There are many reasons for increased charitable giving toward the end of the year from offering a contrast to the rampant consumerism which surrounds the holidays, to simply allowing people an opportunity to feel good about donating their time and money, to acting as a tax incentive.
Regardless of the reason, your organization should take advantage of this opportunity to make lasting connections with supporters as the year reaches its close.
Nonprofit organizations that approach the end of the year with a diligent plan for targeting donors have the potential to exponentially increase their fundraising success. Organizations can reach up to half of their donation goals for the year during this period. That’s definitely worth the effort your organization puts into making its plan!
However, we all know that there are challenges to creating the perfect year-end plan that every nonprofit must avoid.
Like most things, constructing a fundraising plan for your organization is easier said than done. This article aims to give you some tips for ways you can strengthen your year-end fundraising plan going into the 2019 end-of-year giving season.
In order for your organization to reach its full potential, you should:
- Assess last year’s progress.
- Set attainable goals for 2019.
- Start stewarding gifts early.
- Plan a matching gifts drive.
These tips will help guide you through the process of planning and executing a strong year-end fundraising campaign. So, let’s dive in and help you get prepared to have the perfect holiday giving season.
1. Assess last year’s progress
Progress and evolution are essential for a growing nonprofit organization. You should pay attention to what works and what does not when making your fundraising plans. Throughout the year, you should track the success of each fundraising campaign and know what strategies are effective for your specific audience.
When trying to evaluate the success of your fundraising strategies, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did we meet our fundraising goals?
- If we fell short of our goals, why?
- What “unpredictable” variables held us back?
- Did we fundraise using the right methods?
- What did our supporters have to say?
As you go through these questions, don’t be afraid to admit fault. It’s okay if your plan for the previous year didn’t work the way you wanted it to. The important thing is to find what will work. Nonprofits take a lot of hard work to sustain and require a forward-thinking and innovative team at the helm.
There are countless ways for you to decide which methods you think will be effective for your organization’s year-end giving campaign. You should consider traditional methods of fundraising such as mailing lists, social media posts, events, etc. Methods such as crowdfunding and other socially-driven fundraising techniques are constantly rising in popularity.
No matter which method you choose to deliver your fundraising campaign, make sure you include a humanizing element that will demonstrate your organization’s mission. People should understand the good that you do.
Share personal stories from volunteers to emphasize the impact of your organization and demonstrate the concrete steps you have taken to accomplish your goals.
To read more about the vital importance of storytelling in your fundraising campaign, click here.
Finding the sweet spot with your methodology is the trickiest part of the fundraising process, but it is the most important. As you try to assess your previous year’s progress and plan for the upcoming year, keep yourself open to new fundraising techniques.
2. Set attainable goals for 2019
Planning any sort of fundraising campaign makes you call into question the fundraising capacity of your organization. Just as it is important to know your strengths, it is equally important to know the areas where you can improve.
Once you know which methods may or may not be successful for your organization, you need to set goals for your upcoming giving season.
Setting realistic goals for yourself and your organization is absolutely vital to your success. Know what is within your reach and then make a plan to achieve it.
If you are having difficulty understanding where you went wrong or how to begin rethinking your fundraising strategy, consider hiring a fundraising consultant.
Fundraising consultants can help you get out of your fundraising slump and revitalize your fundraising strategies. They provide an expert outside perspective that understands the troubles facing nonprofits. However, make sure your consultant is well-versed in your specific type of organization.
For tips on how to choose the right fundraising consultant, see this guide.
A good fundraising consultant can help you set ambitious goals for your year-end campaign that your nonprofit has the capacity to accomplish.
Don’t get bogged down in the details of planning your year-end campaign and lose sight of your organization’s big picture goals. Your goals may center around two things:
- Donor growth.
- Donor retention.
It’s not always realistic to expect your donor base to expand exponentially, but you should see a steady, consistent increase in donors with a successful fundraising campaign.
Donor retention is key to a nonprofit’s success. You want your donors to see their money being put to good use and choose to continue supporting your organization. If you want to learn more ways to improve donor loyalty to your organization, check out these tips.
While you should be basing your goals on your previous successes, don’t forget to think outside the box and be bold in the new year.
3. Start stewarding gifts early
Now is the time where you are probably leaning over to your teammates or fellow nonprofit organizers and whispering, with the nervousness of someone who thinks the answer to their question is obvious to everyone but them: How do I even start to ask for donations?
That is a great question! It can be tricky to know when, how, and even who, to ask for donations. Luckily, there are plenty of resources, like this guide to asking for donations from Fundly, that can help you along the way.
The “when” is simple: it’s never too early to start approaching your prospective donors for the year-end giving season. It is always useful to plant the seed of giving in their minds so they can remember you when the time comes.
It is helpful to start planning and organizing your approach in the early fall so that you can be prepared to send out an initial year-end fundraising reminder in late October or early November.
That being said, fundraising outreach will be at its height during this season. Set your organization up for success by distinguishing yourself from other nonprofits seeking donors.
When approaching potential donors, you want to endear your cause to them. Make it personal and direct. Emails, handwritten notes, phone calls, etc., will entice people to give your organization a second glance and make them more likely to donate.
Knowing who to ask is just as important as how you ask. Do your research and target your donor requests to people who are likely to value the cause you support and who are fiscally capable of fulfilling your request.
4. Plan a matching gifts drive
Holding a matching gifts drive is one of the easiest ways to spring past the finish line during the year-end fundraising season. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked and forgotten.
Being aware of the incentives available in matching gift programs will allow you to take full advantage of people’s generosity. Participating companies will match their employees’ donations to qualifying nonprofit organizations in a 1:1, 2:1, or even 3:1 ratio, depending on the company!
To see how your nonprofit can use its website to educate its visitors about matching gift programs, check out the gift matching search tool on the AFSP website.
Since many companies will match gifts made through December 31st of the past year, your team should hold a matching gifts drive to encourage any donors who have given in the past year to submit a matching gift request.
Your matching gift drive can take many different forms. Don’t be afraid to get in the holiday spirit! With a little creativity, ways to raise money during the holiday season can be enjoyable for you and your donors!
Approaching donors and securing donations during year-end fundraising is no easy feat. It is important to understand the successes and failures of your previous fundraising strategy and steer your organization toward a more productive and effective method.
If you keep these suggestions in mind, you will be able to create and execute an excellent plan for the 2019 year-end giving season!
This guest post was written by Lomesh Shah.
Lomesh has over 25 years of experience in international corporate leadership with a strong emphasis on marketing technology and data management systems. Lomesh has worked with small to mid-size businesses, privately-held companies and Fortune 500 corporations in various capacities; from sales and marketing to overseeing automation and re-engineering of processes and operations. As CEO of NonProfitEasy, Lomesh spends much of his time immersed in the nonprofit industry both as an industry leader, speaker, and in service to several organizations as a board member and volunteer. Outside of the industry, Lomesh is a technology junkie and will give anyone willing to listen an assessment of the latest trends in anything from espresso makers and mobile gadgets to electric cars and wind power.