Top 10 tips for your annual appeal

By Kacy Noltemeyer
Vice President, Fundraising Solutions, and Senior Consultant

Photo of Kacy Noltemeyer
Kacy Noltemeyer

After quite a few years of direct mail carrying a reputation as “old school” in the fundraising realm, there are signs the trend may be coming back as a valuable tool.

A few interesting tidbits from the recent post “Direct Mail Statistics That Will Have You Running to the Post Office” include:

  • 42.2% of direct mail recipients either read or scan the mail they get.
  • 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.
  • A recent Statista survey reported over 60 percent of Gen Z get excited to receive direct mail. 

Definitely some food for thought, right?

As you plan your year-end or annual appeal, consider my top 10 tips for a successful direct mail piece:

  1. Write to a middle school-level audience. Keep your message concise and easy to read, and avoid using lingo or big words. No complicated sentences!
  2. “Ask” at least twice, sometimes three, if it flows well.
  3. Use bullets and bold lettering to catch the reader’s eye.
  4. Keep your appeal under a page if possible, and limit it to three paragraphs in addition to bullets.
  5. Use inclusive language like “we, together, us, with your help…”
  6. Include gratitude language at least once. Don’t be afraid to flatter the donor!
  7. Personalize as much as possible. If you have the data, use their name in the salutation, mention their last gift amount, and a request a specific gift amount that increases from their last donation.
  8. Always include a P.S. with a call to action.
  9. Break down the ask to tangible amounts. You don’t need to tell them why you need to raise a million dollars; rather, tell them what their gift of $50 will do.
  10. Make donating as easy as possible! Include an envelope and always have your website donation page listed.

Do you have other pro tips for direct mail? I’d love to hear your ideas! Reach out anytime.