Funding Change Consulting Blog Advice

Seven Questions to Ask Before You Start Your Year-End Appeal: Direct Mail Bootcamp (part 3 of 4)

Why should donors give now?

You know you need to write your year-end appeal letter but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some questions to get you thinking…

  1. What’s the problem and why does it matter? If you don’t work on addressing this, what’s going to happen?
  2. What’s the threat/opposition? Is there an enemy? Describe them: who are they and what do they stand for?
  3. How will my donation help? What will you do with my money? What won’t you be able to do if I don’t give?
  4. What’s your offer? The best offers are specific, urgent, and have a clear impact with a dollar amount attached to them. I’m talking about something like this… Did you know it only takes $12.50 to train someone to prevent sexual assault? That’s right…with your donation of $12.50 today, you can help someone learn how to intervene and stop a rape before it happens.
  5. What are the benefits of my giving? How will my donation make a difference? What will I get in return? (And I don’t mean address labels or a tote bag… I mean, intangible feelings like hope, joy, relief, etc.)
  6. Why should I give now? What’s the urgent need? What’s your deadline?
  7. Fill in the blank: When you give to ____________________, you’ll be helping/supporting _______________________________.

The answers to these seven questions should be clear to your reader after they see your appeal.

And remember, most people jump around and skim what you send…they don’t read the whole thing from beginning to end. So be sure to address these questions more than once throughout your appeal.

Pro tip: Give these questions along with your draft letter to someone outside your organization and see if they give you the answers you’re hoping for. If not, consider what revisions are needed to improve your appeal.

Good luck!


Tina Cincotti, owner of Funding Change, is a donor communications expert and general nonprofit nerd.
September 18, 2018

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