Special to the Philanthropy Journal
By Janet L. Falk
As the holiday season approaches, nonprofit professionals plan for year-end giving, the time of year when most organizations receive the largest percentage of donations from individuals. In anticipation of sending an annual year-end letter or appeal, consider whether creating a distinctive, eye-catching holiday greeting card (or e-card) might be appropriate to engage your organization’s friends and contacts.
The objective of such a card is to tap into the giving spirit of the season and to acknowledge the donor’s generosity in supporting your nonprofit. Having the opportunity to give will make the recipient feel good about themselves and their association with the organization. The card should show how their prior contribution was used for programs and implicitly request another gift to ensure the activity continues.
Instead of sending a holiday card selected from a catalog, one that a business or a dentist might have picked, start the card with a photo of a staff member in action, speaking with a client at a food bank or leading a job training workshop, for example. Without revealing the face of a client, this picture captures the essence of the organization and conveys an appreciative, albeit unspoken, message:
Here is how we used your gift to achieve our mission in the ways you hoped we would when you made your donation.
With a photo taken on your premises and focused on a staff member, the image will be as unique as your organization.
Leave a border around the photo so that you have space to place text that refers to the activity pictured, citing your nonprofit’s name, your appreciation and the impact of the gift:
Thank you for your help during an incredible year in which Nonprofit Food Bank delivered more than 657 tons of food to 15,000 hungry families in our community.
By putting the name of your organization (and perhaps the logo) in the frame, there’s no need to open the card to read who sent it.
Inside the card, compose a message that warmly wishes the recipient the joys of the holiday season and the promise of the New Year. Text such as From the Staff and Board of Directors of Nonprofit Name might be printed inside as well, with a handwritten signature from the staff person closest to that recipient, as a thoughtful touch if possible.
A descriptive one-paragraph summary of the organization, its address, phone and website should appear on the back of the card.
An e-card holiday greeting is another option if the design, printing and postage of a card are beyond the nonprofit’s budget. The subject line should convey appreciation tied to the organization’s mission:
Holiday Greetings and Thanks to You, for Your Support of Job-Readiness Classes
Note there is no need to mention the name of the nonprofit in the subject line, because it is referenced as the sender of the email.
Here, too, use a photo and short narrative caption in a graphic image, similar to the frame of the printed card. Paste the image in the email. Add best wishes for the holiday season and the name, address and phone of the nonprofit, plus a link to the website.
There’s room for additional text, but be careful and do not fill the space. This is an e-card, not a newsletter.
Getting the Message Out
Now that you have designed and printed the card (or e-card), plan the assembly and distribution to supporters and friends. Coordinate the names on lists of recipients supplied by staff members to avoid duplication.
Looking ahead, consider the response of the recipient, who will likely display the card among many others on the door or credenza.
The cards may blend together, but the white frame around the photo will make your card stand out among the others when viewed by the recipient’s office colleagues.
This holiday greeting card creates a bond with the recipient, one where they might reflect on the success of your organization when they takes all the cards down from the display in January. Imagine their smile as they think, “This is from Nonprofit Food Bank; I really should get more involved in the great work they are doing. Where’s my credit card?”
Janet Falk of Falk Communications and Research provides media relations and marketing communications services to nonprofit organizations. She helps nonprofit professionals be quoted in news articles to attract new clients and donors, and drive attendance to events.