Did you know there are only 9 weeks left in 2015? This year is speeding by and if you’re like other nonprofit leaders, year-end fundraising is top of mind. Today I want to share a few best practices to ensure you are heading into year-end prepared to win.
The Top 10 Things You Should Know For a Strong Year-End Campaign
Here are ten things every fundraiser should know to maximize the year-end giving season:
- Start planning early. Ideally, your year-end planning starts in January. If you haven’t started thinking about it, start now. Create a communications calendar with key dates for each year-end touch point. Map out the strategy to help you keep an eye on the big picture, as well as the steps involved on each project.
- Evaluate your data. The strongest fundraising campaigns are based on extensive donor analytics. Knowing who your donors are, their propensity and capacity to give, and their specific interests will inform the strategic decisions of your campaign.
- Break down silos. The development department is often divided up into levels of the pyramid—general fund, mid-level gifts, major gifts, and planned giving. When it comes to year-end communication, each “silo” should work in concert together, building upon each other’s messaging and actively driving donor engagement and involvement with the organization.
- Craft a compelling story. Giving to charity is highly emotional. Donors will be more compelled to give when the appeal is tied to a person, animal, or place in need of assistance. Use language and images that appeal to donors emotionally with specific examples of how their gift will benefit someone else.
- Create catalytic events. These move your donors into deeper commitments and higher levels of giving. Capitalize on a matching challenge so your donors’ gifts go twice as far. Start giving clubs that donors can join at various levels. Offer opportunities for donors to give to specific programs or projects.
- Optimize your website. Your website gives donors their first true impression of your organization and can be the most influential factor in whether a donor decides to give. If your website is properly designed and organized, you can collect email addresses, have people register for ongoing communications and updates, and most importantly—capture donations.
- Integrate your communication channels. Each communication channel should be linked, timed, and orchestrated according to its particular strength. Your campaign calendar should reflect planned communications that alternate between email and direct mail. Add in phone calls and in-person visits for key constituents. The integrated approach will reinforce your message and give donors multiple outlets through which to give.
- Plan a final email push the last days of the year. You can wrap up your year-end communications after Christmas with an email push that offers donors a last chance to give. Consider sending the first of your final emails to your entire donor file, less those who have already given. Then, for the next send, suppress the names of those who opened the previous last-chance email and resend the email again.
- Thank your donors. Your first response to a donation is a great opportunity to creatively express your gratitude. Be sure the messaging and design are consistent with your campaign. Remember to thank your donors throughout the year, not just at year-end. Whether you use a personal phone call, a handwritten note, or a letter—let your donors know how important they are to your work and how grateful you are for their partnership.
- Cultivate for next year. Your year-end campaign doesn’t end on December 31. Plan for strategic follow-up through February to establish and foster ongoing relationships with donors. After your thank-you emails, schedule a series of welcome emails with more information about your work and your plans for the upcoming year.
An effective year-end campaign doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be thoughtfully planned and well-executed. Which of these strategies most excites you?
This guest post was written by Rebecca Gregory Segovia, executive vice president of client strategy at Pursuant.
With over two decades of leadership experience, Rebecca Gregory Segovia has a strong vision and passion to help nonprofits reach donors and raise dollars to further their mission. Her specialties include integrated marketing, direct response fundraising, and leveraging technology to achieve results.