October 14, 2021
Categories: Budgets and Financial Development

This guest post is written by Caitlin Daly, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Lollypop Farm. In a recent interview, she stressed the importance of end-of-year mailer (appeals). We asked her if it was too late to send one, and while it’s cutting it close, it can be done! Below are her tips.  [Note: This originally ran November 2019, which means you have even more time to accomplish this!]

End of year appeals are an important way to spread your good work and ask for support. It’s ideal to send these direct mailers in late October/early November, BUT it’s (almost) never too late! The recipe is simple and fun: 

  1. Start with the most important message: a heartfelt thank you to the people who have helped you succeed all year. “With YOUR help, we rescued/spayed/etc # of animals in [year]… THANK YOU for supporting our mission… we couldn’t do it without you… etc etc” It’s especially impactful to show side by side comparisons from the previous year, especially if those numbers = higher save rates.
  2. Second, share a meaningful story to illustrate the good work that you do every day. Make sure to incorporate photos that inspire hope whenever possible. I always love a good before and after – the before photos pull on heartstrings and the after photos show the impactful work done by your organization.  “Take [animal’s name] for example. She spent her whole life in a cage… insert photo … and BECAUSE OF YOU, she was adopted and here she is on a hike through Yellowstone Park with her new family!”
  3. Third, share any important upcoming dates. Events, initiatives, etc.
  4. A final THANK YOU with meaningful donation amounts. 
    1. $5 provides food and a comfortable bed for one animal for one day
    2. $10 vaccinates one animal, preventing future disease or distress
    3. $50 provides spay or neuter surgery for one animal
    4. $250 treats one dog for heartworm disease

If you craft your letter from the heart with real lifesaving numbers and photos, your supporters will feel included and emotionally invested.

Once your letter is written, reach out to local printing companies for pro bono services. You can offer them a special shout out on the footer of your appeal: “This letter was made possible by the compassion and generosity of [insert business name].”

Okay, is the letter all done and ready to be stuffed into envelopes? This is the FUN part! Get a tray of cookies and some spiced apple cider. Invite all staff and/or volunteers to come to the “sign and stuff party.” It is so much more meaningful if there is a personal note written at the bottom of each letter and this is a wonderful opportunity to involve your entire team in the thanking process. Philanthropy should be part of your workplace culture, and this is a nice place to start!

Once the letters have been out for about 10 days, pick up the phone and call your $100+ or $250+ donors. You can enlist board member help, volunteer help, any help! Let them know personally how important they are.

At the same time these calls are happening, you should send an email and social media blitz sharing the story from your appeal. Add donate buttons to each and watch the money roll in!

Feel free to email Caitlin if you have specific questions or hurdles.