How to Write a Powerful Year-End Giving Letter (with Samples)

Nonprofit professionals know year-end giving cannot be ignored. Approximately 30% of all annual giving happens in December and 10% occurs in the last three days of the year! We’ve outlined the basic guidelines to follow when writing a year-end giving letter and provided samples to help you get started.

8 minutes read
How to Write a Powerful Year-End Giving Letter (with Samples)

If you’re a nonprofit professional, you know that year-end giving cannot be ignored.

Approximately 30% of all annual giving occurs in December and about 10% of all annual giving occurs in the last three days of December.

Year-end There are many facets to an effective year-end fundraising strategy, but writing a powerful year-end giving letter is one of the most important contributing elements.

Developing an awesome and effective ask with your giving season appeal letter may seem a little tricky, but we have some tried and tested tactics to make it simple for you.

First, listen to Cara, our nonprofit expert at Donorbox, and Kara, our senior content writer, on this podcast episode –

▶️Subscribe to our YouTube channel to master fundraising with pro tips and actionable advice from nonprofit and fundraising experts.

Get Started With Donorbox

Now, let’s walk through the steps to writing a powerful year-end giving letter!

 1. Plan Your Year-End Campaign

Your fundraising appeal letter should only be one part of your year-end campaign. Before writing the donation letter, make sure you plan out your end-of-year strategy – don’t solely rely on the mailed appeal to meet your fundraising goals.

Start planning this giving season strategy in September – or even as early as August! This way, you have time to analyze last year’s campaign, segment your audience, look at your current budget and operations, set goals, create content and materials, and more.

Establish deadlines for drafting your year-end giving letter, receiving feedback, reviewing it, and sending it out. Remember – sending direct mail can be a long process, even after you send it off to the printer. And it always takes longer for letters to get through the mail during the holiday season. So give yourself plenty of time! 

2. Figure Out and Segment Your Audience

Send out your fundraising letters to anyone associated with your nonprofit: past and current donors and supporters, sponsors, volunteers, staff, beneficiaries, and any other individuals who have expressed interest in your organization.

However, try your best to segment your audience and send a slightly different letter to everyone. For example, previous or repeat donors should receive a year-end appeal letter to prospects or volunteers, since you’ll want to thank them for their past contributions.

You can segment your donors according to a variety of characteristics, depending on your nonprofit’s mission and size:

– How they were acquired;

– Gift size;

– Engagement level;

– The frequency of giving;

– Preferred ways to give;

– Preferred communication methods.

Segmenting your audience and sending out relevant year-end fundraising letters will increase your conversion rates and the number of donations you end up receiving. Donorbox lets you easily segment your secure donor data by applying a number of filters. These filters and segmentation also help you personalize your letters and create a deeper bond with these donors.

year end giving letter

Explore Donorbox Donor Management

3. Get Your Donation Forms Ready

Before sending out your year-end appeal letter, ensure that your donation forms and your donation page are in tip-top shape.

Your donation page, alongside a good fundraising strategy, is the single most important thing you need to invest in if you want donors to give online.

Keep your donation page and form simple and clear, with a call-to-action displayed front and center. Use powerful images, tell a story about the impact donors will have, and ensure your brand is carried throughout. In your form, offer multiple giving options, including recurring donations, tribute gifts, and designated funds, plus several payment methods.

It’s also crucial to design a donation page that is mobile-friendly. This means the donation page will automatically resize according to the device being used, allowing for an optimal giving experience every time.

Pro Tip: Don’t hide your donation button! A donor should be able to find your donation link within a couple of seconds of your donation page loading. A good practice is to place the link on the top navigation found in the website’s header and ensure it stands out with an eye-catching color.

Donorbox gives you access to all these features and more. Here’s an example from Sentient Media of an effective end-of-year donation form and page created on Donorbox.

Sentient Media - 2022 Year-End Appeal Campaign on Donorbox

Sign Up For Free

4. Give Thanks and Stay Positive

One of the most important elements of a good end-of-the-year appeal letter is to give thanks to your donors and supporters.

Whether you’re thanking them for their monetary donation, a gift of their time, or their support on social media – make sure your gratitude is enthusiastic but genuine.

Giving thanks ties in well with showcasing impact. Your year-end giving letter should have a positive tone, describing the impact the donations have on the lives of beneficiaries. In your donation letter, consider listing exactly how different levels of donations make an impact – $100 covers an hour of therapy, $300 feeds a family for a month, etc.

People are motivated to give in order to make an impact on the world or the lives of others, and won’t be motivated by appeals to reach your organization’s yearly financial goals.

Reinforce a sense of community and ownership, and ensure that donors keep that warm feeling throughout the process of giving.

5. Keep it Simple and Easy

When writing your annual giving letter, don’t overcomplicate it.

Be explicit in explaining what your nonprofit does. And be upfront with your ask. People often read only the opening and closing paragraphs in a donation request letter, so make sure both are impactful and make the reader want to give. That’s why it’s also a good idea to include a P.S. – it’s been proven that many readers will read your P.S. first, so be sure to summarize your letter here in one to two powerful sentences.

Also, make it very easy for your donors to read and understand the letter. Don’t use jargon and keep your language simple and to the point. This isn’t the time to bust out the dictionary!  

6. Tell a Story

In addition to keeping your letter straightforward, as well as easy to read and understand, ensure your tone is friendly and conversational.

