Best Practices for a Successful Annual Appeal for Your Alumni Association

The holiday season is here, and with it comes the biggest fundraising time of year for many nonprofit organizations, who rely on people’s generosity around the holidays to meet their yearly financial goals. 

Part of this fundraising is crafting an annual appeal, in which you directly ask donors to contribute to your organization. The general principles of developing an annual appeal are essentially the same for alumni associations as for other types of nonprofit organizations. The proper execution of your campaign can make all the difference between falling short and achieving outstanding results.

Here are a few best practices in developing an annual appeal for you to consider this holiday season.

  • Connect via multiple channels: Not all of your donors or audience can be found through a single communication channel. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, you should use a multi-channel approach that maximizes your chances of connecting with your audience. Use email, web, phone calls, direct mail, and/or social media.
  • Constantly test and adjust: Keep an eye on all of your key metrics like campaign revenue, open rate, conversion rate and more to determine how well you campaign is performing and if there are any opportunities for improvement. The most successful annual fundraising campaigns are ones that are tested and optimized thoroughly.
  • Make sharing easy: The more word-of-mouth advertising you’re able to generate, the better your campaign will do. As part of this, you should make it as easy as possible for people to share your content, and encourage them to do so. Put social sharing icons on all digital materials. Use content like images and video that are more likely to stand out in social feeds. And of course, ask people directly to share your content with their friends and other potential donors.
  • Make donating easy: Donating should be fast, easy and safe. It should take less than 60 seconds for a person who decides they want to donate to actually donate. Find online payment processing systems that work efficiently and use a variety of options if necessary. If sending out direct mail, include stamped and addressed return envelopes so all they need to do is write a check and put it back in the mailbox.
  • Create narratives: Tell stories with your fundraising, and this will create a much greater emotional attachment that will make people more likely to donate. People want to give to a cause, not always to an organization. Develop a sense of urgency, and show them exactly how their money can be put toward good uses.
  • Follow up: After people donate, make sure you follow up. This gives you an opportunity to personally thank them for their donation once again, but also to tell them how their support contributed to the success of your fundraising and your organizational efforts.

Best of luck to you and your alumni association in this fundraising season!

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