How Can You Boost Year-End Giving? Part 2
Can you believe the final quarter of the calendar year is here? For everyone in the nonprofit universe, it is go-time for year-end giving! The pace of work is faster and the urgency to succeed is greater. For my organization, The Salvation Army, the last three months are filled with operations that require implementation. The honest fact is I have been working on end-of-year giving since June. I am blessed to be part of an excellent team that is focused on every facet of the fundraising continuum. In some ways, the longer you work with one nonprofit, the easier it is in the sense of what to expect during the various cycles of the year. In fact, I wonder how many of you have time to even read this article?
Charity Navigator, the largest independent charity evaluator in the country, found that nearly a quarter of Americans, particularly high net worth families, report making their charitable gifts during the last quarter of the year, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday spirit plus the knowledge of tax-year giving, stimulates charitable intentions. Many nonprofits increase their quantity of solicitations at this time of year as they understand their operational budget success depends upon end-of-year giving achievement. Organizations and donors are prepared for this calendar-related activity.
Using technology to your advantage is very important as we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID pandemic. We all have tried new ways to engage prospects and donors both in person, through social media and virtually. A Cornershop Creative blog provided four fundraising tech tips for the 2021 year-end giving season. They include:
- Cover all your tech bases by having the correct software and social media tools.
- Offer engaging and stimulating online experiences by improving your website and providing easy ways for donors to give online. Also, implement a system to gather data on donors.
- Pay special attention to your in-person, hybrid and virtual events. Seek to communicate with participants throughout the event.
- Offer donors ways to stay engaged and stimulate them through, for example, a matching-gift initiative. Make sure you focus on donor retention plus donor acquisition.
Effective appeals steward donors and solicit contributions. You need to create a year-end solicitation schedule with specific target formats in mind. One must evaluate data gained from prior years’ campaigns. Take a multichannel appeal approach using mail, email and social media. Target personalization of the donor in your appeals. Make your fundraising stories emotional and personal. Seek donors to provide targeted matching gift appeals. Get your volunteer board involved by having them thank donors, connecting with major donors and promoting your organization through their personal channels of influence. Make it as easy as possible for a prospect to make a gift to your nonprofit.
Many nonprofits use a large percentage of their resources to meet annual fundraising goals in the last quarter. The most important element concerning year-end giving is the creation of a sound plan and goal. Use the SMART principles approach (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely).
- Seek to utilize Giving Tuesday to jumpstart your end-of-year giving program.
- Incorporate an event to kick off the season.
- Determine a multipurpose strategy that involves storytelling, priority setting, volunteers, corporate partnerships and social media elements.
- Promote your brand with your appeals.
- Strive to market and publicly promote your organization along with asking for donations.
Year-end giving is a great opportunity for nonprofits to meet their fundraising goals. To achieve ultimate success in this endeavor, you must plan early, review 2020 campaign data, see where you are financially, set financial goals for 2021, note what resources are at your disposal, set goals based upon targets to reach, think about your audience and creating prospect segments, identify targeted donor populations, decide on a theme for messaging purposes, determine methodology for making a variety of solicitations, thank donors, measure and use analysis. To succeed with the big picture, you need innovation, courage and creativity. Every facet of your fundraising team must work in sync.
Unfortunately, many unprepared nonprofits create a mad dash to the finish line without a plan, leading to great stress with a variety of constituencies. To succeed early in the calendar year, engage with current donors and give them a sneak peek as to upcoming programs of interest. Please note that 64% of all donations are made by women so target your demographics accordingly.
At the beginning of the campaign year, set your end-of-year goals. Build your individual campaigns, programs and events. Consider at least one major event during November and December to boost interest in your organization. Constantly build relationships with prospects and donors. Have your November campaigns focus heavily on the Giving Tuesday program. Use December as a holiday theme for blessings and giving back to help causes.
It is important to monitor giving programs in a variety of ways throughout the year. There are a variety of ways to boost year-end giving. Constantly review your strategic and operational plans. See where you can make gains through reallocation of resources. Have a constant theme, show your organizational impact and promote a spirit of giving. Tell your story with passion and emotion. Many prospects and donors are mentally prepared for the seasonal rush of the nonprofit sector and expect to be asked for contributions during the last quarter of the year. Constantly be aware of this fact and do not get left behind. There is too much to lose!
Editor's Note: This is part two in the "How Can You Boost 2021 Year-End Giving?" series. Read part one here.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.