How to Write Better End-Of-Year Donor Communications
Katrina – 22 September 2023
End-of-year giving is an important opportunity for nonprofits to engage donors and achieve their annual fundraising targets. While end-of-year fundraising success begins with good planning and strategic campaign targeting using AI donor predictions, effective communications play a pivotal role in maximizing donations during this critical period.
In this blog we share our top tips for writing effective end-of-year fundraising communications and showcase how our latest GPT writing assistant (AI Assist) can help you write new fundraising content from scratch or enhance your existing communications to improve donor engagement.
And in case you missed it, check out our previous blog sharing our top tips for planning your best end-of-year fundraising campaign yet.
1. Build a Compelling Case For Support
Although donors tend to be more generous towards the end of the year, it’s essential not to take their support for granted and assume they will give to your end-of-year campaign. Donors still need a compelling reason to give again.
Use this framework to help build effective campaign messaging and a compelling case for giving in your fundraising letter:
- Define the problem – provide context
Clearly articulate the problem to address and make sure it feels tangible and relatable to the donors’ perspective. What is the problem their gift will help tackle?
- Offer a solution – why give?
It’s important to effectively communicate the solution that is made possible with the donors’ generous support. Make sure the donor understands exactly how their gift will fund the solution.
- Explain the consequences of inaction – why give now?
By stating the consequences of not giving, you can effectively highlight why giving now to your end-of-year campaign is critical. This helps instil urgency and explain why the donor should support with a gift now.
- Make the ask
Explicitly state how the donor can contribute, specifying the purpose and amount of the requested gift and how that will be put to use to tackle the problem. The ask should highlight the donor’s role in making a difference.
Creating engaging and persuasive end-of-year communications becomes a relatively straightforward process when you use this formula.
2. Use Fundraising-Specific Language and Tactics
Fundraising is about building connections with donors and inspiring them to take action in support of your cause. So effective fundraising communications must prioritize a donor-centric approach and use fundraising-specific language, not marketing language.
A donor-centric approach puts the donor at the centre of your messaging strategy and shifts the focus of communications away from the organizations’ needs and achievements towards the donor’s potential impact. Good fundraising communications should clearly articulate how the donors’ involvement makes a difference and tap into the donors’ emotions and values. Using fundraising language and tactics in your end-of-year communications will help ensure donors know that their support is necessary and can lead to positive change.
Here’s some effective fundraising language and tactics to use when asking your donors to give to your end-of-year campaign:
- Use “you” language to emphasize the donors’ role in making change possible (with your help, because of you etc)
- Focus on your donors and the impact their donations will have at this time of year (your gift will help us end the year strong / start the year well)
- Be clear and direct when communicating your fundraising target and the significance of achieving it
- Explain how a gift now is a chance to provide a final act of kindness before the year ends
- Write for the supporter who skims your communications (make the ask early, repeat it often and use clever formatting to highlight key points)
- Talk about tax deductibility and the urgency of the 31 December deadline for US nonprofits
- For donors who gave recently or last year, remind them of how their donations were used
Remember, the key is to shift the focus of your communications from the organization’s achievements to conveying how the donor’s support matters.
3. Cure Writers’ Block with Generative AI
Often the hardest part of writing your fundraising letters and emails is getting started. So if you find yourself stuck staring at a blank screen, we recommend using a generative AI writing tool like ChatGPT or Dataro’s AI Assist to kick-start the creative process and help you generate your first-draft for further iteration.
Unlike ChatGPT though, Dataro’s AI Assist has been built specifically for nonprofit fundraising use, so the output generated is fundraising-specific and doesn’t require intensive prompting to get a good result back. Using AI Assist fundraisers can very easily and quickly produce high-quality fundraising communications that use best-practice tactics and fundraising language. The process begins by entering the campaign brief and organization details into the writing tool. As with any generative AI content, you’ll still need to review, edit and fine-tune the content to ensure it is compelling, accurate, authentic and specific to your brand guidelines. Check out some of the testimonials for AI Assist from fundraisers who are saving time and effort writing their fundraising content.
4. Include Storytelling for Greater Impact
Storytelling is a key ingredient in effective year-end fundraising communications because it taps into a donor’s emotions to help connect them with the mission of your organization. Storytelling goes beyond impersonal facts and figures to help donors grasp the significance of your organization’s work and understand the pivotal role they play in advancing your mission.
Your end-of-year donation letter and emails should highlight stories of beneficiaries who have been positively impacted by your organization and depict the transformation your work brings about. Including compelling photography and videos (using QR codes or links) helps bring stories to life and share the impactful work of your organization. Adding a video of impact to your thank you donation page can be a fantastic way to surprise and delight donors after making their gift.
5. Use Copy Editing Tools to Enhance Your Communications
It is important to evaluate the strength of your end-of-year fundraising campaign copy to help optimize your appeal and improve campaign results. That’s where generative AI tools like Dataro’s AI Assist can act as a pseudo fundraising copy editor to improve your editing process and enhance the effectiveness of your communications. Using the Enhance feature of AI Assist, fundraisers can input their draft appeal letter or email copy and click “generate” to get suggested edits. While you may be able to get similar suggestions from ChatGPT, it will require more time and iterations to get effective feedback that uses fundraising language and tactics.
Create a Dataro demo account here to try AI Assist for free for 7 days (and you don’t need to enter a credit card to set up your free account).
A Quick Note on Saying Thanks Before You Ask
Thanking donors effectively is a vital component of good donor stewardship and a well-crafted thank you message can have a profound impact on donor retention, engagement and the success of your end-of-year fundraising efforts. We’ve seen how effective a pre-appeal thank you communication or impact reporting campaign can be to make donors feel valued and remind them of the difference that their continued support makes to the beneficiaries aided by your organization.
A good thank you communication should be personalized and address the donor by name, express gratitude in the opening sentence, acknowledge the previous gift amount and mention the specific impact of the donors’ contribution and how it is already making a difference. Don’t forget to plan your end-of-year campaign thanking before you launch your appeal so this year’s thanking isn’t an afterthought.