End of Year Giving Campaigns: Tips to Make Your Fundraiser Successful
The end of the year is perhaps the most important time for fundraising. It is when people get into the spirit of the season and consider the value of giving to those less fortunate than themselves.
Statistics vary, but an estimated 17% of all giving happens in the final month of the year. With so many year-end fundraising campaigns occurring during this time, nonprofits must compete to attract donors to their cause.
End-of-year giving campaigns rely on advance planning. Organizations that plan their year-end fundraising well in advance can encourage more donations and engagement from their target demographics.
Through hard work, you can ensure that your cause has the extra resources it needs to make an impact.
Reasons for creating end of the year fundraising campaigns include:
- Allow your charity organization to boost morale and enthusiasm for the new year.
- A good fundraising campaign helps an organization focus its efforts on obtaining a specific goal.
- A successful year-end giving campaign can help an organization “close out” the year with excitement, enthusiasm, and funding needed to start fresh in the New Year.
Benefits of Year-End Giving Campaigns
Embrace the Spirt of the Season
Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday in the Western world. The spirit of Christmas is about giving to those less fortunate. It is the time of year when people’s minds begin to focus on the Christian values that define their daily lives.
An end-of-year donation is commonplace in many families as they seek to do their part to support those in need.
End-of-the-year fundraising campaigns can also take advantage of tax deductions derived from charitable giving.
The IRS encourages people to give to charity by offering tax deductions on donations. There is a reason, so many affluent Americans donate substantial sums to charity at this time of year.
For a charitable tax deduction to be applied, all donations must be made by the end of the calendar year, meaning many individuals and businesses are looking to donate before the final day of the year.
Altruism is the unselfish concern and devotion to improving the welfare of your fellow human. Humans are naturally social creatures, and most have an internal desire to help others.
We give because we are altruistic by nature. End-of-year giving campaigns fuel altruism and fosters a commitment to giving to those less fortunate year-round.
How to strategize End-o-Year Giving Campaigns
Organizing end-of-year fundraising campaigns means developing a strategy that maximizes exposure for your nonprofit and encourages people to act immediately.
Develop giving campaign themes, identify your marketing channels, and ensure that you have a timeline in place for every stage of your effort.
Making an impact is tough in today’s ultra-competitive world, meaning you must go the extra mile to promote your charitable cause.
The biggest mistake nonprofits make in developing end-of-year giving campaigns is starting too late. If you’re not sending your first appeal letters until mid-November, you’re already too late. The drive for donations must start earlier.
The first planning sessions should start in September. The more time you give your staff to brainstorm, revise, and troubleshoot, the more effective your campaign will be.
Hugely successful appeals all have their roots in the fall.
Segment Your Audience
You already know who your primary audience is, but how you approach campaigning through your mailing and email lists should differ based on several factors, such as:
- Individual or business
- Donation size
- Donation frequency
- Date of the last gift
Each of these sample segments has different needs. If someone makes a large annual donation in December, your messaging will differ from the one you send to someone who sends smaller donations monthly.
Your campaign chart should include several appeals within the overarching structure of your end-of-year efforts.
Create a Compelling Story
Look at any major charity, and they will always have a central story for the season. That story puts a human face on your campaign and demonstrates the impact donations make on real people.
Your story is a significant way to connect on an emotional level with your supporters. It is the primary motivator that encourages people to donate.
Start looking into the stories you can tell and sharing that powerful story to warm up your audience. These stories are designed to build anticipation and soften the hearts of your target demographic before you ask for a donation.
Identify a powerful tale that illustrates the good that your nonprofit does. Pick out your biggest success story for the most pivotal campaign of the year. Perhaps it was a mission trip? Or, maybe you were able to develop new outreach programs?
When you settle on your story, this is the lead that will appear in blogs, images, videos, social media, and email blasts.
Try not to tell too many stories. You want a consistent narrative across every channel you use. Focusing on a single story has the potential to make the most significant impact.
Spread the Word
Behind every successful end-of-year giving campaign is a successful launch. In today’s saturated media world, people are unlikely to stumble across you by chance, let alone be subsequently motivated to donate.
Make an official announcement of your campaign across all available channels. But, which channels should you be using?
There’s no right or wrong answer. Smaller nonprofits may concentrate their resources on particular channels, whereas larger companies can focus on maximizing their profiles.
