A Note on End of Year Giving

If your organization has done even a modicum of planning, you’re probably in the thick of a year-end giving campaign. So, let’s talk about it! You may be thinking, “Well it’s a little late now!” No worries. Even if you’ve already started your campaign, it’s never too late to think about its strategy — and what, if anything, should be improved.

Think of it as an opportunity for recalibration! Here’s a lesson from this year’s increased focus on #GivingTuesday: the festive-season fundraising arena is more crowded than ever. If your organization (or program) wants to stand out, here are a few ideas for you to consider:

Leave the scattershot approach behind.

You’ve had a lot on your plate. Event fundraising. Digital fundraising efforts. #GivingTuesday. Institutional giving submissions. Developing a year-end giving strategy may feel like one challenge too many, perhaps accompanied by fatigue or a lack of imagination on just how to pitch your organization again. When in doubt, use your previous work as inspiration. Repurpose that messaging to your end of year giving campaign … and make sure your plan is consistently articulated across all channels, including social media, blog posts, email, newsletters, and direct mail!)

Work with a consultant.

A consultant can act as a strategist for your nonprofit, transitioning organizations away from scattershot fundraising approaches, and ensuring that all staff members are on the same page. Whether you’re using social media, email, traditional appeal letters or some combination of all three, a consultant can work with you to:

  • evaluate your giving strategy,
  • develop your goals,
  • and come up with a plan that more directly addresses your organizational needs.

A strategist can also be of great assistance when trying something new. Expand your donor base. Perhaps, start a new digital fundraising campaign.

Demonstrate past and future impact.

Telling compelling stories that demonstrate your impact is a good tip at any time of year. Doing so is even more so when your nonprofit – along with nearly every other organization – is seeking those final donations of the year. But with so many asks, a well-crafted need statement alone may not be enough to convince future donors. So emphasize the expected outcomes, not just the need. (And if you have outcomes from previous years, include that too.) These days, accountability has become increasingly important. Donors truly appreciate learning more on just how their money will be used.

Express gratitude.

Speaking of appreciation, in your campaign materials, consider expressing your gratitude BEFORE you receive donations. Thank them for considering your organization when there are a plethora of other amazing causes and organizations to support. Thank them for their time. Thank them for being a thoughtful person. You can also show your appreciation by making the donor feel included. Let them know that they’re part of something bigger – they’re not just giving to your organization, they’re a vital member of the team advocating for your cause.

Have fun with it!

The ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge (and other campaigns like it) wasn’t just an exercise in demonstrating how to get a campaign to go viral. Another remarkable aspect of the campaign? They drew attention to a seriously debilitating disease by including a little levity — not by reiterating its devastating effects. Leading with lightheartedness enabled the organization to educate more people about the disease, as well as successfully increase donor cultivation efforts and raise money for their cause.

Emphasize urgency.

With a built-in deadline, year-end campaigns imply a sense of urgency; it’s not at all unusual for an organization to engage in a sort of countdown to December 31st as a tactic (as well as mentioning the potential benefit of a donation to a donor’s taxes). However, to stand apart, focus less on the calendar and taxes and instead concentrate on the difference funding actually makes. Particularly if the issue you support is an ongoing one, make the case why, at this particular point in time, your organization needs funding. How will the donate enrich lived or make a situation better in the very near future?

According to statistics, over 30% of annual contributions made are made in December, with 12% of all giving taking place in the last three days of the year so no matter where you are in this year’s end of year fundraising journey, it may literally pay to spend a bit more time thinking about your campaign. Consider using these six tips as a starting point in evaluating your work, and happy fundraising!