By Alex Davis
Southern Tier Communications Strategies, LLC
Year-end fundraising campaigns for 2022 are now nearly three months in the rear-view mirror. How did your nonprofit do? Did you communicate your mission effectively in a well-rounded outreach plan to rake in mountains of donations and support? Or did your organization’s efforts flop?
If your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaign flopped – if donations trickled in and it was hard to gain any traction – we’re so sorry to hear that! Let’s start working toward some solutions now. The first quarter of 2023 will end quickly, and it’s most certainly not too soon to begin building your year-end efforts today. It’s a critical part of your annual nonprofit fundraising endeavors, as a majority of nonprofit donations come between Giving Tuesday and New Year’s.
Early Preparation is Key to a Successful Year-End Fundraising Campaign
Let’s look back to look forward. Did your organization’s 2022 year-end campaign planning begin too late? Did you cobble it together at the last minute? Was your organization’s focus too broad? Did your messaging effectively hammer home your mission? (Because, as we know, nonprofit donors and funders always put their money behind mission.) Did you have well-defined goals and objectives to forge a clear pathway to success?
There are so many things to get right. So let’s have a look at some best practices to make this year’s year-end fundraising campaign the best yet!
Did we mention the importance of preparation? Begin preparing now! Yes, it’s still the beginning of a new year, but the earlier planning starts, the more fine-tuned the campaign will be when it’s time to launch. Preparing early means your team – from your Board of Directors and fund developer to your program assistants and marketing staff – can approach the campaign well versed and ready to execute their part of the plan. What’s more, they’ll be ready to do so without feeling rushed or panicked.
Suffice it to say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Goals & Objectives
Set some goals that are clear and attainable. How much money do you need to raise? For what specific fundraising purpose? What specific segments of the population do you want to target? What are the most appropriate avenues to reach your target donor audience? Does your messaging and digital presence inspire confidence in your mission and lead donors to easily supporting your mission.
Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. In that light, for instance, you should know well before your year-end fundraising campaign that your goal is $100,000 to specifically support a certain thing. One of your goals could be that you have the messaging written and approved for campaign social media posts by September, and scheduled in advance by October. Another could be that you have a new donation landing page built and ready to launch by Halloween. Or, even earlier, that you have ALL of the campaign details and assignments to team members by July 4 to begin preparing.
All Roads Lead to Donating
Create a one-stop shop for all of your organization’s year-end campaign activities. What’s that mean? It means all of your campaign materials – social media posts, emails, mailers and even word of mouth – should point to one easy place for donors to take an action. You need one link to one website landing page – or at least one easy way to donate by mail, if you still accept donations that way.
Coordinating holiday giving can be stressful for everyone with how much information is out there. That is why one page that encompasses information about your organization and specifics about how to donate are vital.
Sharing is Caring
Campaigns should be able to be easily shared by anyone and everyone. Content needs to be a well-rounded mix of words, videos, photos and perhaps even gifs that tell your nonprofit’s story in very captivating ways.
Tap into the power of creativity. Think outside of the box. What would catch someone’s attention and compel them to click share via social media or forward to their contact lists via email?
Speaking of social media, don’t forget to use #hashtags! They may seem pointless and confusing to some. But they will integrate your campaign with entire social media movements for giving. A person who is scrolling Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn may be checking out hashtags that pique their giving interest and end up donating money to your organization.
Testimonials & Stories of Impact
Real-life testimonials and stories bring a depth to the organization’s mission. The social proof method spurs donors to further what your organization quite clearly is capable of accomplishing.
Front & Center
Your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaign should be brought up throughout the year. Don’t let the topic simmer. Make sure prospective donors are aware of your year-end efforts – from Giving Tuesday campaigns and events to public engagement opportunities – months before the campaign begins in earnest.
What might this include? Keep the following in mind: website pop-ups, social ads or even some old-school traditional media via press releases and interviews with reporters.
Optimize for Mobile
In this digital age, more people consume information and marketing on their phones and other devices than anywhere else. That’s where a major push should be in driving your organization’s year-end fundraising efforts – reaching people with important information as they’re mindlessly scrolling or actively communicating with the world. Make sure your content appears well on mobile devices; not just laptops and desktop computers.
And once again, make sure your organization has a dedicated online donation page or text-2-give option for people to donate easily.
Don’t ignore sending out emails. While open and click rates are traditionally low, email marketing is still an important – even vital – avenue for engagement with specific audiences.
Emails should be sent to past donors, prospective donors, curated contact lists, stakeholders and others to drive support, solicit donations and nurture the conversation about your mission to help people and systems in need.
Set a Challenge
A challenge can be fun and friendly, especially when it comes to benefitting a good cause. Competition can be a good thing. Family, friends and entire communities can compete with one another to raise money for your organization.
A great example of this locally is the annual #CattaraugusGives event, in which nonprofit organizations through Cattaraugus County register and compete for the most donations and special prizes on Giving Tuesday.
Show Your Progress
Donors, stakeholders and others invested in your mission want to know how your year-end fundraising campaign is going. Create a website page or interactive social media graphic that shows where the campaign stands in real time. This shows donors how much they need to contribute to the cause – and potentially get you over that hump to meeting your goal!
Donors enjoy being thanked for their contribution. While nonprofit givers pride themselves on being selfless, their motivations still crave recognition. And that’s true across all giving demographics. Not receiving a thank you note makes one feel like their gift was not appreciated or that their hard-earned money is just a number to you.
A response with a heartfelt thank you should be given, at the very latest, within 48 hours of the gift. It’s even better if you can automate responses to acknowledge donations immediately. (Helpful hint: They’ll be so much more likely to give again.)
Document Your Process
Lastly, once you have a system in place, be sure to document processes used and continue to refine it. That way you don’t have to recreate the fundraising wheel for next year and the year after.
Year-End Fundraising Campaign Advice Nonprofit Leaders Can’t Ignore
Your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaign is important to your organization. It might just be your biggest rainmaker to support your important community mission. But just because donors are traditionally “in the mood” during the Season of Giving doesn’t mean your nonprofit is guaranteed a big slice of the giving pie – not without planning and months of preparation. There are simply too many other nonprofits out there vying for those same mission-sustaining gifts.
It’s almost spring. Start brainstorming now and building the pathway to a successful year-end fundraising campaign – one brick at a time.
If you’re having difficulty crafting your nonprofit story to build fundraising campaigns, don’t hesitate to hire an experienced nonprofit consultant to hone your message.