which format would be best for the winter appeal? Should it be the traditional envelope with a letter and reply envelope? We’ve used that format for almost 20 years. I thought of doing a color piece again folded as a self-mailer with the ask letter inside embedded with a few photos and patient stories. I know it must say clearly outside and inside that we want a gift, and have compelling “why.” But beyond that, what works best?

~Getting the Givers to GIVE

Dear Getting:

You answered your own question: do what has worked well for 20 years, particularly this year when you are following up on a very successful newsletter. To make your letter a little more modern, tell people they can look at photos and stories on-line (and put them on your website first!). Make sure anything that appears on your website invites people to give on-line also.

When sending anything that asks for money, you want to err on the side of simple and not expensive looking. A once a year splurge for a nice looking four color newsletter is fine, and donors feel appreciated with something like that, but they will soon turn against anything that appears expensive, particularly in this economy.

Hope your appeal does very well!