A Complete Guide to Formatting, Designing, Printing and Mailing Annual Appeal Letters for Non-Profits

This article covers the two main components to consider when tasked with the creation of annual appeal letters for your non-profit organization; the structure of your fundraising appeal letter and the engagement of your target audience.


A Complete Guide to Formatting, Designing, Printing and Mailing Annual Appeal Letters for Non-Profits

Every year, organizations around the world reach out to members, donors, prospects, and more for financial assistance, to promote their cause, or simply state their need for support. This article will cover the two main components to consider when tasked with the creation of an annual appeal letter for your non-profit organization: 
1. The structure of your fundraising appeal letter
2. The engagement of your target audience 

Appeal Letter Format 

The art of writing an appeal letter is a challenge in itself. You need it to be: 
Emotional and heartfelt.
A piece that tells a story and defines a problem.
An opportunity for the reader to help you with the problem.
A selection of content that funnels the reader to a clear call to action (CTA). 
When writing an appeal letter, remember to keep your wording concise. Use sub-headings to break it up, and give the reader an overview of what you have to say. This is all part of creating an engaging appeal letter format.
Getting your reader to see the content is its own battle. After all, with only a finite amount of resources and numerous organizations competing for your readers’ attention, you need your letter to stand out from the pack. 
Let’s discuss a few easy ways you can develop your fundraising appeal letter to make an impact. 

Fundraising Appeal Letter Design

The design includes elements on the letter and envelope. After you have considered your appeal letter format and created a first draft, return to it and check if you have included any inspiring messages, quotes, or images. Unfortunately, there is the chance the person reading will only skim or read part of the letter, so enhance it with the most important elements to get your point across. These items should be made apparent to the reader with bolding, underlining, or highlighting. 
Your envelope design is equally important. Keep it simple, yet informative and inviting. It’s best to avoid grandiose graphics or massive fonts, as this could indicate that your letter is “spam” or “junk mail.” Instead, feature your non-profit name and logo, campaign, and a few words that encompass your mission or vision.
Pro tip: Use engaging images or art within your letter or on the envelope if it fits your purpose. However, always be careful to create an uncluttered design.

How to Print Your Fundraising Appeal Letter

The key word when it comes to printing is personalization. Variable data printing capabilities allow you to print your appeal letters to address the potential donor by name. You can even ask for specific donation amounts based on their history of giving. The letter can also serve as a “thank you”, politely asking for a new donation and reminding them of how much they have already helped. 
Personalization also deals with showing your recipient how their money is being used. Create a line or two of content that is specific to the recipient. Here’s an example: 
A portion of our ongoing efforts pertains to sending supplies to underprivileged families in Holland, Illinois. Your specific donation of $500 last year provided meals for 20 local families. We are excited to announce that we have now increased our buying power through a food bank, and a donation of the same amount this year will assist an estimated 60 families! We humbly ask that you match or exceed your donation from 2020. 
Make the connection for your donor. It shows you are making them a part of your cause, not just collecting funds. 
Pro-tip: For the literal printing of the letter and envelope, consider a slightly larger font than normal, an easy-to-read font color, and keep paragraphs short and indented with clear margins. Additionally, work with a professional direct mail provider to determine letter/envelope type and size. 

Manage Your Fundraising Appeal Letters with Ease 

Once you have a solid appeal letter format, story and design in place, it’s time to finalize the process:
Review your mailing lists: Your contacts have been compiled over many months, but you may not have taken a look at all of the lists together. Before your letters head to the mail, take one last look and see if there are any key recipients you have missed. 
Set deadlines: Be specific about when you need a response by and provide a return envelope with a pre-printed address and clear direction regarding how to include a donation. 
Send a test batch: You can gain insight into how effective your appeal letters are by sending a test batch to select recipients before the full campaign.
When your letter is in the envelope and ready for the mail, you will need a partner to assist you at the post office. You could handle mailing yourself, but direct mail experts have the ability to get you postage discounts, can ensure you have completed everything correctly to meet United States Postal Service requirements, and can ensure your letters are mailed efficiently and successfully. 

Excel-erate Your Appeal Letter Success 

The printing and mailing experts at Excel can help your non-profit earn results on your next fundraising appeal letter. We have more than 50 years of industry experience with design, print, and mail services all under one roof. Contact us today to streamline the sending of your next non-profit appeal letter and request a free quote to get started.  

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