4 Steps to Planning for Your Year End Appeal Letter

A year-end appeal is a letter you send to all your current financial partners, encouraging them to take advantage of additional giving at the end of the calendar year. These are your monthly, annual, and even one-time financial partners for this year.

Your 4 easy steps to get this accomplished:

1. Create a timeline and work backwards

The first thing you need to do is to plan ahead. When should your letters land in a family’s mailbox or inbox? The first week of November is ideal, but any time before Thanksgiving will do. December is late!

The entire process could take up to 4 weeks to complete. Yes, 4 weeks!

This is why you really should plan ahead. Realistically, you will need about a week to write the letter and proof it, and another week to get the pictures you need. Having the letter printed also takes time. You could spend yet one more week writing personal notes and hand addressing envelopes.  

2. Determine the focus of the letter

Your letter should maintain a clear, focused message. What part of your work and its impact do you want to communicate? Don’t use your year-end appeal to catch everyone up on your lack of communication throughout the year or to defend or justify your work.

Highlight the positive impact that’s been made this year, being as specific as possible, so your work and the resulting impact is incredibly clear. Even your daily life can be a highlight of your letter.

3. Segment your current financial partners

You should segment (separate) your financial partners into specific categories. When it comes to ensuring fundraising success, even the best letter in the world won’t raise money if you don’t have the recipients segmented properly. Spend 80 percent of your time on building your lists (snail mail and e-mail), and 20 percent on writing copy and designing your package. 

You can read more about segmenting here, it has every step you need to do it right. Don't miss it!

4. Determine how people can give

Send an envelope with a card or a Donate Now link to online giving, or consider creating a QR Code that can be scanned with a mobile device. If you use an envelope or you use online giving, this is another place to tell your story and restate your mission and impact. Ask for specific amounts, such as $100, $1,000, $5,000, etc., as well as frequency (Monthly/Annual/Special Gift).

It's important that your appeal matches the way people normally give and their capacity for generosity. Don’t forget to have a place to collect information for your database on this reply envelope, including address, phone number, and email address. 

Now, go and write your letter.


Russell Cooper, Co-Founder

As co-founder of Tailored, I am dedicated to developing generosity in the Body of Christ. This is why I'm passionate about creating strategic partnerships with disciple-making organizations, as well as coaching leaders. When I have free time, I'm watching America’s Test Kitchen and trying out new recipes on my wife, my most dependable food critic. I also have fun taking care of our backyard chickens, Vicky and Flo.

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