Make Your Website Accessible

User-friendly interface.

I had the opportunity to work with an incredible fundraiser at a nonprofit I used to work at.  And one of the things he taught me (among many others) was that colors aren’t visible to everyone the same way.

He showed me how, on our website, the two colors used in our organization’s marketing were difficult for him to see.

We realized that our fundraising could reach so many more people who cared about our mission if we made a few adjustments.

Here are some beginning ideas to make your online content more accessible to your donors – especially to your donors with older eyes.

  • Use high-contrast text, and minimize reverse text where possible.  Try a contrast checker to see if the colors you’re using are easily readable and high-contrast.
  • Check to make sure your font is large enough and easily readable.  For online reading, a sans serif font works best.
  • Make your donation form simple and quick.
  • Use alternative text and photo captions that clearly summarize photos and what you want the donor to do.

These are just a few ways to get started.  I’m definitely not a web designer or accessibility expert, but I’ve learned that we can always be looking for ways to improve, educate our teams, and create a culture that prioritizes accessibility in our fundraising.

PS — Want to dig deeper?  Try putting your organization’s website into WAVE.  This tool will evaluate your website’s accessibility according to the Web Accessibility Guidelines.

Make Your Fundraising Offers Accessible

Simple offer.

Finding an accessible offer for an annual giving donor can be one of the most difficult challenges in fundraising. 

Here’s why: Your annual giving donor doesn’t have all day to read about all your programs. She might have just $30 to contribute, AND she still wants to make a difference.

An accessible offer will show her the incredible difference she can make with just her $30 and a few minutes of her time. 

An accessible offer is:

  • Direct – It’s a clear solution to the problem presented.
  • Specific – It tells her exactly what her gift will do.
  • A Good Deal – It’s affordable, and the donor feels her gift will go a long way.
  • Urgent – It demonstrates why her gift is needed now.

Here are some examples:

  • $35 provides a night of safety and care
  • $7.50 provides a meal for a college student who can’t afford it
  • $55 provides a day of summer camp
  • $37 provides 1 art class for a middle-schooler

An accessible offer requires the donor to understand less about your organization.  Most nonprofits work under the incorrect assumption that a donor “must know all about all the things we do, and that we are good at it” before the donor can be asked to give a gift.

But offers that present ONE compelling part of what your organization does are more accessible to your $30 donor.  Offers like this will increase your appeal results, and your donors will feel amazing knowing the incredible difference they can make!

PS — You might be thinking, “OK, so our offer is $7.  Are we going to get a ton of $7 gifts?  Aren’t we going to raise less money this way because our donors are going to give less?”  Check out page 24 in this free Offers E-book to learn the answer!

Make Your Appeal Letters Accessible

Accessible typewriter.

We want to help you create appeal letters that are accessible for your donors.

You may have heard that the average donor is a 65-year-old woman.  She receives a LOT of mail.  To get through it all, she’s scanning and in a hurry.  But that doesn’t change the fact that she wants to make a difference.

The easier it is for a donor to read and understand your appeals, the more accessible your appeals are, and the more likely your donors are to give.

Here are some ways to make your appeals more accessible for your donors:

  • Use font size 12 and up.
  • Indent the beginning of each paragraph.
  • Write in high-contrast colors (black text on white paper).
  • Write at a middle-school grade level.
  • Use underlines and bolded sentences to show donors the most important sentences.  Each emphasized phrase should be understandable without reading the whole letter in case the highlighted sentences are the only ones she has time to read.
  • Use a double-space after a period.  It will be slightly easier for her to separate your sentences.

Writing accessible appeal letters will help more of your appeals get read, and show your donor the incredible difference she can make for your beneficiaries.  But your donor won’t know the difference she can make if the appeal is written in small text she can’t read, or if it uses colors she can’t see clearly.

It’s little changes like this that will make your appeal letters accessible, and help you raise more money!

Three Questions to Get the Best Newsletter Stories

Questions and stories.

Want to write newsletter stories that show your donors the incredible impact they have had on your beneficiaries?

It’s easy, and I’m going to show you how.  But first you need to know one thing…

Most donors give because they want to make change.  They want the world to be noticeably different and better because of their gift. 

The best way to show donors the change that their gift made is to clearly demonstrate what the beneficiary’s life was like before and after the donor’s gift (and your organization) helped them.

Here are three questions you can ask a beneficiary that will give you everything you need to write a story that will make your donors feel amazing:

  1. What was your life like before <your organization/program/staff> helped you?
  2. What is your life like now because of the help you received?
  3. If you could say anything to thank donors who gave to support <your organization>, what would you tell them?

Ask these three questions and you’ll have a story that shows the change the donor’s gift help make.

By telling stories like this when you “report back” to your donors, you’ll build trust because your donors will see that their gifts cause change.  And because of that, they’ll be more likely to say “yes” the next time you ask for support in an appeal.

