A Comprehensive Guide to Your Year-End Drive, Part 2
How much is the year-end goal that are you raising? Also, what percentage of those funds are part of your whole budget? State these facts as a way to inform the donor about how their gift fits into the whole.
I offer you this phrase to replicate:
“You are one of X people who we are appealing to — that’s how important you are to reaching our $XXX,000 goal, and we only have until December 31 to make sure you receive this year’s tax deduction. The $XXX,000 is one part of our $X,XXX,XXX annual budget, and it’s a significant part. These funds we will be used to accomplish X, Y, Z.”
Avoid Generic Salutations
Many organizations broadcast “Dear Friend” mailings to thousands of people — a “one-size-fits-all” appeal to a broad audience. Today, with prospect identification software and market segmentation strategies, you can dice that audience into many sub-audiences, giving you the ability to custom-tailor the appeals and to make those appeals highly personal. This is a standard process for mail houses, but if you’re doing the mailing in-house, you must mail merge the letter and the list. Personalization more than pays for itself.
State Past Giving Amounts
Customize your appeal letter so that it states the exact giving history of that particular donor. Very few nonprofits do this, but it’s very powerful for a donor to know their total giving amount for the year or, in the case of major donors, the cumulative amount going back to their first gift. People are very moved when they see those numbers, because it shows the extent of their generosity. That’s our job as fundraisers: to mirror back to the donor how generous they have been and express our deep gratitude.
If you’ve done your cultivation work well, your donors care about your cause and understand the central role that your organization plays in your community. They don’t have to be convinced. They are “value-aligned” with your organization and will enjoy receiving detailed letters about your work, because they already identify with your cause.
Ask for Increased Gifts
We fundraisers call this moves management, and it’s essential to your year-end drive. If the donor’s last gift on record is $50, the appeal should request for renewal at $100. Your can insert an automatic algorithm for calculating this increase, or you can do it manually in-house. It often reads:
“Your last highest gift of record was $50. Thank you again for your generosity. We used that gift for our after school program. Would you consider a renewed gift of $100 at this time? We’d appreciate that, and, of course, we’re asking on behalf of those students who need the extra support. Be assured, though, that all you give is welcomed, no matter the amount. It’s celebrated and appreciated.”
Mail your appeal letter in large envelopes, 8.5” x 11” or 5.5” x 8.5,” and make them a color other than white (a pastel color preferably). You will get a higher open rate, and it’s worth the extra cost of postage. You should not use larger envelopes to solicit new donors unless they have been researched as having a high capacity to give. Rather you would use this investment to advance an established donor and let them know they are important to you.
Integration of Direct Mail and Email
It is a best practice to send an email appeal four to five days after the direct mail appeal has gone out. This assures that donors receive both pieces in close proximity to one another, reinforcing your message and increasing the chance that your appeal gets an open or response. This is a “multichannel” donor communication strategy, which utilizes both direct mail and email. Your email appeal can be practically identical to the direct mail appeal, with the only substantive difference being that the email appeal offers an option to donate online.
Monthly Giving Option
Your year-end drive should offer a monthly giving option. Monthly giving increased by 17% last year and represents 16% of all online revenue. This giving option should be geared for those donors who give from $1 to $999 — your “bread and butter” donors.
Text a 'Thank You'
Thank-you texts should also be sent the day before Thanksgiving. There are automated services that are affordable that will do this for you. Ask your social media technician or mail house for a recommendation of which service to use. Here’s a short and sweet sample text that we used recently, and it created a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings, plus a few “remove me” messages:
“Happy Thanksgiving. This is Laurence from the Great Humane Society. Today, I give thanks to you and the support you've given our pets and their adopted families. Have a great holiday, and think of us in your year-end giving.”
Thank-you letters and emails must be sent within 48 hours of receiving a gift. No exceptions. With online giving, the thank-you can be automated to send as soon as the gift is made. Surveys support the fact that donors notice when a gift is recognized that fast. It means you’re on top of your relationship with them, and they feel good about associating with you.
Donor Data Hygiene
A modern donor database is an essential tool for tracking all kinds of relevant information, from dates of birth, multiple addresses and the donor’s preference for how he or she wants to hear from you. Without a well-maintained database, though, targeting lapsed donors and engaging in the kind of segmentation needed is almost impossible. Thankfully, there are many solutions readily available even to the most economically-challenged nonprofits.
Bloomerang is a great resource for many nonprofits looking to track constituents, partners, donors, donations, activities, volunteers and cases. Salesforce is free to nonprofits for up to 10 users, but it’s not an easy interface. To quote Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Good date hygiene allows you to measure the performance of your donor giving and adjust accordingly.
Read part one of the series here. And stay tuned for part three.