How To Use Healthy Data for Effective Year-End Appeals
The second half of the year has officially started, and it’s time to start thinking about your end-of-year campaign. The season of giving is powerful and creates exposure for your organization. Even during the pandemic, the Blackbaud Institute’s "Charitable Giving Report" confirmed that the fourth quarter continued to dominate the year for charitable giving, representing 36% of giving in 2020. This statistic holds strong from year-to-year, so taking advantage of the season is essential. Let’s get started on your end-of-year campaign.
Get Your Database Ready
Your database is the most important tool for an effective end-of-year campaign. Now is the time to ensure this powerful tool is working for you. There are a series of best practice techniques that are considered “table stakes” for nonprofits. In other words, these are the processes to have in place to take full advantage of your data. Successful organizations use a data append services to amend outdated addresses, suppress deceased contacts, remove
duplicates, and more.
Segment Your Donors
The average nonprofit is missing out on millions of dollars in untapped giving potential. That is a result of a combination of under-asking for annual gifts and major gifts. Segmentation and analytics can help you fully dial into donor potential.
Even simple, do-it-yourself segmentation using existing tools at your disposal can have a great impact. Start with dividing your supporters into categories, such as new, existing and lapsed donors. Then further develop appeals with messages that will resonate with each category. No one donor is alike and treating them as such will lessen the return on your efforts.
Go even further with this effort by using wealth screening. Finding wealth and asset information drives the ability to tailor asks so that you know you are not asking too much — or too little — of your constituents.
Over the course of the last decade, predictive analytics has surpassed traditional wealth screening techniques for major gift fundraising professionals. The ability to rank, score and segment thousands of prospects within hours — not months or weeks — provides strategic advantages. Predictive modeling integrates transactional giving data with large amounts of donor profile information and then predicts, with accuracy, what actions donors are most likely to take in the future.
Create an Effective Appeal
An end-of-year appeal can be developed many ways, but taking advantage of your data to personalize your messaging will generate return on investment by enhancing your supporters’ connection to your cause. Here are few techniques to start with:
Personalization. Simple additions, such as the donor’s name, last donation date and the amount of their last gift, can have lasting impact. Personalization is a must for all major gift solicitations. This information is within your walls; don’t be afraid to use it.
- Delivery. Your message should be vibrant and concise. Use simple verbiage and keep statistics to a minimum. Statistics are great motivators but can also change the tone of voice and make your appeal feel less personal. Readers need to understand your message to be able to connect to it. A confused donor will disregard an appeal, resulting in lost potential.
- Imagery. People naturally look at pictures before reading text. Capitalize on this by using images that invoke feelings of empathy and joy to tell your story and tap into your donors’ emotions. Comparative pictures (before and after) work well to achieve this.
- Donor Impact. Engage your supporters by showing and telling them how you are utilizing their donations. Focusing on donor impact creates a sense of ownership. Add increments to the end of your appeal because dollar amounts, connected to a tangible impact, guide the donors’ understanding of what they can influence.
According to the Charitable Giving Report, 13% of giving in 2020 came from online sources. Provide a low barrier for entry for donors by ensuring your donation button or page is highly visible and prominent on your website. Include giving options, such as recurring gifts, so donors have the choice to give again automatically. Some organizations even choose to make recurring giving the default giving option.
Measuring the metrics of your end-of-year campaign, with healthy data, is vital to the insight of your campaign’s success and helps you identify possible areas for improvement.
- Return on Investment. Measure how much revenue the campaign netted for your organization. Add up your expenses from the campaign and subtract it from your raised amount.
- Campaign Conversion Rate. Measure the percentage of total people that donated versus ones that received the appeal and did not. Take the amount of people that you emailed in your campaign, and determine how many clicked on the link and donated.
- Donor Retention Rate. Measure the percentage of donors that were retained since last year’s end-of-year campaign. Take the number of donors that gave to your end-of-year campaign last year and divide it by the number that gave this year. Then multiply that by 100.
- Year-Over-Year Giving. Measure the raised amount of this year’s campaign against other end-of-year campaigns. Take the variance between two years, divide that by the earlier year and multiply it by 100.
- Growth Rate. Measure if your results from your campaign are increasing, decreasing or are flat. Calculate the year-over-year giving numbers and compare to see if your organization is growing in donor size.
- Average Gift Amount. Identify your average gift size from your end-of-year campaign. Divide the number of gifts into the total amount given.
Year-end appeals are worth every bit of the effort, effectively increasing
revenue and creating lasting impact. Good luck during the 2021 season of giving!
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the July/August 2021 print edition of NonProfit PRO as “A Quick-Start Guide for Effective Campaigns.” Click here to subscribe.
Tanya Fitzgerald, CFRE, is a senior marketing manager at Blackbaud, previously having served as a customer success manager for Blackbaud Arts & Cultural Solutions. Prior to joining Blackbaud, she was the board & special projects manager for the South Carolina Aquarium focusing on major gifts and fundraising events while managing the board of directors and junior board. Previously, Tanya was involved with Louie’s Kids for six years, a nonprofit that focuses on childhood obesity and family wellness, as a board member and volunteer managing their fundraising efforts. Currently, she is involved with the Charleston Animal Society’s fundraising events and is a member of their Board of Directors philanthropy committee. Tanya enjoys giving back and sharing her non-profit knowledge helping Blackbaud customers succeed.