Year-End Appeal Letter: The Importance of a Year-end Appeal
by Roy and Margaret Fitzwater, CDM, Woodland Park, CO
The day the “you are in deficit” email landed in my inbox, Margaret and I looked each other in the eye and determined we would never get to this point again.
And we haven’t.
An important part of our funding strategy includes mailing a year-end funding appeal. This letter normally quadruples our average monthly income in December and January and helps us through months when giving is lower, such as March.
Before we tell you about our year-end letter, Margaret and I want to stress that we make a priority of doing MPD throughout the year—we don’t just rely on “the magic letter” to stay funded. We take seriously the ministry part of ministry partner development MPD. We send a quarterly newsletter (just news—we never mention money even in a “please pray for our funding” way) and send six prayer partner emails. We also mail birthday and anniversary cards. (We've received so many positive comments on these that it’s worth the time and effort!) Once a year, we send a personal, hand-written thank-you note to every member of our team (divided up each month so we don’t get writer’s cramp) and a Christmas gift mailed the day after Thanksgiving. (We usually send a NavPress book—they’re 65% off when given away, and it’s such a great opportunity to give spiritual input to our team and promote a key partner in The Navigators.)
Now back to the appeal letter. When we write the letter, we keep four groups of people from our mailing list in mind:
• Monthly givers
• Annual givers
• Lapsed givers (for us, this is anyone who hasn’t given in the last 13 months)
• Potential givers
We write one core letter and change the appeal for each group. We thank monthly givers for being faithful ministry partners, and we invite them to consider increasing their current monthly amount or making a special year-end gift above their regular giving. We thank our annual givers as well for previous gifts, and we invite them to make a similar gift and even to consider increasing their gift amount. We thank our lapsed givers for their past support and invite them to rejoin the team. We invite potential givers to begin giving on a monthly or annual basis.
One other suggestion. A dear friend and fundraising consultant told us the reason people like roll-top desks is it gives them “cubbies” in which to put their stuff. Many people treat their giving in the same way—they like to have a say in where it goes. Our year-end letter always offers more than one option for giving: our monthly shortfall, an upcoming conference or special trip, a special need, etc. People like having options—even if they don’t designate their gift, which few of our partners do. We also include a statement like this in case we raise more than our stated need in a particular area:
“You can specify any of these on the enclosed reply card, or allow us to designate your gift to the area of greatest need. If we receive more than we need for any area, we will shift it to another.”
Something we began doing two years ago has been highly beneficial. We send a follow-up email to every person who receives an appeal letter 10 days after mailing the letter. The email contains an update on where we are on our goal, and a link to give electronically. This has significantly increased online giving and last-minute giving on December 31.
We cannot encourage you enough to mail a year-end letter! Pray over the letters as you stuff and mail, then sit back and watch God do amazing things as He moves in the hearts of people you invite to partner with you.
Contact Roy and Margaret Fitzwater by via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a member of the MPD team at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: Samples of the Fitzwaters’ appeal letters and email are viewable on the navigatormpd.org website.