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Key Aspects of a Year-End Appeal that will Inspire Nonprofit Giving

For many nonprofits, the year-end appeal is the major push of the year that inspires a large chunk of financial support for the upcoming annual efforts. Your nonprofit has no shortage of opportunities to leverage those donations, so investing in your year-end Appeal is crucial to growth. 

In short, how much you put into your year-end Appeal promotion (and what you get out of it) will be a direct indicator of what you will be able to accomplish in the next 12 months. That can be a lot of stress, but it is also incredibly rewarding when you see the outpouring of support from the prospects you reach out to.  

Support is built from an inspiring cause, an emotional story, a powerful insider perspective, and a promise of true short-term and long-term impact for the better. Your year-end appeal should embody all of these messages, and do it in an engaging, concise, and clear message.  

So, how do you create a year-end appeal that promotes community and financial support? 

What is a year-end appeal? 

A year-end appeal is a specific donation request sent out during the year-end giving season as a way of reaching out to donors and soliciting contributions. It’s an increasingly common practice among nonprofits to build off of the momentum from Giving Tuesday and the generous spirit that accompanies the holiday season.  

This spike in generosity paired with hope for the changes of the upcoming year can result in higher-than-average donations. 

What does a year-end appeal look like? 

A year-end appeal usually includes a mix of print and digital promotion to engage all demographics of your key supporters. If you ask a Gen Zer to send in a check, they probably wouldn’t even have the check to send. And if you ask a baby boomer to set up a peer-to-peer Facebook fundraiser, it may not get off the ground. Each demographic has a generally preferred strategy of support, and to cover your bases as a nonprofit, you should speak to all of them. 


 Older generations are usually more likely to engage with a print and snail-mail campaign and send in checks. Millennials aren’t afraid to donate online. Younger Millennials and Generation Z may not be your heavy hitters as it comes to big, impressive donations, but they are incredibly proficient in sharing information on nonprofits and creating engaging content that their large social audiences will pay attention to.  

So, a full year-end appeal campaign consists of print, email outreach, social promotion, big donor personal outreach, partner creation… anything you have in your arsenal to reach as many people as possible with a powerful message of support and giving. 

Pacific Pride Foundation prioritizes a story and then connects it to the ask.

Key Aspects of a Year-End Appeal 

A Story 

Every good message has a great storyThe average person will rarely remember specific stats or data, let alone recall them as the key reason for giving. But a story? Those stick in our brains as we find personal connections, reflect on our own experiences, and justify supporting a cause. 

Nonprofits have myriad story options to choose from, from how the nonprofit started, to anecdotes from the perspective of a beneficent or volunteer, or anything that you know speaks to your prospects. The main commonality between any story is that it comes from the perspective of someone who fully believes in the organization. 

For example, a California-based LGBTQ+ resource center used a powerful story in their 2019 year-end appeal, that spoke about a supporter who had volatile relationships with their families because of their sexuality. The organization became the supporter’s chosen family, and they threw themselves into the community and found happiness. The beginning of this story is one that many LGBTQ+ people are familiar with, and the happy ending comes with the organization. This story added to the successful results of this year-end appeal. 

Powerful Imagery 

During this time of year, there is no shortage of appeals that your prospects will come across, so being noticed means setting your organization apart from the rest. One key strategy for setting yourself apart is your print and digital visual assets. 

These visual assets can span across the board of engaging ways to share data and the year’s accomplishments, images of your organization and volunteers in action, or even just professional branding to tie the message together.  

Finding the happy medium between being eye-catching and looking like a coupon magazine is the way to catch the attention of your prospective donors while also drawing them think about the message the appeal communicates. 

A Year in Review Breakdown 

A financial gift from a donor is a message that this person believes in your cause, and trusts you to do great things with that money. A great way to back up those thoughts is to reflect on what you were able to accomplish through the year.  

A year in review can be fast facts about your annual impact that your prospective donors can remember, understand, and appreciate. For example: 

  • In 2020, we were able to conduct 3,450 free HIV tests. 
  • We planted 34,759 trees in 2020. 

These quick, snackable stats are easy to interpret and comprehend the positive impact they provide. It’s important to gather this information throughout the year so your organization has honest numbers to leverage come December.  

It also gives a great leeway into a message of “We’ve accomplished so much, and these numbers can grow with your help.” 

A Quote 

This year-end appeal aspect is similar to the story, but less of a time, content, and space commitment. A great quote is the perfect way to break up long text, offer easy skimming for speed readers, and communicate the main point of the appeal.  

There are so many different avenues for obtaining a powerful quote. It can come from the CEO of the organization, a person of prominence or a part-time volunteer – anyone who believes in the cause can come up with a powerful one-liner to promote.  

A Gift-Matching Incentive 

To prospective donors, a gift-matching incentive almost feels like a donation discount. By working with your most prominent donors, you may be able to set up a gift-matching special that can inspire other donors to double their gift. 

This type of incentive gives more meaning to the appeal, instead of just asking for donations. It also adds a sense of urgency, as the gift-matching program has an end date! 

A Strong Call to Action 

Your call to action is the whole reason for the appeal. Having one, clear main CTA cuts out any confusion around what your prospective donors should do after reading your appeal. This can be proposing a specific problem where the reader has the power to contribute to the solution. 

While for most of us the main CTA will probably be to donate funds, that’s not the only option. Some will want to prioritize resource donations, air mile donations, or volunteer hours. Whatever the main CTA is, make sure it’s the one that your prospects notice. 

Create a tremendous impact on the success of your year-end campaign. Do you need help developing your year-end appeal strategy? Reach out to our team for support! 

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