cut the crap: what’s the best way to do an appeal? 

Here in the nonprofit world, spring appeals are about to flood our inboxes, our mailboxes, and our wallet-boxes. Over the years, we have been privy to many strategies on how to get the most impact with your appeal, and it seems everyone has different theories on what strategy works the best. We cut the crap, rolled up our sleeves, and got real. What exactly is the best way to appeal?

1. Method

As your donor base ages, so will the method of receiving donations via direct mail. A study done in 2018 found that 18% of baby boomers, 9% of Gen Xers, and 6% of millenials are most inspired to give by direct mail. Meanwhile, social media giving is quickly rising in popularity. 39% of millennials, 33% of Gen Xers, and 19% of baby boomers are most inspired to give by social media. (Source) Consider running social media ad campaigns around your appeal and invest heavily in a Giving Tuesday campaign after Thanksgiving. 

All generations across the board prefer giving online as opposed to cash, transfers, or check in the mail. (Source)

2. Hero’s Journey – wait, who is the hero again?

We are all familiar with the idea that an appeal should be written like a story. Most of us have been taught to make the donor the hero. But what if this is backwards? Some nonprofits struggle with an “us vs. them” mentality that results in issues with donor retention. The true heroes of the story should be the people (or animals) who are overcoming their adversity with the help of their guide (the nonprofit and donor). Here, we have re-organized the typical hero’s journey for you.

3. Segment


Have slightly different appeals for different levels of donors. If you have one donor that is stuck giving $50/month, push them an appeal asking for $75/month. Lapsed donors? They need their own special appeal. The limits are endless, but we caution to only embark down this road if your CRM is organized enough to handle this list separation.

Mailchimp allows you to segment your emails based on sign-up date. When used, companies reported open rates 29.56% higher than non-segmented campaigns. Mailchimp also has a feature to allow new sign-ups to indicate what their interests are. If you’re a multi-faceted nonprofit, consider creating interest groups based on different areas of your nonprofit. Organizations that utilize this reported click-rates 74.53% higher than non-segmented campaigns. (Source)

4. Have Impactful Design

Photography
Never underestimate the power of a good photo. There is a reason photography outperforms graphics by miles on social media: people love to connect with other people. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Source)

Invest time into a quality photoshoot with the subject of your appeal. Get good lighting. Get good angles. Get candid shots. You know, everything those 22-year-old Instagram influencers manage to do so well. It will pay off with increased donations, trust us. 

Colors
Keep the colors consistent with your brand. That’s all we have to say about that. 

Type size and style
Keep it simple and easy. Stay away from handwritten fonts, no matter how tempting it seems to make it look like it was written by an actual person. We all know it wasn’t written by an actual person.

Okay, now you are ready to spring into your spring appeals. Sorry everyone, that was our last joke. May your appeals be appealing!

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