Prepping for Giving Tuesday Through Year-End Giving
Now is the time to plan for the fundraising and communications activities you’ll employ between the time you read this and December 31. The lion’s share of charitable donations are made during the last three months of the year, and even though Giving Tuesday is later than usual this year, December 3 will be here before you know it.
Looking at the bigger picture first, your fundraising development plan, your main activities are already strategically planned out. When you created your development plan (I just know you create a robust, board-approved development plan every year), you identified your overall fundraising goal for the year and listed out what fundraising activities (“activities” are not synonymous with special events) you plan to undertake, along with what amount of the total goal each will represent. You assigned responsible parties for specific actions, as well as delineated appropriate timeframes. The development plan is a strategic document that doesn’t go into what I call “desk-level detail”; it doesn’t list out every tactic and action you’ll take to achieve a section of the overall plan.
Time to Plan
That’s what we need to do now — plan out the details of what actions you can carry out between now and December 31 to improve your donor engagement and increase the amount raised to support the mission of your organization.
My favorite tool to do this, because it is simple and clear, is a free editorial calendar template from Top Nonprofits (you’re welcome for sharing my secret). You can choose any type of planning calendar that works for you.
November is a self-evident time to give thanks to your donors. We thank donors in many ways all year, of course. We share mission stories and describe what good was accomplished with the donors’ dollars. But November is a good time to do a little extra — to send written thank-you cards, create a thank-you video or for board members to make thank you calls (maybe even do a thank-a-thon). It is also when most nonprofits send their first direct mail piece of the fourth quarter.
A good planning calendar enables you to schedule your messaging by date, time, subject matter, who is responsible and what vehicles of communication will be used. Those vehicles may include: direct mail, email, peer-to-peer fundraising pages, text-to-give messaging, round-up donations, Facebook posts and fundraisers, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and whatever other type of social media your organization uses.
Depending upon the size of your organization, the planning tool may also include TV spots, social media advertising, Google Ads, radio advertising, print ads and content marketing.
You can see that with the many possible ways to communicate your messaging and fundraising appeals, everything must be coordinated. If your organization has a marketing or PR department, make sure the fundraising team works with marketing to ensure your messages complement each other… or at the very least that you aren’t sending competing communications.
Giving Tuesday Planning
I’ve covered planning for thank-yous and direct mail, now let’s look at planning what you are going to do for Giving Tuesday. Can you secure a matching-gift donation? Are you going to mention Giving Tuesday in your direct mail beforehand?
Before the end of November, it is a good idea to send an email letting your organization’s supporters know that you’ll be participating in Giving Tuesday, and that it will provide them an opportunity to help in an area they are passionate about — whether that is saving animals, bringing art to the community, making sure children don’t go hungry or conserving the environment.
Messaging and appeals on Giving Tuesday are generally a combination of social media posts/appeals and email appeals. Since it is a day throughout which it is appropriate to solicit several times, the planning calendar is a great way to both preselect your messaging and associated imagery, and to determine whether you want any of your pieces to tie together (i.e. will a social media post be a follow-up to an email, use the same photo and/or connect messaging?).
After Giving Tuesday there is, of course, more thanking to be done! December is often a mix of activities and events. Some organizations do a “clean-up” direct mail piece to all of those who didn’t give in response to the November mailing. Other organizations focus on email appeals in December.
Universally, organizations send at least one message shortly before December 31, offering supporters another opportunity to donate to the mission before the end of the year (for some donors, there could be positive tax implications for doing so). The message may be an email, social media post or text — or maybe all three to segmented lists.
Remember, it doesn’t need to be the same communication going to everyone who has ever interacted with your organization. You can segment your lists based on donors and future donors, areas of interest, favored methods of contact and any number of other methods of categorizing messaging.
The important things to remember are that different messages will appeal to different audiences, people like to receive and respond to messages on a variety of platforms (communicate the way they like, not the way you are most comfortable) and you are providing an opportunity for people to help others in a way that is meaningful to them.
Planning your end-of-year communications and appeals ahead of time and in concert with other departments in your organization will help you bring the right message to the right people at the right time. And that is the magic formula for helping people to give successfully and to feel good about their donation.
Tracy Vanderneck is president of Phil-Com, a training and consulting company where she works with nonprofits across the U.S. on fundraising, board development and strategic planning. Tracy has more than 25 years of experience in fundraising, business development and sales. She holds a Master of Science in management with a concentration in nonprofit leadership, a graduate certificate in teaching and learning, and a DEI in the Workplace certificate. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), an Association of Fundraising Professionals Master Trainer, and holds a BoardSource certificate in nonprofit board consulting. Additionally, she designs and delivers online fundraising training classes and serves as a Network for Good Personal Fundraising Coach.