The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

How Did You Handle…? A Brilliant Change-Up for Your Year-End Campaign (and Beyond!)

Read Part One and Part Two

This post wraps up our first topic in the new How Did You Handle…? series—specific how-tos based on your experiences.

Here’s the why and how-to behind a change-up likely to be relevant to your year-end prospects (and beyond):

Change-Up: Introducing a new fundraising spokesperson—one of our clients (that is, someone who’s been helped by our donors’ support).

Keeping It All About Our Donors, Not Our Organization

Traditionally, all year-end communications have come from our executive director, who reviews the past year’s work and impact. That’s how most organizations do it, after all.

But this year, we decided to ask one of our clients to share her story of what donors have done for her family, along with her thanks and a request for more support to help folks like her. We wanted donors to see for themselves the value of their donations, and we couldn’t think of a better way to make that happen.

Meet Julie, Our Spokesperson (and Beneficiary)

Julie is one of our food bank’s beneficiaries and the voice behind our 2014 year-end appeal for major donors—those who give $1,000-plus over the course of a year.

Julie is a successful businesswoman and mother in our community—just like so many of our major donors. She reached out to us after her life toppled to the point of needing emergency food, something she never expected to happen. We helped her feed her family when she had nowhere else to turn.

Her story is particularly powerful for major donors because it shows a different face of hunger—someone who went from living in the wealthiest area in our community to standing in a food line, and now working again and giving back, all thanks to the help of our donors. Best of all, Julie wanted to help.

Creating the Campaign

We began by inviting Julie to a face-to-face interview where she verbally “wrote” a letter to our major donors—her peers, in effect—about her experience with us. We built that conversation into a two-page campaign letter based mainly on Julie’s own words, and then powered it up with color photos, a first-time addition for our outreach to this group of donors. Since Julie requested that we not show her face, we used images of her hands holding fresh produce, carrying it in overstuffed bags, and placing bags of food into her car; these will be included as a series of stills at the bottom of each page of the letter. Specific images like this reinforce the reality of Julie’s experience for our donors in a way that’s hard to forget.

Thankfully, Julie recently started a new job and is eager to give back to the community by volunteering at the same food distribution site where she stood in line just a few months ago. We’ll feature this good news in a follow-up in our gift acknowledgement thank-you letter. In fact, Julie is so grateful for our donors’ help that she wants to add personal notes to these letters.

We’ll Keep You Posted

We think that sharing Julie’s story with major donors—featuring words and photos from someone just like them—is likely to motivate them to add to their support and/or get further involved in our mission in other ways.

Our hopes are high!

Source: Renee Thompson, director of philanthropy, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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