Subscribe to this blog for news and announcements about Altru.

Why Should I Donate To Your Organization At The End Of The Year?


As a consultant for a software company, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that I’m a bit of a techy. I do everything online which means any “snail mail” that comes to my mailbox gets a cursory glance and (unless it’s important) sits in the “to-be-recycled” pile.
To be honest, during most of the year this doesn’t bother me. There’s just too much junk mail to go through but as a former fundraiser I try to be more sensitive about this around the holidays. During the last few months of the year, I’ll pick out the envelopes from my local non-profits and see what they have to say.
Why Do We Need to Send Out an End of Year Mailing?
End of Year mailings have become popular appeal efforts for non-profits but why do they work well? Let’s be honest. They work well because people often procrastinate and tend to wait until the last minute to make donations to include on their taxes for the calendar year. In the US 30% of all donations happen in December and 10% of those donations will happen between December 29th and 31st. ( Even so, an End of Year mailing is still a great opportunity to engage your donors and prospects.
Okay, We Want to Send Out a Mailing. Now What?
Let’s take a closer look at two different approaches I received last year.
Organization #1 – aka We’re Just Going to Send Stuff Out and See What Happens
The first envelope I received was pretty plain and indistinctive. The return address was small and in a plain font. My name was spelled wrong (a big no, no – I realize I have a pretty distinctive name but if you want me to donate to you, spell it correctly, please.)
Even with all these shortcomings, I wanted to give Organization #1 a fair chance, so I opened the envelope. The letter was two pages with long paragraphs. Clearly these writers had never heard of “white space.” Still, I wanted to give them a fair chance so I dove into the letter. I read about two paragraphs before I stopped. The sentences were long and ambiguous. I wasn’t sure what they were getting at and the letter didn’t really tell me who they are, what they do and why I should support them. Instead the letter went on and on about how we all give donations at the end of the year. Well sure, we do but why should I donate to YOU?
Let’s say I got through the whole letter and wanted to donate. How would I do that? There was a small envelope included in the mailing that was addressed to the organization but that was it. No link to donate online. No information on what I might receive if I donated at specific levels. Not much of anything really.
Still, I wanted to give them a chance so I sent in a $10 donation. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Sometime around the beginning of February (almost two months after I donated), I received a thank you. By that point I had kind of soured on this organization. My donation didn’t seem to be very important to them. The thank you was perfunctory at best and they still spelled my name wrong. (Seriously?)
Organization #1 was lucky I even gave a donation. Most people wouldn’t have even opened the envelope. Those that did open the envelope probably wouldn’t have even read the letter let alone donate. I set all that aside, donated and still got treated poorly. They won’t be getting my donation this year.
Let’s take a look at the organization that will get my donation again this year.
Organization #2 – aka We Love You, You’re Special and We Can’t Do This Without You
The envelope from Organization #2 caught my eye. It was pastel green which stood out amongst all the white envelopes I typically see in the pile. The font on the envelope was large and engaging and they spelled my name correctly. (Yay!) Also printed on the envelope was “We’re in This Together.” Huh, I thought. Wonder what that means?
As I opened the letter, a beautiful picture greeted me. I was intrigued by this picture which clearly demonstrated the organization’s mission and its impact on my community. The letter was smartly formatted with lots of white space and a focused and concise message. The call to action was clear. This organization has an essential impact on my community and needs my investment to continue working in the community.
The letter clearly outlined options with various amounts, benefits to consider and ways to donate. Reading the letter made me feel empowered and hopeful that my donation (as modest as it may be) would make a positive impact on my community.
I immediately whipped out my phone, logged onto their website and made a donation. In addition to the thank you I received after submitting my donation, I got an email thank you the next day and a printed thank you in the mail the day after that.
The printed thank you was just as engaging as the solicitation letter and came in an envelope just as eye catching. A month later I received another email with a short story demonstrating how my investment was being used. Again I felt empowered and hopeful.
This was an organization who took a lot of time to think through their appeal strategies and ways to make their donors feel valuable. And it worked! Not only did they appreciate me as a donor during the crucial end of year months but they have reached out and communicated to me all year.
Wow. We Want to Be Organization #2!
Of course you do! Organization #2 did all the right things. They created an engaging direct mail piece that caught my attention and clearly outlined how I could play an important part in their organization. They provided easy options for me to donate and continued to make me feel like a valued donor even long after I donated.
In this day and age where so many things compete for our attention, it’s crucial to send out solicitations that are engaging, clear and easy to read and make the donor feel valued and empowered. People donate because they want to make a difference and they feel happier when they can help others. And if they can take advantage of tax-deductions along the way, all the better. Now go forth and fundraise!
Looking for a little help to make sure you’re getting the most out of Altru with your end of year campaign? Our Altru experts can ensure you get the best ROI from your end of year giving campaigns by creating the segmentations, appeal mailings, and ask ladders you need. Learn more about these offers at

Posted by Kalai Taihook on Nov 9, 2016 10:10 AM America/New_York

Leave a Comment

Log in to post a comment.

Great information!
  • Posted Fri 18 Nov 2016 08:24 AM EST
I always find it interesting to see what sort of mailings I receive and really consider what makes me compelled to send a donation their way. I recently donated to a very small local organization and had a personally written thank you sent to me. Although most of us can't manage to do that, by making the experience feel as personal as we can and truly showing appreciation in some way, the more likely we can continue and grow that relationship.
  • Posted Fri 18 Nov 2016 12:00 PM EST
Interesting article. I have read different studies on the effectiveness of using a plain (boring) white envelope vs. a bold, graphic envelope with teasers. But getting the name right is a no-brainer!
  • Posted Fri 18 Nov 2016 01:45 PM EST
I automatically toss any envelope that looks like a bulk mailing. My personal opinion is that it's better to spend a little extra on the heavier weight stationary and not have generic text on the outside with the name in Courier font. And, yes, get the name right!
  • Posted Fri 18 Nov 2016 04:12 PM EST
Love organization is a key factor~! So many people feel you can just mail mail mail without rhyme or reason!
  • Posted Wed 23 Nov 2016 11:57 AM EST