Creating Your 2021 Tax Appeal: Answer These Four Critical Questions First

Blackbaud Pacific

Your June tax appeal has the potential to be your biggest fundraising campaign of the year! That means it's extra critical to take your time and get it right.

The four key questions below are designed to help you create your most compelling direct mail letter. Use these to ensure all aspects of your integrated campaign including email and social media are powerful and effective.

1. What are your specific goals for the campaign?

You may have heard the saying, "if you aim at nothing, you’re bound to hit it." And the same is true in fundraising.

As you plan your appeal, write down some very specific goals including:

  • How many new donors are we hoping to acquire?
  • What is the exact dollar figure we are hoping to raise?
  • How exactly will the funds be used?

The answers to these questions will not only help guide your writing and marketing efforts, they’ll also be vital in helping you determine how successful your campaign has been.

2. Who are we trying to reach?

One obvious answer to this question is ‘our donors’, but it’s important we dig a little deeper here. If you’re planning an acquisition campaign this tax time, you need to get very specific on precisely who you’re trying to reach. Keep these questions in mind:

  • Based on our current donor profiles, what age group is most likely to respond to our message?
  • Where do our ideal prospects live and how will we reach them?
  • Will we use Direct Mail only, or will we also try targeting prospects through social media?

The more detail you can add to your ideal prospect profile, the better chance you have of actually reaching them with a relevant message, and seeing more prospects become donors.

3. What's our most compelling story?

When it comes to fundraising, the best approach is to follow the rule of “show, don’t tell.” That means, instead of creating a list of facts and figures that demonstrate the problem your organisation solves, let the reader figure it out for themselves by sharing a story with them.

Your ideal story should include:

  • A vivid description of the problem faced by the subject of your story
  • How gifts from donors helped them find a solution
  • Why the world is a better place because of the donor’s actions

The goal here is for prospective donors to understand why they need to give – and the impact their gift can have – through a simple story.

4. What do you want your donors to do in response?

Once you’ve defined your goals, understood your target audience, and identified a compelling story, you need to tell donors what they need to do next.

Here’s how you can do that as part of your integrated campaign:

  • For Direct Mail, include 2-4 direct ‘asks’ in your fundraising letter. Generally speaking, you will want to have at least one ask on the first page, one ask in the ‘P.S.’, and usually one other ask towards the end of the letter. The reason you need so many asks is that your readers will be skimming through the letter, and will most likely not read it in full.
  • For email, use a shorter version of your direct mail appeal including a basic summary of the story, and create two possible ways your donor can respond. The first way should be through linked text (e.g. Please give now to help more children). The second way should be through an obvious button at the end of your message with a simple ‘Give now’ message.
  • For social media, base your main fundraising post on the copy in the email, and include a link to your online giving form or landing page. You should also create 2-3 additional posts as the campaign gets closer to ending, letting your followers know time is running out to give.
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