10 Winning Strategies for Your Year-End Fundraising Success
For most nonprofits, the year-end fundraising season almost always appears suddenly on your calendar. The kids are back in school, the leaves are changing and frost is now appearing daily on your windshields. You can almost feel it in the air that it’s time to start thinking and planning for your winning strategies for your year-end fundraising campaigns. Planning all of your marketing milestones on a calendar is a good idea to help you visualize all of the steps needed.
You’ll need to start calling on your copywriters, consultants, graphic designers and your printers now to begin gathering new and improved year-end ideas on how best to solicit significant donations, matching gifts, peer-to-peer fundraising, as well as stewardship needs for your campaign. Direct mail marketing, email and mobile, as well as on-site giving tools, don’t magically appear on their own; you need to get cracking on your messaging tools now.
- Brainstorming with your team(s) now will give you a heads up later when all of the components from your fundraising web all starts to come together and it’s out the door in the mail, in their email portals, as well as in their heads and wallets for your year-end fundraising needs. Putting together a calendar of events and responsibilities that includes every touch-point and step needed for your campaign. Even work backward from your drop-dead date will help you better visualize all of the steps needed to accomplish your year-end
- Data silo collection. Which of your lists will be used for the control, new package test for your email and end of year campaign tests? Which should you lead to your mailing? Are you going to offer a recap of your year-long success’s or focus on just one aspect of your robust success from one or more efforts? Your data selection is key to your year-end solicitations. Make sure your data is updated and current with all of the most available information about your donors, giving patterns and age groups. Breaking down your data into their proper silo’s will best serve your campaign needs.
- What is your year-end appeal story? What will you share with your donors? What compelling story and images will best appeal to your mid-range and general fund donors? Will it be different than your Test package efforts? How will you address and appeal to your lapsed donors? Your appeal needs to show empathy, offer a compelling image that is tied to your mission statement or explains how your mission helped or established a need food bank or helped collect blankets, tents, canned foods for homeless encampments. Images and copy that develop empathy with their donors will win out big time in your year-end donor objectives.
- Many channels, same mission statement. While you are developing your copy, images, tone and messaging, you need to be thinking about how each of your donor channels will be consistent with one message. What does your nonprofit do best? Who do you best serve as your primary recipient of your mission statement? Offer opportunities for your donors to choose which channel suits both their needs, your donation levels, as well as the strength of the donor's commitment to your organization.
- Website re-design or optimization as one of your strongest donor channels. Re-thinking or re-tooling your website might take some needed time out of your tight schedule of events. Maybe postpone it for a later time or merely tweak it to maximize usage, while limiting the amount of time and money needed to make the site fully organized to achieve the greatest results. Again, your data results will tell you whether this channel is where your main push should go in your year-end appeal.
- Are your channels of communication integrated? Every one of your donor communication channels needs to be immersed in your core mission statement, as well as be linked to each other in some fashion. Reaching out via phone should also be added to your database to note on their profiles—that they were approached in this manner and not to contacted by any other of your channels, unless your database suggests multiple channels are approved by your donor(s). An integrated approach will offer substantial re-enforcement of your message and provide alternate options for your donors to respond positively to your appeal(s).
- The year-end appeal should be announced to your donor base, as this is their last chance to make a difference in helping someone or something of your mission statement. This will offer your donors the final chance this year to give and become a bigger part of themselves to your organizations. Sending out your final email to your electronic donors first will offer them a longer window with which to respond to your offerings. Your direct mailings need to be in the mail at least by Dec. 18 to reach your donor base in time for you to capture and deposit their donations before the banks shut down for the holidays. Ensure that all of the available channels open to you will be used for this end of the year appeal, including your lapsed donors.
- Thanking to your donors should be your No. 1 priority when the checks are cashed and your accountant has verified and closed your books for the year. Your team of thank-you card writers should be marked on your “To-Do” list or calendar to ensure these simple thank-you notes are not forgotten in the Christmas holiday rush. This thanking process should always be carried out throughout the year and not just at this final hour. Ensure that you let your donors know how important they are to your works and how their partnership is truly valued by you and your organization, expecially to those who you help throughout the year.
- Just because you seem to have covered all of the bases for this final year-end appeal, you should not forget planning for your first quarter of next year’s donation schedules. Establish and nurture the donors you gained from the year-end appeal and begin to lay the foundation to have them continue to shift into general fund donors and not just for a specific or just once a year giving pattern. You want them to feel the need to give to your organization at every offer available to them, especially one that has been tested as the best method to reach out and connect with these donors each and every mailing cycle.
- Don’t ignore matching gifts, special gift requests or having your donors leave their estates to your organization, should they wish to continue their legacy with your mission statement. Now is the time to offer these unique brand of donors the chance and opportunity to offer their estates to your group, based on the good deeds that your organization does for the community you best serve. Ways to give charts, special newsletters or even premiums can be offered to especially entice this special donor segment to further entrust their wealth with you. It should not be taken likely. The more ways that you inform your donors of the ways that best serves their own needs and ability, the higher your donation levels rise.
I hope that I have offered your organization some useful tips for developing winning strategies for your year-end appeals. Your year-end campaign is an excellent forum to promote your mission statement in the best light to promote donor stewardship, foster stronger and deepen relationships that will last far beyond the end of the year. Remember to use all channels available to your group, heartily thank your donors throughout the years and don’t forget to highlight true success in your organization.