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7 Tips To Maximize Your Annual Appeal.

Annual appeals have so much potential, and now is the time to design them! So today, we want to share some inspiration and tips on developing your best annual appeal yet.

First, here’s a little look at a recent success story...

How we increased annual appeal donations by 333%!

In 2019, we designed the annual appeal for Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary. By creating a brand around their membership, and sharing a compelling, personal story of a supporter, donations more than tripled from the previous year! It was by far, the most successful annual appeal Eastern State ever had, and we were thrilled to be part of it. The money helped to preserve a personal legacy and fund a new visitor center, truly building the future.

How does this project relate to your organization? We believe that the approach we employed for Eastern State will help you too!

Whether your nonprofit, university, or museum does an annual appeal every year, or you’re considering starting one this year, here are seven tips to help you maximize your annual appeal for 2020:

1. Send a printed appeal. Print has so many benefits in any year, but this year in particular, even more people are at home, eagerly awaiting the mail carrier. And this year especially, people are craving enrichment (which print can provide). Don’t have a big budget? Your printed component doesn’t have to be giant or elaborate to work. But we believe that showing up in someone’s mailbox and having a moment with them is some of the best marketing there is.

2. Send it the day after the election. If you send your annual appeal before the election, it will get lost in the shuffle (visually or even physically), amidst political postcards and campaign mailers. Drop it in the mail on November 4th; your appeal will arrive before the holiday rush overwhelms.

3. Follow up with two or three emails. We clearly love the power of print, but we think it works even better in conjunction with digital efforts! Send weekly follow-up emails and you’ll get the highest return. The response rate for direct mail is 5% (vs. the email-only rate of 1%). When you combine the two efforts, you can expect around a 6% response.

4. Personalize it. On-demand printing will help your appeal connect. What level of personalization you do is up to you, but the possibilities are vast depending on how much information you have about your prospective donors. Either way, make it feel personal if you can.

5. Save money on postage. Nonprofits can benefit from lower postage rates by qualifying through the post office for a nonprofit indicia. Here’s more info on special prices for nonprofit mailers.

6. Focus on the people, and the stories. When you can move people emotionally, they are more compelled to donate. People love human stories. So, ask yourself, what is the most connective way we can do this? Show how your organization helps or impacts humans. There are always human stories, even when your nonprofit is preserving a historic building.

7. Don’t forget a spring appeal. Spring appeals usually aren’t as big, but can help secure donations from people who thought about it, but didn’t quite get around to it, in the winter. For Eastern State, we helped break another record with their spring appeal—nearly doubling the previous year’s donations!

Want to make your 2020 annual appeal the best yet? Let’s talk about how we can help.


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