The tone of your fundraising letter should be warm, almost like talking to a friend. And it’s highly recommended that you tell a story to connect donors with the impact of their gift.

Storytelling can be a powerful fundraising tool if done right. Tell a story of a single beneficiary your organization helped and, through that, showcase your mission and all the ways in which donations will have an impact. Really paint the picture – adding details like age and location (or even the person’s interests) can make your year-end giving letter more grounded in reality and more personal.

In addition, use donor-centric language throughout the appeal letter. That means using the word ‘you’ more often than the word ‘we’ – focus on what the donor does for your beneficiaries, not what your organization accomplishes –

  • Thanks to your generous gift of $300 last year, three homeless women received vital sanitary supplies.
  • Because of your ongoing financial support, we’ve raised $50,000 for animals in need of urgent medical care.

7. Create a Sense of Urgency and Highlight a Call-to-Action

While you don’t want to be overly pushy, it’s good to remind your supporters that this is their last chance to make a tax-deductible donation and have an impact this giving season. Make it clear why giving right now is so urgent – is there a matching grant with a deadline or a program in need of immediate funding?

Be sure that your call to action – donate – is obvious as well. Reiterate this call to action throughout the letter in direct language, and explicitly restate your request in your closing and P.S. If your readers don’t know what you want them to do, they won’t take that crucial next step in making a gift!

Pro tip: Have your board members or staff read the year-end giving letter and provide feedback. Even a trusted friend or family member can be a good sounding board! 

8. Make it Compelling

Simplicity and directness reign supreme when it comes to year-end giving letters. But you’ll need to stand out from the crowd if you want to capture (and keep!) donors’ attention.

Get creative and inventive with your end-of-year appeals – find stories that are unique to your organization and think outside the box when it comes to listing the impact different levels of gifts will make. It won’t be long before you start seeing those donations pouring in!

Year-End Giving Letter Samples

To help you visualize the tips we just provided, here are two fundraising appeal letter samples you can use to inspire your own writing.

Sample 1

Donor Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip/Postal Code

Dear (Donor name),

No one should have to choose between making rent and feeding their families.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many of our neighbors. With the skyrocketing prices of basic goods, wages simply can’t keep up.

Several families are experiencing the effects of unrelenting inflation, making it very hard for those already struggling to make ends meet.

There are so many people who never would have considered using a food pantry or asking for assistance before, but are now struggling and reaching out to (name of charity) for help.

(Charity) fills the gap for families who are especially pinched right now by ensuring neighbors in need have choices of quality, healthy food and are welcomed and met with dignity. 

Your support means that (charity) can continue to welcome thousands of people each year who need food and connections to resources.

(Donor name), you are so loyal with your giving. Thank you. You help fill grocery carts and pantry shelves. Will you make an additional one-time, year-end donation to meet the needs of neighbors choosing between making rent and feeding their families?

Imagine the life-giving difference you will make when you give this year.

One visitor to (charity) shared, “Personally, being able to use (charity) each week has made us feel blessed and cared for in a way that is hard to express. Financially, the weekly groceries have enabled us to keep up with our bills. The love and support (charity) provides are priceless.”

Life continues to be difficult for far too many in our community. Give today to make this winter easier on our neighbors.


Hand-signed in blue ink

(Your name), (Job title)
(Your organization)

P.S. You can change the lives of hungry families in your community this holiday season. Make your gift by returning the attached or visiting (link to website).

Sample 2

Donor Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip/Postal Code

Dear (Donor Name), 

What a difference a year makes! 

This year, more parents than ever turned to (charity) looking for the extra support they need to raise their children in today’s challenging world. You gave and provided important resources that will impact homes just like yours. 

We’re committed to coming alongside these mothers and fathers as they navigate parenthood and provide the tools they need to positively impact the next generation. And you make this possible. 

Will you make a year-end gift to (charity) by December 31 to ensure (charity) is ready to meet the need that’s just around the corner? 

Your year-end gift will:

  • Get a new user-friendly website live
  • Fund new resources on parenting topics
  • Provide parenting classes for those looking for extra support

Your gift before December 31 makes all the difference. Give now. 


Hand-signed in blue ink

(Your name), (Job title)
(Your organization)

P.S. Provide impactful tools and resources that give local parents the confidence and knowledge to nurture their children. Give today by returning the attached or visiting (link to website). 


The above samples have different approaches and cater to different causes. But their intention is the same – to capture more donations in the last few days of the year.

Along with the content and style, remember to provide all the necessary information regarding the donation process and payment methods.

Make the year-end giving experience smooth and enjoyable for your donors so they want to complete their gift – and give again.


Your year-end giving letter can be one of your most powerful fundraising tools. With a little bit of work, creativity, and courage, you can meet and exceed your fundraising goals and further your nonprofit mission.

Writing powerful fundraising letters takes time and effort, but it will be well worth it when you hit your goals. Donorbox can also help you hit those goals with a powerful suite of fundraising tools, including donation forms, peer-to-peer campaigns, text-to-give, event ticketing, and so much more – learn more on our website.

Looking for more nonprofit resources and tips? Check out the Nonprofit Blog to find ways to boost your fundraising this giving season and year-round!

Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

  • twitter
  • linkedin
  • url

Join the fundraising movement!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive the latest blogs, news, and more in your inbox.

Take your donor experience to the next level!
Join the 50,000+ nonprofits already raising funds online.