Here's To a Successful 2020 Year End Appeal

by laura-lee mckeown and crystal wilson


So there's a global pandemic, high unemployment rates, economic crises in many major world centers, and an overall hum of panic in the general population. And as a fundraiser your job, at least the public's perception of it, is to ask people for money.   

Some might say it's a challenging time to fundraise.  They would not be wrong. But a challenge is just a thing to overcome, and you can do it!  We know Year-End Appeal time is just around the corner (if we're honest, it is here already!), and it may feel a bit more daunting than it has in years past. We, as always, have got your back, and have three big tips for creating your 2020 Year-End Appeal: 



Image courtesy of Diana Akhmetianova

This is not the time to quiet down

You might think that people don't want to hear from you right now or that they may reject your communications thinking you're asking for something they can't give. The reality is, people are aching for connection right now.  To feel familiarity and belonging, and a sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves.   This is what we believe is the basis for a strong communications plan at any time, but even more so now.  Show up for your donors, your community. Deliver them value.  Help them see the difference they have made and continue to make - do this by sharing stories of success, of uplifting circumstances, and other pictures of realized possibility.  Meeting these needs will help ensure that the relationship between donor and organization stays strong and that your donors will show up when you need them.  


Consider and communicate the logistics

As you think about your communication plans, and your year-end appeal, there are some housekeeping details to keep in mind.  For example, do you have up to date contact information for your donors?  Are you relying solely on mail for some communications or income?  The postal system can no longer be guaranteed to deliver mail on the expected schedule - this means communications sent by mail need to have a long lead time, and cheques being sent to you in the mail do too.  Your donor who writes and sends a cheque on December 15th which isn't received and processed until January 15th won't be happy to know that they will have to wait until their 2021 taxes to use that deduction.  Encourage electronic giving methods where possible and provide clear instructions.  "Use PayPal" may be a deal-breaker for certain donors, while "I can walk you through how to use a new online donation system" may ease the transition. 


Adopt an abundance mindset

It's true that many people have been dealt a hard hand in 2020.  It is also true that many people have thrived.  A mindset dialed in to scarcity will not see you to success in meeting your fundraising goals.  Scarcity says " Our donors aren't going to be able to contribute this year - they're barely getting by themselves!'  While abundance says "There is plenty to go around and many people have done amazing things for themselves and their communities this year!" Don't buy into scarcity.  The toughest times tend to be when people are more willing to discover the abundance they actually have and sacrifice for causes they believe in.  Those who have an incredible abundance tend to step up more when they know that times are tough.  You're good people, and you've helped attract good and generous people to your organization - believe that for them!


All in all, like any other year, a successful 2020 campaign will rely on the relationships forged between your organization and your donors.  Nurture and serve your donors and you will see positive results.