A Dozen Year-End Fundraising Ideas
3. If you've read past columns, like May when we talked about targeting online activists in the mail or March when we profiled an organization having success converting online activists on the phones, you may have already tested some of these strategies in your own program. Year-end fundraising is ripe for rolling out those successes or tweaking for improved results. One caution: Long-time activists who have never donated are not often good prospects for mail or phone conversion.
4. Of course, in the last few years, online fundraising has played a larger role in driving last-minute gifts. So now is the time to build your activist/e-subscriber file so you have more people to talk to at year end. Paid acquisition sources like Change.org and Care2 serve many nonprofits well (test before investing too much!). Others have found success in appending e-mail addresses to their offline donor files. Utilizing your Google Grant is a great way to acquire names, and carefully targeted Facebook ads work for some, too. And, of course, you should be asking for e-mail in every communication — direct mail, telemarketing (inbound and outbound), on your homepage, etc.
5. Onboarding series (i.e., the first communications someone receives after joining your list) are great both for engaging new online constituents ahead of year end and for driving immediate donations. The first few e-mails (and potentially telemarketing call, mail piece or other contact points) have a higher open/engagement rate than any others you ever send outside of emergencies. The onboarding series might include an e-mail survey (landing on a donation page), an evergreen action online (also landing on a donation page), an e-newsletter (potentially customized based on a person's geography or preferences), direct e-appeals, direct-mail appeals, telemarketing effort, etc.
6. E-mail has certainly evolved as the channel of choice in the last weeks of the year. With e-mail frequency, timing and cadence all evolving, anyone with an e-mail address knows that the last week of the year is popular for sends and resends. 501(c)3s often have a natural urgency — "make a gift by midnight on the 31st and get your 2012 tax deduction." But that doesn't mean others can't take advantage of this natural deadline. Consider starting with a few year-end fundraisers mixed with cultivation e-mails earlier in December before ramping up in the last week. As for integration, how about using a common theme across channels and setting a single fundraising goal for mail, website, e-mail, etc.?