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Creating Year-End Appeals

Once again it’s time for your organization to send out year-end appeals. When creating year-end appeals, it’s important to segment them so that not everyone receives the exact same letter. You don’t want to appear too impersonal, especially to those donors who have given frequently, given recently, or have given large gifts. As an example, your organization may consider segmenting your donors into these groups, receiving 3 different types of letters:

  • Donors who have given in the current calendar year. – The letter will acknowledge their recent giving, perhaps even mentioning the amount or date of the most recent gift, or the year-to-date total. You will still make an appeal, but perhaps a lighter one than someone who hasn’t given recently.
  • Donors who not given in the current calendar year, but have given at some point in the previous 3 years. – These donors have provided somewhat recent support, and we want to try to retain them. Acknowledge their past support, and make a strong appeal for their renewed support.
  • Everyone else – While being careful to not sound too much like a form letter, this letter will not necessarily have the personal acknowledgements of previous giving or references to how long it has been. This letter may provide move background information about what the organization has been doing, and explain why their financial support is important. (This is especially important if you this list contains people who haven’t donated in quite some time, or who have never donated, but perhaps have volunteered or supported the organization in other ways.)

Further, depending on the size of your list, you may choose to mail some of the letters in house, and send others to a third party mail house. For example, at the organization our lead developer worked at, they would generate letters for the donors who gave in the current calendar year and the donors who gave in the last two years in house (around 700). These letters were all hand signed, and some also received a personal note. Every other letter (around 3,000) went to a mail house.

So, how does Donor Wrangler allow you to do this? Let’s step through the process. In our example, we’ll categorize our donors as described above, starting from the very first step.

Creating Your Letter Templates

First, you must create your letter templates for each donor group. If you will utilize Donor Wrangler to both run your mailing list and generate the letters, you will create your letter templates as described in the help article Creating Letter Templates. If you will utilize an outside mailing house, write your letters according to their specifications. Likely they will use Word and mail merge.

Running a Report and Segmenting Your List

You will utilize the Donor List by Most Recent Payment Date report to segment your list. (See the Basics of Running Reports article for more information.) For the first group, donors who have given in the current calendar year, simply click the Reset Filters button, then change the date filter to be for the current year:

With this donor group, if you will be utilizing Donor Wrangler to generate your letters, you will now use a Bulk Action to add your letter template for them. Or, if you’re sending the data to a third party mail house, click the CSV or XLS button to export the data. Further, we’ll also create a new Tag for these donors, called Donors Who Gave in 2023. (Refer to the help article  **Utilizing Tags for Donors **for more information.) We will use these tags later to determine who falls into our third group.

Next, we’ll get our group of donors who have not given in the current calendar year, but have given at some point in the previous 3 years. We’ll utilize this exact same report. Click the Reset Filters button, and change the Most Recent Payment Date filter to “Custom Range”. We’ll set the starting date to January 1, 2019 and the ending date to December 31, 2022. Now we will repeat the process to create a letter (or export the data) and create a new tag: Donors Who Gave in 2019-2022.

Now, for our third group, everyone else, we will need to make sure we enable the “Donor Tags Include None Of” filter. Click Reset Filters in the upper right, and then click the Change Filters button. Search for and enable this filter:

Click save. When the page reloads, use the filter to select the two tags you just created. You will be left with a list of donors who don’t have either of those tags, meaning they aren’t in either group:

Now with this third group, we add our letter template using a bulk action, or export the list for the mail house. With that, you’ve successfully segmented your donor list and prepared your year-end appeals mailing.

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