10 Reasons this Fundraising Appeal Hits it Out of the Ballpark

It's a home run!

How to knock it out of the park with your fundraising appeal!

It’s not about the money. It’s about the mission and the impact.  This year-end fundraising blog post from 2013 by a recent nonprofit client of mine, One Justice, absolutely nails why we ask folks for support. It’s about what will happen if we don’t engage in fundraising.

I encourage you to read and consider the full post. For while we may be at the beginning of the calendar year, there’s no reason you can’t use the key elements of this approach year-round. It’s not just about the prose; it’s about the attitude. [Personal note: I continue to be inspired by the awesome Julia Wilson, One Justice Executive Director, and am so proud of her for writing and sharing this. I take no credit whatsoever. This is pure Julia. She ‘gets it.’]

Here are 10 reasons why this appeal not only touches every base but hits it out of the ballpark:

1. The headline — How could we not move mountains to get to him? — is a bona fide attention grabber. It hints at a story – one you want to hear.  And it also sets folks up for an appeal, so they aren’t in the least bit surprised when they click “open.”  They don’t feel deceived, because they’re ready to learn about moving mountains.

2. The perspective is truly donor-centered.  This is tricky, because you never want to apologize for fundraising.  I often work with boards and advise them to never say things like “I know you hate to get this call” or “Well, it’s that time of year again.”  But that’s because all too often folks take a very contrite stance, hanging their heads and acting as if they’re begging.  Julia gets around this by empathizing with the reader “If I get one more nonprofit fundraising email, I think my head might explode.” She then deftly reminds folks that this isn’t done with the intent to annoy. It’s done with a purpose that she – and presumably the donor – hold close to their heart.

3. It tells a story. It’s the story of a unique individual who was helped, and it paints a picture of him that makes us want to rush to his side. He was brave. He served our country “at great personal cost.” It’s our responsibility to take care of him now.

4. It plays to key human motivators. We’re driven to be empathic and take care of one another.

5. It puts the donor in the role of hero. If you donate, you can end the suffering of countless others like the protagonist featured here. It invokes the ‘golden rule,’ reminding folks to do unto others as they would have done unto them. This is a powerful message, echoed in some way by most major religions. It resonates.

6. It reminds people they are not giving to the organization, but to those the organization serves: “So every time I pick up the phone to call a donor – or post something about our New Year’s Eve Challenge – this photo reminds me of the deeper meaning of these fundraising campaigns.”

7. It links directly, several times, to a campaign-specific donation landing page. This makes it easy for the donor to give (with just one click) at whatever point in the appeal they may feel moved to do so.

8. It includes a compelling photo to remind supporters of the impact of their gift. Including images has been demonstrated to boost online success.

9. It hammers home the organization’s aspirational vision – reminding people to imagine a day when equal justice is accorded to all. In this way, it is about fundraising as transforming the world. It’s not just about this single transaction, or even this single donor. It’s a communal endeavor.  And research shows we are predisposed to want to become members of a tribe.

And last, but by no means least important…

10. The signature shows Julia’s title to be “Executive Director & Chief Fundraiser.” Wow! Anyone who has labored in the nonprofit vineyards knows how impossible it can be to raise funds with an ED who won’t embrace fundraising.  This calls a spade a spade. And it shows the ED is not in the slightest bit embarrassed about doing what needs to be done to further the organization’s mission. She understands that they’ve earned the right to do so, based on all the good the organization is accomplishing in the world. People rely on them. She won’t let them down, and hopes the donors won’t either.

What tips would you add to this list to make sure your fundraising appeal hits a home run?

Speaking of home runs, the absolutely surest way to hit one is through major gifts from individuals.  After all, when you ask face-to-face you have a 50% chance of success! No matter your size or mission, it’s the best way to sustain your organization over time.  You owe it to yourself to check out my new E-Course: Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies. It’s convenient, affordable and jam-packed with actionable tips you can put to use immediately to raise more money. And if you reserve before January 17th you’ll save $30!

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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. Wow, thank you Claire! And we learned it from YOU!

  2. Lovely appeal! Just wondering how it performed, though. We’ve been taking this kind of approach in our appeals but found no real difference in response rates.

    • Thanks Brenna. The campaign was a great success. It was a $15K challenge and they raised more than $15K. However, as with any campaign, it’s always tricky to know which media channel to which to attribute success. This blog post appeal was part of a multi-channel approach that included email and social media blasts. It’s a bit like advertising. What caused me to purchase the new soda in the blue bottle? Was it the billboard I saw on my way to work? The bus shelter banner? The ad in the paper? They all contributed to my rising awareness. That’s why multi-channel marketing is so important. You never know where the tipping point will be. :-)

  3. Wow! This article is an eye opener.
    Joelle O’Reilly-Hyland recently posted…Joelle O’Reilly-Hyland on Growing Africa’s FutureMy Profile


  1. […] 10 Reasons This Fundraising Appeal Hits It Out of the Ballpark : It’s not about the money. It’s about the mission and the impact.  This year-end fundraising blog post from 2013 by One Justice, absolutely nails why we ask folks for support….Clairification Blog […]

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