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Writing a Follow-up Appeal for an Unmet Fundraising Goal

Goal setting is crucial to the success of any endeavor. For your nonprofit organization, establishing a fundraising goal motivates your staff and helps you maximize your results. However, while measuring your performance is an essential aspect of fundraising, there are times when your campaign comes to an end and you haven’t quite met your goal.

Not to worry—there are valuable steps your nonprofit can take following your campaign to make the most of your staff’s efforts and donors’ contributions. We’ll walk through these five effective steps in this guide:

  1. Evaluate your fundraising results

  2. Thank your donors

  3. Emphasize impact

  4. Include a call to action

  5. Extend your campaign deadline

Maintaining a positive and improvement-driven attitude toward an unmet fundraising goal can go a long way toward improving your results moving forward. As you begin reaching out to donors about your campaign’s conclusion, follow this course of action to strengthen their support. Let’s dive in!

1. Evaluate your fundraising results

Every fundraising campaign yields useful insights that can inform future campaign improvements and reinforce what you’re already doing well. After falling short of your goal, take the time to gather your team and review your campaign results alongside your fundraising plan and strategy. Some basic metrics to take a look at include:

  • Cost per dollar raised. You can calculate this key performance indicator (KPI) by dividing your campaign expenses by the revenue you earned. This will help you determine how much your nonprofit spent for every dollar earned.

  • Average gift size. This metric allows you to determine whether your organization is generating larger or smaller gifts over time. To calculate, simply divide the total dollar amount of gifts by the number of gifts received.

  • Online gift percentage. This KPI is beneficial for determining how effective your nonprofit’s digital fundraising and marketing efforts are. You can obtain this number by dividing the number of online gifts by the total number of gifts you received during the campaign, then multiplying by 100 to change it into a percentage.

Use this data to guide you in analyzing your campaign outcome and determining specific, actionable adjustments to make in your future fundraising efforts. For instance, if your nonprofit is hoping to attract support from more Gen Z donors in your next campaign, you could refine your social media strategy to boost your results.

2. Thank your donors

Regardless of your fundraising outcome, it’s always important to appreciate those who contributed toward your goal. After all, your nonprofit’s everyday impact is only possible thanks to your donors’ support. Even after your campaign is over, opportunities to raise funds and connect with supporters remain open.

It’s critical to ensure that your thank-you messages are personal and genuine. Segmentation allows you to tailor your messages to donors based on their demographics. Use the information in your donor profiles to create post-campaign communication segments. Then, send an email to thank donors for their contributions and remind them that the work to fulfill your mission continues on. Some common ways to segment your supporters include:

  • Average gift size

  • Event attendance

  • Type of donor, including major and monthly

  • Communication preference

  • Involvement history, such as volunteering

Remember to personalize your message to each individual donor by including their preferred name and referencing their history with your organization. The smallest gift still contributes to the pursuit of your vision. Make your supporters feel valued for their gifts in your campaign to keep them invested in your long-term success.

3. Emphasize impact

While remaining transparent about your campaign outcome, be positive when you communicate your unmet fundraising goal to supporters. Your nonprofit’s staff and donors have invested a lot of time and work into getting your campaign to this point, so highlight all of your progress. This ensures that everyone continues to feel empowered to contribute toward your organization’s purpose.

In your follow-up email appeal to donors, specify the impact of donors’ gifts and how more gifts can further contribute to that impact. For instance, share that your animal shelter fundraiser raised enough to provide 50 puppies with food for the next year, and additional funds will cover their medical care. eCardWidget’s donor recognition guide recommends incorporating social media shoutouts and videos to make your message more engaging and far-reaching.

Tell an impact story that highlights just how gifts can help your nonprofit change someone’s life for the better. This will encourage supporters to develop a more emotional connection with your cause.

4. Include a call to action

“September might be over, but we’re not done yet.” This powerful statement is from one of charity: water’s campaign closing emails sent after they didn’t meet their $2 million goal, and it encapsulates the message you’ll want to convey to donors after your campaign. All year, your nonprofit is putting in the work to make a difference, and it’s essential that you continue raising funds to do so.

charity: water’s follow-up email appeal for its unmet fundraising goal shows how to communicate with positivity and encourage more support.

According to Double the Donation, email has a higher ROI than any other communication channel, making it a great way to send campaign messages. In your follow-up email appeal to supporters, provide specific actions they can take to assist in your success going forward. For instance, encourage them to:

  • Visit your online donation page to make an additional gift.

  • Follow your nonprofit on social media.

  • Opt into your recurring giving program.

  • Sign up for your email newsletter.

  • Check their eligibility for matching gifts.

Even if your nonprofit fell short of its initial fundraising goal, there are still many ways to continue engaging donors and securing more support. Just remember to be positive and direct.

5. Extend your campaign deadline

Depending on your organization’s priorities and resources, consider extending your fundraising campaign to increase your chances of reaching your initial goal. This time around, you can apply the improvements you identified from your data to maximize results. Make an effort to refine your marketing strategy and optimize your fundraising page to facilitate the giving process for donors.

If you choose to extend your deadline, try these strategies to promote your fundraising campaign:

  • Reach out to past donors who haven’t given to this campaign and invite them to contribute.

  • Make it easy for supporters to share your donation page with their personal networks, through nonprofit charity eCards or social media posts.

  • Notify your supporters through direct mail to boost awareness.

  • Encourage your staff and volunteers to spread the word about your fundraising efforts.

Depending on when you held your campaign during the year, choose a reasonable deadline to achieve your fundraising goal. Remember to stay positive to keep donors enthusiastic about supporting your mission.

Beyond any single fundraising campaign, the key to securing the funds your nonprofit needs lies in your donor relationships. Approach your fundraising and marketing efforts with their interests and preferences in mind, using your donor management software to help you.

Maintain regular communication with supporters and send out surveys to discover new ways to heighten their experience with your organization. This ensures that they remain invested in your mission for years to come.


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