Some examples of marketing channels include:
- Email Blasts – Send a message to people who have already subscribed to your newsletter list.
- Social Media – Select your social media channels and post about your campaign across all the channels you use. Try to avoid simply copy/pasting your announcement across each platform. Creating a unique message for each channel is much more effective.
- Direct Mail – Send postcards to businesses and patrons in your local neighborhood.
- SMS – Mobile marketing has never been more popular. Initiate an SMS advertising campaign to reach people on their smartphones.
- Radio/TV – Advertising on local radio and TV is can be an affordable way to spread the word about your campaign.
How you decide to advertise will be based on your audience and budget. Ideally, you should focus on the channels where you have previously been successful.
Keep Your Campaign at the Top of the List
Frequency is vital in end-of-year giving campaigns. Sending out a single message to launch your campaign is not enough to make an impact.
Most people will only be thinking about donations in December, so scheduling a follow-up or two is wise as you approach the end of the year. Make sure your campaign gathers pace but avoid becoming a nuisance.
Whenever you send a follow-up, make sure you have something new to say. For example, you may want to provide updates on the number of people who have already donated. You could even offer a part two of the main story you shared at the start of your campaign. .
In addition, be sure you send a message during the last week of the year and on the last day of the year to capture those last-minute donations.
Harness the Power of Social
Nearly everyone has an account on at least one social media network. Marketing on these networks is a chance for you to interact with your supporters in an engaging, conversational way.
Change up the content you post on social media. Give people a reason to keep tuning into your feed. Some ideas for what you can post on social media include:
- Story Reinforcement – Add some strong imagery and videos to enhance the story at the heart of your campaign. Release segments periodically, so people are keen for the next edition.
- Campaign Updates – Keep people up to date on your campaign’s progress. Keep it positive so that people feel connected to your cause. Remember, people tend to follow, not to lead, so if hundreds have already donated, it can also trigger others to contribute.
- Thank Your Donors – A simple thank you goes a long way. Give the public the recognition they deserve. Show your gratitude via your social accounts.
- Create a Social Media Trend – Social media challenges have been prevalent for years. Create your own campaign to complement your year-end appeal to encourage engagement within the community.
- Answer Questions – Answer questions from your followers to avoid leaving your social media feeds one-sided. Never ignore questions or comments from supporters. Embrace the conversation.
Your supporters are the heart and soul of your cause. Thinking of creative ways to connect and engage with them is vital to fostering that sense of coming together as the year comes to a close.
Make it Personal
Personal connections can lead to larger donations and encourage previous donors to continue donating for years to come.
Go through previous donations, especially for the previous year’s end-of-year campaign, and reach out directly to some of those heavy hitters. If you are a church, for example, your church database should have all the contact information you need.
Key donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit. Reach out to them directly through email or over the phone to make them aware of your campaign. Larger nonprofits often focus on wealthy individuals and businesses that have previously donated to boost their numbers.
There is nothing wrong with getting personal but avoid being pushy. Take the route of reminding them how much of an impact they have made in the past. Thank them for what they have already donated and politely ask if they would like to continue their support.
Engaging key supporters in conversation may resemble a sales pitch, but the emphasis should be on genuine conversation. Let them do most of the talking. The last thing you want is your donors to feel like you view them as a walking ATM.
Showing recognition and making them feel appreciated is the foundation of successful long-term relationships between you and your donors.
Invest in Community Fundraising
Online marketing for nonprofits is different from a for-profit business. Your audience will always be limited to a specific demographic on social media or via email. Even at the end of the year, you should consider enlarging your audience.
Avoid the status quo and start getting out into the community. Community-driven fundraising remains one of the most effective ways for charities to make a difference. Activate your supporters and encourage them to help promote your end of year fundraising on your behalf.
Every nonprofit has its core group of supporters. They may not be the biggest donors or even donors at all. Instead, these people willingly donate their time and expertise to promote a good cause.
Asking your supporters to share their stores, providing recognition for those who solicit third-party donations, and inviting those with marketing expertise to contribute their time are just some of the ways to activate your supporters.
You may even want to organize a special event sponsored by you. For example, a local 5K race or a charity auction are two fun ways of rounding out the year.
Whatever way you decide to grow your donor base, end-of-year appeals are one of your most potent options.