Add Surprise and Delight to Your Appeals. Like This One.


I want to share with you my very favorite fundraising appeal that I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s charming, readable, and unusual. (click here to read the entire appeal letter.)

Next time you are stuck for creative ideas, consider heading out of the box with something totally innovative – and whimsical.

This is an appeal that John Lepp and Agents of Good created for the Toronto Second Harvest food bank.

(You can follow Agents of Good on twitter at @agentsofgood and their excellent blog at

The appeal features a food truck going around to collect food for the hungry in the community. And it’s talking!

Here’s what the truck says:

“You can help Second Harvest buy me! I’m a shiny new truck and I want to rescue food that would otherwise go to waste and deliver it to hungry people!”

Did it work?

Agents of Good said that this appeal generated twice as much as last spring’s appeal. And the average gift was up 40%.

Who says that your presentation doesn’t matter?

Here are five reasons this appeal works so very well:

1. The outside envelope has a great teaser.

The outside envelope features a charming truck.

The cute, charming truck is on the outside envelope.

And it says “beep, beep!”

Of course you want to open it!

2.The truck is doing the talking in the appeal.

The appeal is “from” the truck: “Please help buy me so I can deliver food to hungry people.”

How can you say “no” to such a nice request!

3. All gifts from donors in this appeal get matched.

Studies show that donors will give more if they know their gift will be matched.

Everybody likes it when they get more bang for their buck.

And it worked in this case!

3. The donor gets engaged and involved.

The donor gets a sticker (that looks like keys to the truck), and can move it to the reply card.

This gives the donor something to do.

When the donor takes physical action, you are able to connect more deeply with her.

4. The reply card is terrific.

The title of the reply card says: “Yes, truck, I’ll help buy you for Second Harvest!”

This makes the donor feel great.

And we all want to feel good, don’t we?

5. The request is for something very specific.

Donors are asked to help buy a truck.

They are not asked to help “unmet needs.” They are not asked to support generic “programs and services.”

Post-recession donors are looking for specific impact.

When you are up against the wall searching for creative ideas for your next appeal, why not try something out of the box. Something creative. Something unusual. Something fun.

I bet you’ll raise more money!

Leave a comment and tell me what you think!