It feels like we just welcomed the fall season, and yet here we are getting ready for year-end giving campaigns. Soon we’ll be in full swing of rolling out GivingTuesday, holiday drives, and goals for the new year. With 30% of annual giving happening in December, it’s vital that nonprofits plan ahead to create a robust year-end fundraising campaign and finish the year roaring on all cylinders. And given online giving has increased by over 32% over the past three years, one way to effectively do so is by ramping up your digital efforts.
Typically, year-end digital campaigns launch on GivingTuesday and run through December 31. While you may think donors are too busy and distracted to pay attention to fundraising appeals amid the holidays, the reality is that 10% of December donations are made in the last THREE days of the year. For some donors, this is to take advantage of the tax deduction cutoff, but many do so because they simply just wait until the last minute.
So how can you make the most of your year-end digital giving campaigns? There are three essential ways to do so:
- Lay your campaign’s foundation
- Map out all your campaign’s touchpoints
- Create high response year-end appeals
Lay your campaign’s foundation
Before you can start raking in those year-end campaign donations, you need to plan your campaign. Lay the foundation by establishing your timeline, reviewing last year’s year-end campaign, and segmenting your audience data.
ESTABLISH YOUR CAMPAIGN TIMELINE
November 30 will creep up on us faster than you know it, so lay out your plan now to avoid scrambling in the days before GivingTuesday. Create a checklist and timeline that includes the following nine action items:
- Review your results from last year’s campaign
- Identify your goals for this year’s campaign
- Segment your list
- Define your campaign’s theme, key images, and information
- Update all your online donation forms
- Prepare all your appeal copy and design
- Send your first round of appeals and schedule subsequent rounds
- Set up your donation confirmations, thank yous, and follow-ups
- Report your progress and results
REVIEW YOUR RESULTS FROM LAST YEAR’S CAMPAIGN
Before you get started with your year-end giving campaign, take the time to review your results from last year’s campaign. Dive deep into the data to find out what worked, what didn’t, and where adjustments need to be made. Start with top-level data like gross revenue, and then do some more digging to determine which channel(s) performed the best, what asks and appeals had the greatest impact, and how each segment responded.
SEGMENT YOUR YEAR-END MAILING LIST
Speaking of segments, this is the time to review your lists and group your donors if they’re not already segmented. Sub-categories can include donor type, average gift size, most recent gift, giving frequency, channel preference (email versus mail), and more. This step is key to creating personalized, high response appeals.
UPDATE YOUR ONLINE FORMS
Since 55% of donors prefer to give online, your organization’s online contribution forms are critically important. Everything from your website’s donation page to mobile response forms needs to be checked and double-checked to ensure that it’s collecting the required information and reflecting your campaign’s theme and language.
Map out all your campaign’s touchpoints
Once you’ve established your theme, segmented your list, and gotten all online donation forms ready to go, it’s time to switch gears to map out how to reach donors. We recommend a combination of several channels that work together seamlessly to inspire and motivate supporters to donate to your cause.
We all get a ton of emails, but that’s because email is extremely effective—and it’s only getting more and more effective every year. In fact, the average response rate for fundraising emails in 2020 increased by 41% over the previous year. Do note that most nonprofits send emails in December, so it’s imperative to develop creative subject lines and inspiring copy to break through the clutter.
Social is a useful channel for your year-end campaign for two major reasons: it creates social proof and reaches new audiences. Generate engagement and motivate donors with a variety of posts that include videos, GIFs, graphics, and even some live content! Use your post to share the story behind your organization, highlight the impact of your mission, and thank supporters and volunteers. All this works in tandem to inspire your audience to donate.
Mobile is quickly becoming an essential fundraising tool. Last year, mobile message click-through rates were much higher than comparable email click-through rates. That’s in part because broadcast text and peer-to-peer messaging send your campaign appeal directly into the palm of your supporter’s hand. With just a couple taps on their screen, donors can read your message and donate to your organization in seconds.
Direct mail is the tried-and-true standard for fundraising and when complemented with digital, it can truly raise your year-end appeals to new heights. By utilizing digital to echo your message on postcards or reply forms, you can forge more meaningful relationships with your donors and in turn, skyrocket your results.
Create high response year-end appeals
After developing your year-end campaign strategy, it’s time to put it into action with creative copy and eye-catching design that carry your theme and messaging across each channel and appeal.
When creating your appeals, keep each channel in mind. How you communicate in an email is different from how you communicate on social media, so give each channel its own treatment when it comes to copy, tone, and asks.
MAKE A PERSONAL CONNECTION
Email and mobile, and direct mail appeals should be personalized as much as possible. To personalize appeals, create a deeper connection with your supporters, and inspire higher rates of giving, consider doing these five things:
- A personalized salutation is a no-brainer, but you can also raise the bar by including your donors’ first name throughout the body of the copy.
- Each appeal should come from a person, not your organization. Signatures on emails should be from an individual associated with your organization such as the Executive Director, a long-time volunteer, or staff member.
- Incorporate donor-focused language that highlights your donors’ past involvement, identifies how their donations are being used, and thanks them for their generous support. In short, make the donor feel like they’re part of your team.
- Tell a short story that exemplifies what your organization does.
- Use graphics to visually showcase your organization’s impact—graphs, progress bars, etc.—as well as photos to support your story.
ASK FOR THE RIGHT AMOUNT
Deciding on appropriate ask amounts could be its own field of study, but we’ve compiled some useful guidelines that you can follow to encourage the best response and higher average gift.
- Provide three suggested giving amounts, plus an open option to donate an amount of their choosing (i.e., $25, $40, $50, Other $___).
- Determine those suggested amounts based on each donor’s history of giving, the segment’s highest average gift, and last year’s giving trends.
- Encourage donors to sign up for recurring gifts by including a simple checkbox to opt-in to monthly donations.
THANK DONORS AND FOLLOW UP
Last but certainly not least, prepare all your post-campaign correspondence. This includes donation confirmations, thank yous, and follow-up messages to unresponsive donors. Psst… don’t be afraid to ask for an additional gift when thanking donors!
With all these pieces in place, your year-end giving campaign will be ready to deploy. Year-end giving campaigns require a lot of preparation, comprehensive data, and the ability to juggle a variety of pieces, channels, and appeals, but the results will speak for themselves.
Looking for more information?
For more information or assistance with developing your year-end giving campaign, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.