Ruthellen Rubin
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The Nonprofit Blog

Is Your Annual Appeal Letter in the Mail?

It's a good thing if your organization's Annual Appeal letter is already in the mail.  It will arrive along with the shopping advertisements this week and will offer a call to action on Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3rd.  (If your letter has not been mailed yet, you still have time to get in on the giving season.  Check out my Nov. 14th blog for tips.) However, mailing the annual appeal letter is not enough; it is just the first step.  Even your most loyal donors may misplace the letter, drop it on the way into the house, lose it amongst the Black Friday shopping ads or use it to wipe the doggy poop off their shoes.  

Now is the time to spring into action and offer your donors more opportunities to make the gift:  post your appeal on your social networks - not once but several times leading up to the year's end.  Make a big hoo-hah about Giving Tuesday and remind your donors of the partnership they have with your organization.   Thanksgiving is a great time to mention to your loyal supporters how thankful you are for their generosity.  As the holiday spirit builds throughout the month of December, so does the feeling of wanting to help others.  When that feeling strikes your donors, be sure they are thinking of you.

It goes without saying that your organization's donation page should be in tip top shape right now.  Test it out.  Make sure it works easily on all mobile devices and perform any last minute tweaks to make it as compelling and clean as possible. All your social network chatter must include a clear call to action to make a donation and link directly to your donation page.

Now is the time to be agressive.  Tis the season to raise money to support the good work of your nonprofit organization.

If you're in New York on December 12th, join me and other professional fundraisers to share Annual Appeal best practices at a half-day workshop at the Support Center/Partnership in Philanthropy.  Hope to see you then.

 

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The Story in the Annual Appeal

I know... the fastest growing segment of fundraising is online.  HOWEVER, without a doubt, the major gifts will continue to come to our nonprofit organizations in the mail, in the form of a check.  Further, most of them will come in the next six weeks as a result of our annual appeal letters.

If you are producing that letter in-house and if it is not yet finalized, I urge you to keep reading.  

By now, you have learned the basics: make it personal (spell the name of the donor prospect correctly) , make it short (a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself:  "Would I read this?"), be specific about what you are asking the reader to do (send a check for $1,000) and tell a story.

The story... is the clincher.  You don't have to make it up or call your copywriter.  This is the time to bring your program team together with your development staff to talk about some of the real people whose lives are improved or changed because of the programs and services you deliver.  It is a luxury for nonprofit staff to take the time to reflect and recall the things your organization does, on a very personal level. I guarantee that one story will emerge that you will want to share with every person who receives your appeal letter.  That's all it takes - the story of one life that was made better by your work.

The number of fatalities from Typhoon Haiyan changes daily.  Two days ago it was 10,000, this morning I read 2,500. Likely that number won't be finalized for many weeks, if ever.  In any event, we won't remember it.  What we will remember is the face of the child who can't find her family and is starving for a piece of bread. And hopefully in the next couple of days, the face of a child who is drinking a glass of milk as a result of the actions of a charitable relief organization.

I often ask my students if they know the number of children murdered in the Holocaust. No one recalls that it was 2 million. We cannot process that reality.  Then I ask my students who knows the story of Anne Frank?  Every hand goes up.  

The work of our nonprofit organizations is so powerful that it is hard to wrap our heads around the ful impact.  In your annual appeal letter this year, tell the one story that will be remembered and retold.  

Yes... of course... retell the story in your E-Appeal and link to it through all your social networks.  You knew that.

 

Join me on December 12th for a half-day workshop in NYC to share Annual Appeal best practices with other fundraising professionals. 

Click for more storytelling tips from the pros at Causevox.

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The Inside Buzz on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is certainly trending on social networks. The word is out to individuals to incorporate a bit of altruism during one of the biggest spending weeks of the year.  I fully expect Giving Tuesday to catch on and continue to grow  as an opportunity for donors to get in the holiday spirit of giving.

That said, I have heard lots of trepidation in conversations with fundraising professionals as to whether another "ask" will impinge on end-of-year giving.  I, for one, think not.  In fact, I am a firm believer that the more you give, the more you give. Also -- the more you ask, the more they give. 

Some thoughts:

  • Many of our donors just forget to make their gift -- another reminder on Dec 3rd, on a national scale, is a good thing.
  • A personal thank you for an extra Giving Tuesday donation is the perfect opportunity to invite a donor to visit.
  • Create a group of your Giving Tuesday donors and consider special ways to steward them throughout the year.
  • This giving season, concentrate on getting up close and personal with those who have already invested (time and/or money) in your mission/services/program. They are the best partners and prospects to advance your mission.
  • Check out my recent blog for ways to be proactive on Giving Tuesday.  

 

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Is Your Annual Appeal Letter in the Mail?

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The Story in the Annual Appeal

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The Inside Buzz on #GivingTuesday

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