Three Ways to Thank Your Donors in less than Five Minutes


You may have heard January called “Thankuary”…

It’s the perfect time to let your donors know how truly special and valuable they are.  After countless emails, letters and phone calls (hopefully) towards the end of the year, January is a natural time to say “thank you.”

So, here are 3 ways you can thank your donors today… and they all take less than 5 minutes!!

1.  Call a donor, say “thank you” and listen — Donors love to be thanked; they also love the chance to share why they gave.  They’ll be surprised and delighted you took the time to reach out to them personally, even if they don’t pick up.

2.  Write a handwritten note — Sending a personal note, written by a human (even if it isn’t you!), goes a long way.  Mail it on personal stationery, or even in a hallmark card-sized envelope.  It can be short and sweet.  They won’t forget it.

BONUS TIP: Want to reach even more donors?  Have a “thank you card party” at the office and give everyone 10 cards and a short script! 

3.  Forward an already-planned mass email — Does your organization already have a thank you email planned for January?  Take a minute to forward that to a special donor right from your email before the main email goes out to everyone.  You could even share a little “before and after story” that made you think of them.

Every 5 minutes counts!  How many donors can you thank today?! 

PS — Need more ideas for Thankuary?  Use this Cheat Sheet (with examples) for how to run a great Thankuary campaign!

Upgrade your mid-level communications today using these 3 tips!


While we might wish that each of our communications could be perfectly personalized for each donor, this often isn’t the reality.

It can take way too much time. We often don’t have all the accurate data needed. And frankly, the donors don’t give at a level that warrants that kind of attention to detail… yet.

So, for this group of “mid-level” donors who aren’t quite in a gift officer’s portfolio, but give at a higher level than many of your annual or mass donors, here are three ways you can easily personalize your communications without taking too much time:

  1. A Cover Letter with personalized program or campaign information
    • Try sorting your mailing list by the last fund or campaign that your mid-level donors gave to. Group them by that fund or campaign and merge a sentence or two about that program into a personalized cover letter to accompany your communication.
  2. Post-it notes
    • Did you know you can print on post-it notes at your office? Add a personalized thank you to any generic letter for your donors. Depending on the size of your mailing list, you can type out each one in Excel and merge, or type directly into Word, letting your donor know how special they are. Here’s a link with step-by-step instructions!
  3. Send a hand-written thank you
    • Gather a couple staff members and have a half-hour “thank you card party” every week. Imagine: Thank You Thursdays! Prioritize your list of donations by amount, from high to low. For the donors you don’t have time to make a thank you call, send a short hand-written note. Be sure to include the personal contact information of the signee in case the donor would like to call you back!

Even if you try just one of these three tips in your next mailing, you are improving your donor’s experience by making them feel truly appreciated. The chances one of your mid-level donors upgrading to a major donor just increased!

How To Get the Most Out of Your Donor Thank You Calls

Thank you calls.

I think we all know that calling your donors to thank them is important, but in the back of our minds it goes something like this…

“I don’t have time,” and “how much does it really matter,” and “they never pick up,” and “wait, what if they do pick up?!”

If you are an annual gift officer looking for leads, or a major gifts officer building relationships, or even program staff hoping to spread the word about an event, here are some helpful steps you can take to make sure your donor thank you calls are worth your time:

  1. Do your research ahead of time — Spend 2 minutes in their donor record prior to the call. What you find could be crucial to your conversation.
    • When did they start giving? Previous board member? Where do they live? Which funds or campaign do they typically give to? Who do they have relationships with? Do they attend your events?
  2. Ask Discovery questions — Don’t waste your time as a fundraiser; if the donor answers the phone, use the opportunity to thank the donor and gather some discovery information. Here are my Top 5 Favorites:

    a. What inspired your gift?

    b. Do you have any personal connections to <insert your organization>’s employees, volunteers, or events?

    c. Can you tell me about your charitable giving? Are we in your top 3 charities?

    d. Is our organization in your will or estate plan?

    e. What’s the best way to contact you? Phone, email, mail?

  3. Send an email or thank you card — No one picked up the phone? Didn’t have time to call everyone? Send a personal thank you email with a discovery question.
    • You might be surprised who responds to your email AND shares discovery information with you. Even if you write a handwritten note to put in the mail, add your business card. You NEVER know when they might call you back.
  4. Take notes — Was their gift in memory of someone? Did they mention vacationing on their family yacht? Are their kids in high school? College? Are they retired?

If you don’t take a few minutes to call a donor to thank them, you’ll never know what you might be missing. You could be surprised at what you learn – once I had a donor notify me of a $100,000 estate gift during a thank you call!

Each donor will be grateful that you thanked them, and sometimes they might share a bit more than you expected. You will have deepened the relationship and increased your chance of another gift in the future!