Fall is my favorite season. Why? I love the cool, crisp air. The feeling of leaves crushing beneath my feet. Cooking with all things pumpkin and apple (I make a mean pumpkin roll and a yummy apple crostata), hayrides, and yes—football season! Oh yeah, I binge-watch football from Thursday–Monday. But I also love the excitement and anticipation surrounding end of year (EOY) fundraising for my non-profit clients.
Here are our top 10 G’s for you to remember when asking people to give back to your organization.
10.) Get started early.
By August- your organization should have its end of year strategy in place. End of year giving is not just about the month of December. After people return from summer vacations, you want to get them reacquainted with your organization and its mission. It’s also the time to get new or prospective supporters signed up to your email list. November can best be used for not direct fundraising, but for a non-financial engagement activity that does two things:
1) Lifts the energy and interest of existing names on your email list prior to the relatively heavy-handed year-end fundraising period.
2) Adds substantial numbers of new people to your list in advance of the December year-end fundraising push. The month of December, specifically the final week must include:
- Promotion across every channel
- A campaign with a very strong deadline and sense of urgency
- A holiday brand that is included on every channel (Facebook, YouTube should have the same treatment as the Web)
9.) Get an EOY website upgrade. Your website is the face of your year-end campaign and it should look that way.
- The homepage should include compelling imagery that provides an emotional appeal.
- The website should include several emotional appeals to both increase overall awareness and raise money for the mission which can be done with a more personal feel to the website.
- Ensure that your donation pages have been optimized for year-end giving. Here are our tips on how to do so.
- Imagery used for the campaign should reflect a holiday, winter feel but be non-denominational in nature.
- Make your story front and center.
- Consider an all things EOY page. This should include overview copy, a photo gallery, video from the show/teasers, social media links, and of course- the ability to give.
- Donate now should be much more prominent on the site. If possible, the main graphics for the campaign should link to a donation page.
- If this is not already the case, consider making Donate one of the main navigation headings so it can be on every page of the website.
- With the launch of every EOY campaign email, the website should have a graphic on the homepage that is in sync with the messaging- providing a call-to-action to key elements (donate, share, etc.) from the effort.
- Social media icons should be much more prominent, encouraging individuals to follow the holiday effort via Twitter and Facebook.
- Don’t forget to add this treatment to all of your EOY campaign channels including your emails, blog, social media channels, SEM efforts, etc.
8.) Get creative.
Everyone knows to send good emails for fundraising, but what about stepping outside of the email box? The USO offered holiday cards with combat boots instead of stocking hanging from the chimney to sell during the holiday season. Consider allowing users to be a part of an EOY holiday wall that allows them to share a video with their friends and family asking them to give with them.
7.) Go find your story.
Your holiday campaign should stand out from, yet stand with your mission. When thinking of your focal story for your EOY of year campaign, consider the following elements:
- What is/are the problem (s) we want to solve?
- What is the solution our organization can provide with your support?
- Why is this urgent? Why does the gift need to be received before the end of year?
6.) Give options.
Current and prospective donors want to see what your organization is all about before just opening their wallets. To encourage audiences to test drive your message in the weeks leading up to your core fundraising effort, give them a few options such as:
- Signing up for an email for more information on how your organization works
- Simply liking a campaign on social media
- Watching a video
- Reading a story
5.) Get new emails.
We all have different views, but we tend to have family and friends that share our beliefs and likes. One of the easiest ways to grow your audience in time for critical year end fundraising is to ask your audience to become your brand evangelists. To encourage participation and to allow your followers to be involved, ask them to ask 3, 5, or 7 people they know on social media to share your message. From there, ask them to sign up to read your campaign.
4.) Go mobile.
People not only read and shop via their smartphones, they also expect to give this way as well. Make sure that your donation pages and appeal emails are optimized for mobile. Read this great article from Mobile Cause to see how. Don’t forget to consider a texting campaign.
3.) Give deadlines.
In order to encourage a sense of urgency for your campaign, there has to be set deadline. The average non-profit raises nearly 70% of their annual fundraising dollars in the month of December. It is the time of year when people are feeling more generous, and when they are eager to earn last-minute tax deductions. It’s OK to share with your audience that not only do their donations help your organization, but they too can benefit from tax deductions from their charitable act.
- Your organization should consider how end of year factors such as the weather, travel, or the holidays can support your message. Or, is it more feasible to have a more specific campaign asks at another time of year that your organization ‘owns?’
For example: all eyes are on conservation and environmental organizations during the month of April surrounding Earth Day.
- Consider that #GivingTuesday has a shelf life of 24 hours, so you must give today.
- An organization that provides resources to low-income families should highlight the immediate impact of frigid temperatures on those they serve, and should also position their message and opportunity for amplification at this time.
2.) Get a matchmaker.
The end of the year is the perfect time to make a matching gift push because most matching gift deadlines are right around the New Year. Be sure to recognize the donor (even if anonymously), share a transparent look into where those donated funds will go (restricted or unrestricted), and why it’s important for your donors to give to enhance the depth of the match.
1.) Give thanks.
Yes. It’s that simple. Be sure to thank your donors and mission evangelists on your website, via social media, and email at the end of the campaign. Consider having your CEO, Executive Director, or Development/Fundraising lead star in a video that simply says thank you. Here is a great example from the 2011 year-end campaign I worked on with Conservation International.
Need help with your end of year fundraising efforts? Contact Caught in the Web Consulting, LLC today.