What Can Make or Break your Year-End Fundraising Appeal?

I see lots of organizations missing the boat when they create that all-important year-end fundraising appeal.

Don’t forget the emotional hook!

It’s something big that many organizations miss altogether.

What’s is it? The emotional hook is a theme that provokes an emotional reaction from your donors.

That’s it:  Something that will get attention. And make them want to listen. And play on their emotions.

So what’s the hook in YOUR appeal letter?

  • Maybe it’s an image.
  • Maybe it’s a theme.
  • Maybe it’s a tagline.

Maybe it’s a story. You’ve gotta have something!

It has to be consistent

Completely consistent across all your fundraising channels – website, donation page, email appeals, newsletter, direct mail appeal, speeches, presentations, everything you do or say this fall.

It has to be eye-catching

The image or icon – by itself – needs to be provocative and compelling.

  • Maybe it’s an empty lunchbox.
  • Or a full lunchbox.
  • Maybe it’s a bald child smiling broadly.
  • Maybe it’s a hug.
  • Maybe it’s an empty chair.
  • Maybe it’s a pair of tennis shoes.

It has to be connected to a real gut-wrenching story

Perhaps it goes like this:

Johnny Smith woke up Monday morning, hungry again.

Wow, doesn’t that get your attention?

Create a visual narrative that draws the reader in

You want to keep reading don’t you?  Starting with a story is an amazing technique.

You could go on to say that Johnny lives right here in our community, and his single mother could not find work. You could talk about how many nights a week he goes to bed hungry. Or perhaps how he stuffs his empty backpack with cafeteria food at school because he knows there is no food at home.

As you read this, you are forming pictures in your mind, aren’t you? It is generating an emotional feeling in your soft heart (I hope.)

THIS is the way to appeal to your donors’ hearts. And you’d be surprised at the result.

Definitely use your emotional hook to open your donor’s heart

She wants to be touched. She wants to be part of something important. Make it happen!

What do you think?

John Haydon