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Building a Successful Year-End Campaign

For fundraisers, year-end really is the most wonderful time of the year—many organizations raise more in the last three months of the year than the other nine combined.

That means that right now, you’re probably deep in the throes of planning your year-end fundraising campaign. No pressure, right?!

Here are a few tips to help you craft inspiring and successful copy for your year-end direct mail and digital appeals:

Share a Story

When the parts of our brain involved in empathy and valuing other people’s perspectives are activated, we’re more likely to make a charitable gift. That’s why storytelling is so powerful in fundraising: because it’s the best way to allow a donor to experience empathy and another’s point of view.

And because giving is an emotional decision, not a rational one, appeals with stories will always outperform fact- or statistics-based content. So for best results, focus on narrative rather than numbers in your year-end content.

Problem → Solution → Action

It’s an oldie but a goodie, because it works! The three things your donor needs to know are:

  • What’s the problem you’re asking them to solve?

  • What’s the solution to that problem?

  • What’s the action you need them to take right now?

By mapping your content out this way, you’re making it as easy as possible for your donor to do something really amazing—supporting a cause they care about.

Optimize for Skimmers

Apparently, some donors decide to give (or not) within 4 seconds of opening your email or letter…before they’ve even read anything!

And many don’t actually read your content—instead they’ll skim it quickly. But just because some people don’t read every word, that doesn’t mean they’re any less responsive to your appeal, or that they care any less about the problem you’re asking them to solve.

So to help make sure they don’t miss out on an opportunity to help, you can optimize your content by:

  • Using bold, underlining, even colour to highlight content related to your fundraising ask and offer. Ask yourself: if the donor only reads the highlighted bits, will they have enough information to know what you’re asking them to do, and the problem they can solve?

  • Varying your sentence and paragraph lengths, so the donor isn’t overwhelmed by a wall of text on the page or screen

  • Writing at a grade 6 to grade 8 level (we’re big fans of using the Hemingway editor to evaluate readability!)

Don’t Forget the P.S.

Particularly in direct mail, donors will read the P.S. before they read anything else in your letter. Maximize the postscript’s prime real estate by repeating your clear and compelling ask here (and avoid the temptation to tack on extraneous content, like details about your online petition or tickets to your event).

If your donor reads nothing else but your P.S., they’ll still know exactly what you’re asking them to do—increasing the chance they’ll make that quick, emotional decision to make a gift.

Best wishes for a successful year-end campaign. You got this!


If you’re looking for help with your year-end appeals, we’d be delighted to talk to you about our copywriting, campaign management, coaching, or strategy services. You can contact us at

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Holly H. Paulin, CFRE and Brock Warner CFRE are the co-founders of Broccoli, and have over 30 years combined experience helping nonprofit fundraisers and charities do more. 

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