How do you get your donor to upgrade?

If you take a page from St. Joseph’s Indian School below, here’s how you get donors to upgrade.

  • You thank them.
  • You show lots of pictures of smiling children, the people they have helped.
  • You give them one or two reply devices
  • You give concrete reasons to give towards big things, and what the money will be used for.  (see the brochure below)
  • You show that you need both small and big things for the children in your care.
  • You give real donor quotes and tailor them to the audience- Maybe they are child-free, or maybe they are religious. You write to them hoping to speak to their values.

Look at what St. Joseph’s Indian School did in their year end appeal to my great aunt last year.

She sent them $10. They thanked her for this gift, mentioned the amount and then talked in language that they hoped would resonate with her, religious language, and language that honored soldiers serving overseas, for some reason.

They wrote,

“Dear Patricia,

The Lakota children are very thankful for your help as they experience the wonder and joy of the holiday season. Merry Christmas and thank you for your generous gift of $10.00.

Fr many of our students, celebrating the birth of Jesus and all the festivities of the Christmas season will be a new experience. May the Lord bless you for helping each child enjoy all the magic and love of this this joyful holiday offers.

Patricia, wolla tanka, – many thanks -for being part of our theopaye – extended family. Together, we are making a real difference in the lives of the Lakota Sioux youngsters!

As you open your heart to the children, I pray you know what a special friend you are to each Lakota child. The children, staff, priests and brothers remember you in our daily prayers and at Mass. May the new year bring peace and safe return of our loved ones serving in the armed forces.

God Bless,



PS. You can make a positive difference in the lives of Lakota children by joining our Tiyospaye Club with your monthly gift! Visit stof.org/tyoi or call 1-800-762-2162.

On the back it has a reply device that gives the donor options to donate by credit card monthly or one time. Then it has a list of checkboxes that say:

  • “Please pray for my intentions.”
  • “I would like to receive a free copy of the Lakota Life Brochure and a yearly newsletter”
  • “I have remembered St. Joseph’s in my will.”
  • “I am considering St. Joseph’s in my will. Please send your legal title and free will kit.”
  • “Please send a free, personalized proposal for a charitable gift annuity.”

and a Daily Needs List which reads, in part:

Beach Towels

Bath Towels



Hydrocortisone Cream

3/8″ Ace Wraps

Cough Drops



What else did they enclose?

a reply device that says “Pilamaya, that’s Lakota for Thank you!”


A bookmark with pictures of the children and “Father Steve”


The back of the bookmark says “Christ Tunpi -Merry Christmas – from Fr. Steve and the Lakota Boys and Girls!”


The quote says, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon His shoulders; and He is named Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6.

They also enclosed a brochure that explained what they could use the donations for, a reply device, and included the pictures of people who would be answering the phones and helping answer donor questions.

The brochure asks, “Can you help the Lakota children before the year ends?”


Their donor quotes are compelling: “It’s an honor to help your wonderful work” F. Rasmus -Pennsylvania   “We don’t have children of our own so we adopted the Lakota children as our family”. R& K Placek -New York


Some examples of things that the donations could help children have?

  • College scholarships: St. Joseph’s provides over $100,000 in scholarships each year for Native American students pursuing their higher education dreams!
  • New Student Desks $15,000 is needed to replace student desks in our school.
  • Handicapped Door at the Sacred Hoop Tiyospaye Center. The Sacred Hoop Tiyospaye Center is a place for families to spend time together.  To ensure access for everyone, a new handicapped door is needed for the entrance and will cost $4,400.
  • Replacement Vehicles for St. Joseph’s homes: Transporting up to 12 students in each of our 19 group homes ends up being a lot of wear and tear on our vehicles. To ensure safe travel for the Lakota children, $50,000 is needed to replace the vehicles.
  • Mobile School Lab: $16,000 is needed for a 15-unit mobile computer lab for our students in grades 1-4, whcih will provide access to technology in numerous classes.


They include not one but TWO reply devices and show pictures of people who will be answering the phone and happy to chat with you about where your gift is going. It’s a personal touch that not many nonprofits do. And I’ll bet it helps more donors give to you.


What do you think of this appeal ? If you’re a child-welfare nonprofit or a faith based nonprofit, does this give you ideas for how to get more donations or higher donations through your year end appeal ?

Want 43+ more tips on how to write successful appeal letters? Just go here!