3 Keys for an Effective Year End Letter

A year-end appeal involves leadership, segmenting, and is far from a passive “wait and see,” or a substitute for individual interaction. The year-end appeal provides a pathway for partnership and involvement as part of an overall strategy throughout the year.

It can be the perfect way to recap how your partnership has made a difference and to cast vision for a new need and solution - that you would like your financial partners to be aware of and involved in - as part of the solution. A year-end appeal viewed in this manner is a way to deepen the financial partnership.

Here are three keys to write an effective year end appeal letter.

1- Communicate A Transformational Story

Set the tone of gratitude by beginning your letter with a thank-you first. Showing gratitude for specific accomplishments in ministry makes your gratitude meaningful and connected to the impact. Help your financial partner understand their value and how their financial partnership allowed your team make a difference together.

The best way to show how you made a difference is to share a transformational story. Those you're meeting with should feel the tug at their heartstrings, and the urgent nature of your request. Lori Jacobwith shares 7 tips for telling a good story in your letter.

  1. Stories should be about real people who need something.

  2. Allow the person in your story to have a real name, age, and to speak for themselves.

  3. Minds wander. In about 4-10 seconds your listeners tune out if you haven’t grabbed them. Don’t tell me you are going to tell me a story about someone, just tell it.

  4. Keep your story short.

  5. Allow your story to cause me to feel something. Anger, sadness, happiness, pride - it doesn’t matter what the emotion is, just something.

  6. Your story should have a moment when people see themselves or someone in their own lives. This could be their aging parents, the daughter of the person who made their latte today, or their own child.

  7. The best stories are told by the person themselves. People telling their own stories are the most moving way to share how your organization makes a difference.[1]

A great story versus a good story can easily keep your donors and partners connected to the impact. Remind your financial partners that this incredible story wouldn’t have happened without their generosity.

2- Segment Your List

Figure out who you’re writing to and break down your appeal letters to cater to specific donors. This isn’t hard. If you’re ready to tackle it, you can read our blog on some practical steps and categories for segmenting here. 

3- Make a Clear Call to Action

Your call to action should be simple and direct. Decide the most important thing you want funded with the year-end appeal, and focus on that. The more simple and direct the invitation to partner, the more effective the results.

Make your call to action, what you are asking them to do at the end of the letter, simple, straightforward, specific, and impact focused.

Your call to action should be impactful. Show the difference their gift will make, and people will give you more. Use stories and pictures to tell about the need and how their gift will impact that mission and ministry. Use urgency to allow your financial partner to realize the impact that can take place when they actively partner today.

Your call to action should not be about you. Instead, talk about how this ministry cannot be accomplished without their personal investment, and how those financial resources open doors for new or deeper impact. Make giving about funding missions and ministry!


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.

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