Get in the Spirit: 5 Best Practices for a Fruitful Year-End Fundraising Campaign
Once the leaves begin changing colors, we know that we’re entering the fall season, which also means we’re at the cusp of the most exciting—and generous—time of the year. The holiday season is kicked off with the most playful of them all: Halloween, where children, and adults alike, engage in ghoulish activities.
Then, we trickle off to Thanksgiving, where the real season of giving begins, followed by Christmas and a dawn of the new year. While this time of the year is a great opportunity for retailers to bring in year-end sales, it’s a better time for nonprofits to kick off their year-end fundraising campaigns. Because of the uplifting spirit of the holidays, people are more willing to give—not typically for tax purposes—but because it makes them feel good about themselves to give back to those in need. According to Bloomerang, nonprofits receive approximately 50 percent of their annual donations between October and December, so it’s no wonder why nonprofits are taking their year-end campaigns very seriously. I mean, every nonprofit should!
NonProfit PRO spoke to Linda Tantawi, CEO of Susan G. Komen’s Greater NYC Chapter, who gave us valuable insight on some key strategies to add to your repertoire. So, without further ado, here are five best practices for a booming year-end fundraising campaign.
1. Look at Donor Data
In today’s digital landscape and with all the innovative technologies at our fingertips, nonprofits are able to look at their analytics and see who their donors are and how, what, and when they are donating. It’s perhaps one of the greatest advances of our time. By analyzing the data, you (or your tech person) are able to pick up trends and set up your campaign for success based on what the data is telling you.
Tantawi: We’re very sensitive to ensure that we are watching the data that our email shows. We watch for unsubscribes and for opens.
Organizations really need to look at their data from the previous year to show what worked. With email and direct marketing, it’s not based on people’s opinions; it’s based on what the data has shown year after year.
2. Take Advantage of #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday is a great way for nonprofits to ease their way into year-end fundraising—especially if they’ve never launched a year-endfundraising campaign before. And if they have, then #GivingTuesday is a great starter for the season.
In 2015, funds raised from #GivingTuesday amounted to over $116 million, according to the “2015 #GivingTuesday Impact Report.” That number rose to $168 million in 2016. In the “Charitable Giving Report: How Nonprofit Fundraising Performed in 2016,” Blackbaud processed over $47.7 million in U.S. online donations from #GivingTuesday—a 20 percent increase from 2015.
Tantawi: What we do is we start with #GivingTuesday to kick off the season. I think every charity has their own relationship to#GivingTuesday.
3. Remind Them to Give
With the hustle and bustle of donors’ daily lives and everything that needs to get done during the holidays, it’s common for donors to forget about giving to charity. Sending donors a friendly reminder to donate let’s them know you’re thinking about them and gives them just the nudge they need to donate.
Tantawi: People do forget and need to be reminded. We ensure that we send an email a day the last week of the year to ensure that people who want to give are reminded to give and have the chance.
4. Stick With What You Know Works
Like the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If your organization has been very successful with a certain strategy, stick with it, because chances are, your donors like it.
Tantawi: We do online—Facebook advertising and email—then we segment our email lists based on who they are. Did they give last year? Did they not give at year-end?Are they race participants or donors? We want to make sure that we’re really segmenting our lists and do targeted Facebook ads.
My opinion is that everything has changed, but nothing has changed. So, if you had success with direct marketing, then you’ll continue to have success with direct marketing. Our HQ is very successful withdirect marketing, but this branch has not been. Our conversion rates have not been as good in direct mail, but technology has changed the way people relate to charities because of social media. We spend a lot of time on social media on building our audiences and
building people’s engagement and affinity for the organization.
5. Stand Out From the Crowd
We’ve heard this statistic many times… over and over again: There are over 1.5 million charitable organizations in the U.S. When you’re trying to raise money for a cause, you’re competing with an astronomical pool of other organizations. In order to launch a successful campaign, you have to make sure your organization stands out from the crowd.
Tantawi: I think the challenge is how are you separating yourself from others when everyone is competing for the same dollar. You do have to make sure you have a strategy that is right for you. I like to think that there is enough money for all of us, but you just have to figure out how to get it. It’s really about having persistence, looking at what the data is showing you and not just doing what you think and what you feel.