Steps for Choosing Names for Your Fund Appeal, Part Three

Farmers Market stamps 750x380

My husband reminds me often: K.I.S.S.  He means, “Keep It Simple, Schmitt.” I have K.I.S.S. in mind as I write today because I DO get very detailed. I’m sure you noticed by now the initial post has turned into a series of three long ones. In part one of this series, I shared some ideas and thoughts on using social media, databases, blogs / websites, and emails for fund appeals. In part two, I shared a timeline for an end-of-year ask and now I’ll focus on choosing names.

As I said, I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I hope you’ll consider some ideas for your appeals in order to be more focused in who you ask. Find at least one thing you can do for your current appeal under one of the following headings.

Start Tracking Appeals

If you’ve never tracked your appeals before, learn how here and start with this appeal. By identifying each appeal, you’ll have very useful information over time. You’ll know who you’ve asked, who’s responded, and to which appeals.

I don’t recommend losing focus right now by adding old data while trying to get your appeal in the mail.  Plan to add some past fund appeal data before your next appeal, though… Get trackin’!

Setting up Appeal Asks in TntMPD

Let’s think like a geek for a minute. For the final decision for your mailing, use one of the user fields under the User tab. One donor can be a member of many groups but can only have one value in a user field. You don’t want to accidentally send two different mailings to one person. Therefore, the best way to put people into a fund appeal category is to use one of the four user fields. One of my user fields is called Temporary which I’ll use for the fund appeal (and can use for something else later). I recommend you use this name, too (you’ll see why in my December 1st post).

Steps for Choosing Names for Your Fund Appeal

Follow these directions carefully. I may say “is,” “is at least,” etc. for proper filtering in the Lookups. Give this a try; you won’t hurt anything by learning this. I’ll bold the important phrases.

  1. Do a Lookup / By Field / MPD Phase is at most Expired Referral and check “sort by this field” (learn about lookups). Your entire list is now in MPD phase order. Take the time to confirm the accuracy of the MPD phase field: have the MPD tab open and go through your list, changing the MPD phase where needed.
  2. Now, do a Lookup / By Field / MPD Phase is at least “not interested.” The names returned after you hit “OK” will be expired referrals, unresponsive, never ask, etc.
  3. Do a Lookup / By Field / MPD Phase is less than PARTNER-Financial and check “Add to the current group“.  Together, this is a combined lookup of all the people you will not challenge in your fund appeal.
  4. Resist the temptation to look over your names until we’re done. You’re filtering now; you’ll be able to make final decisions later.
  5. Click on Group Action / Mass Change a Field. Select your User field, Temporary. Set field to “no.”
  6. If you haven’t used the Never Ask field, check this box on all people in TntMPD that you know this is true.
  7. Do a Lookup / By Field / Never Ask is “true.” Repeat Step 5.
  8. Do a Lookup / By Field / Temporary is blank (no value).
  9. Click on Group Action / Mass Change a Field. Select your User field, Temporary. Change the Temporary value to “yes.” Everyone is now either “no” or “yes” in this field.
Fine Tune Your Fund Appeal

Repeat Step 8, but with a value of “no.” Take 15 minutes or so to look at people in the “no” category to see if you agree. You definitely can override any filtering decisions. For specific people, go to the User tab and change the Temporary value to “yes.”

Repeat Step 8, but with a value of “yes.” Again, you’ll go to the User tab and change the Temporary value to “no” if you know it’s not a good time to challenge people who:

  • have given a special gift in the last 4 months,
  • have joined your team in the last 4 months,
  • have increased in the last 3 months,
  • you plan to challenge to increase or to join your team in the next 4 months,
  • have asked you not to send special gift asks,
  • had a recent death in the family,
  • et cetera

(Do take time to review these guidelines from the StaffWeb on this page.) Go through every name, of course. Check social media, if needed, to find out your donors’ news.

I’ve reduced my list from 647 to 138. How ’bout you? If you’re like me, you may already have a history of fund appeal responses, so I’ll also be checking the appeal history of my 138 to see whether they generally respond to an end-of-year ask. If they only respond to medical needs, for instance, I’ll mark them as “no” in the Temporary field.

I recommend one more set of steps to make sure everyone will get your fund appeal via snail mail.

  1. Do a Lookup / By Field / Temporary is “yes.”
  2. Do a Lookup / By Field / Newsletter Media Preference is at most “Paper and EMail” and check “sort by this field” and check “Lookup within the current group.”
  3. If you normally send an email prayer letter to certain financial partners, they will appear in the top of this list. Change their Newsletter Media Preference to “Paper” and make a task to switch their preference back to “Email” after Christmas so they receive both a fund appeal and your Christmas card in the mail. Before your next prayer letter, switch them back to their email preference.

Your Temporary field has either “no” or “yes” now. Use this field to pull names and addresses for printing your envelopes and merging your greetings for appeal letters. (See Mail Merge guide.)

For those of you who’ve been recording appeals already, but don’t have groups yet, I’ll write early next year about how to make groups from the Special Gift Appeal Tracking report in order to follow fund appeal responses. Let’s Keep It Simple for now.

Bonus Tips for MailChimp Users

  • Do a TntMPD sync with MailChimp, and then compare your Temporary field with your donor’s MailChimp rating. If they have a rating of 4 or 5 and a Temporary field marked “no,” consider switching them to “yes.” They’re reading most things you’re sending out.
  • Send your fund appeal out by paper. I’ll write a post on December 2nd how you can use MailChimp to send out a reminder email later in December.

You’re amazing to make it this far! I won’t forget you. I’ll help you in January with tracking fund appeal responses in TntMPD. Just start tracking and we’ll pick this subject back up next year.

Have you taken the time to be more specific in your fund appeals? 


  • The Farmers Markets stamp design is by Cru alum, Greg Breeding. It’s a great stamp for a November letter. Find it at the store at
  • You might want to read this post: Lookups and Groups in TntMPD.
  • It’s often easier to do “Group Actions” instead of doing activity per contact. Learn to use “Schedule Group Task,”  “Log Group History” and “Mass Change a Field.”
  • Again, I had no time to look at MPDx and how these ideas might fit there. Many things will. Please add your comments about MPDx to help our readers.
  • We always challenge our financial partners for a special gift or for an increase, plus everyone gets something, so every person on our list now has “no,” “prayer letter,” “special” or “increase” in the Temporary field. Additionally, they may receive an email prayer letter. Read the TntMPD section of part one to learn what I do, but K.I.S.S.
  • The End-of-Year Fund Appeal Series:

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