Tips for End-of-Year Campaign Success
End-of-year campaigns are so important for nonprofit organizations because they allow them to capitalize on the uptick in giving that occurs in November and December. Between 35 percent to 42 percent of online giving happens in November and December each year, and the average gift during the final quarter of the year is significantly higher — $84.51, compared to the average of $67.47 for the other three quarters.
This according to Convio, which presented the webinar "Plan Smart: Don't Leave Your End of Year Campaigns to Chance" in July. Presenters Rachel Ahrens, interactive consultant for Convio, and Abby Sandlin, senior consultant for Charity Dynamics, reviewed types of successful end-of-year e-mails and detailed steps organizations can take to help with end-of-year campaigns.
The presenters shared an example of a year-end campaign done by the ALS Association last year. It was the organization's first time doing a coordinated, multiphased year-end online appeal. The majority of the organization's income comes during its special-event season, and it used the year-end appeal to offer an additional window for donations, timed with year-end direct-mail appeals.
The three-part e-mail series consisted of a "holiday support" e-mail sent on Dec. 23, 2008; an e-mail stressing tax-deductible opportunities sent on Dec. 29, 2008; and a final tax-deductible push sent on Dec. 31, 2008.
The campaign resulted in a 47 percent increase in the amount raised online in December 2008 over December 2007, and a 109 percent increase in total income raised year over year. What's more, the presenters said the success primed the organization for a strong January start. It hopes to explore starting the campaign earlier in the month to capture momentum earlier.
Year-end e-mail opportunities organizations can take advantage of in their messaging are:
- Standard holiday donations. Seek additional gifts from current donors and annual gifts from prior-year and non-donors.
- Accomplishments. Recap prior year accomplishments, set the tone for the challenges of the coming year and secure financial support to maintain momentum.
It's also a great time to position your ask in terms of the opportunities that giving affords donors, including:
- Holiday e-cards with a donation. E-card offers are an opportunity for incremental gifts from current donors and offer constituents a service in exchange for their gifts.
- Gift giving. This provides tangible and intangible benefits for holiday giving and the opportunity for add-on gifts from current donors. Gift memberships are great last-minute gifts that can help build a membership file. And you can suggest donors "avoid the malls and shop at home" on your e-commerce site, where they can find mission-focused gifts. It's a way to engage new audiences in your organization's mission.
- Tax deductible. Secure last-minute, year-end donations with tax deadlines.
- Special-giving program. These should be deadline-driven. Matching-gift/challenge programs provide built-in goals with deadlines and tap into year-end deadline momentum.
The presenters also offered these six best practices to gear up your end-of-year campaigns. Some are for much earlier in the year, so save them as a reference for 2010 planning: