Claire Axelrad is a passionate philanthropist who owns a fundraising training and coaching business. She acts as a resource and mentor to wannabe and current development staff, executive directors and boards. Visit her blog, Clairification, for collaborative coaching and mentoring, online courses, webinars, e-courses, podcasts and a variety of helpful resources.
If it’s been a while since you reported back to your donors on the impact of their giving, take time to do so now before you send your appeal. This puts people in a grateful and giving mood. It also reminds them that they already made a decision to give to you — which acts as a decision-making shortcut this time around.
Next, call your lapsed donors. If you can’t call them all, prioritize. Call your major donors. And your donors who gave multiple gifts during the course of the year. Maybe even some of your longer-term repeat donors. Often folks don’t even realize they’ve neglected to make their gift yet this year. They’ll actually appreciate the reminder.
Finally, make sure your Donation Landing Page and Thank You Page are in tip-top shape. I’ve got some suggestions, and more ideas of some simple things you can do to boost your success, over on my Clairification blog.
Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, is an international fundraising consultant, keynote speaker, and trainer. She is a leader in the new breed of fundraisers who are on the cutting edge of fundraising today. Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 30 years as a nonprofit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts.
1. Above all, focus on renewing last year’s donors.
Just consider those lovely people who made generous gifts in 2017 but who have not yet given in 2018. Why not run a report and see who they are. This is your list of “might lapse – need to renew” donors. How many people are there on the list? Then, add up all their gifts from 2017? What’s the total? That’s the number of donations that are hanging in the balance between now and the end of the year. That money is literally on the table!
These donors are the easiest of all donors to renew. They are current donors, current members of your tribe. They know you pretty well. Their attachment to you and your cause is fresh – and they’ve voted with their money that they really like you. So connecting with them and asking them to renew should be really easy. Definitely focus there, because you have the highest likelihood of success with this current donor pool.
2. Remind everyone about making gifts of appreciated stock.
My other Must-Do strategy is to remind everyone about making gifts of appreciated stock. Many people have highly appreciated stock right now, because of the run-up in the US stock market. When they make a gift of stock, they can take a deduction for the full face value of the stock. If they sold the stock, they’d have to pay capital gains taxes on it. So it’s a perfect, tax-advantaged idea to share with your donors. Just remind them not to forget gifts of stock this year-end.
John Taylor is an Advancement Services expert, educator, speaker, and consultant. He formed one of the largest Advancement-related listserves in the world, FundSvcs, now with over 3,100 subscribers. He is the founder and former President of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals and an Industry Advisor at Community Funded.
The short answer to this question – if you are reading this after mid-November – is that you are probably already too late.
The key to successful end-of-year (both calendar and fiscal) campaigns is to start early and plan earlier. An end-of-year appeal should already be in your annual solicitation plan, developed prior to the launch of the current fiscal year. Just because it is the end of the year does not mean that it should be treated any differently from a solicitation perspective. A multi-media effort is clearly called for – snail-mail, email, crowdfunding, phone, social media, etc. The only primary difference is some of the messaging. At least at the end of the year you can use a bit of the immediacy factor to encourage giving.
But a big issue I see here is an over-reliance/emphasis at the end of the calendar year on tax-deductions to the exclusion of mission/cause-related messaging. We need to remember that only 30% of US tax payers itemize! In our world, that typically would be our major gift donors – who are already being personally cultivated. Therefore, a successful end-of-year campaign should continue to use messaging that has already proven successful during the balance of the year. Mentioning a tax-deduction is totally fine – but it should not be the primary focus. I would, in fact, use segmentation to increase/decrease the tax message. More emphasis on tax-deductions for donors who have previously given $1,000 or more might be appropriate.
And timing is everything. Donors today are weary of the end of year push from ALL the nonprofit organization they have EVER supported. Gracious, some half-dozen charities I gave memorial/honoring gifts to 5-10 years ago still send me mail in late December. Those go straight to the recycle bin.
But send me an email – either before Thanksgiving or during the first 2 weeks of December – with a compelling argument for why a contribution is needed NOW, and I may very well click on the “donate now” link. Sure, go ahead and remind me about the tax deduction, but I promise you that those who itemize already know the significance of 12/31.
Meg Weber is the Executive Director of Annual Giving at Colorado State University, a Community Funded client. With over 18 years of fundraising experience, she is a frequent speaker and contributor across the higher education industry.
My top recommendations are:
- You should use opportunities in November and December, like National Philanthropy Day (Nov. 15) or the December holiday season to communicate gratitude and impact. Share the difference that gifts make to your institution. Don’t limit your communications to current or lapsed donors. Spread it around to your whole constituency base.
- Ask frequently. There is a lot of communication happening this time of year and your organization has a much better chance of standing out in the crowd if you have a strong presence in your constituents digital space.
- Get multi-channel. This is the ultimate in donor-centric solicitation. Give your donors lots of choices for making a gift, online, mail, e-mail, text, phone, whatever, have a presence so they can use the channel they prefer.
Lynne Wester strongly believes that donor relations are the key to unlocking fundraising success. Lynne and her teammates at the Donor Relations Guru Group partner with nonprofits on a variety of initiatives from developing sound strategy and vision to utilizing technology and creating meaningful donor engagement – all designed to positively affect the fundraising bottom line.
Mine would be:
1. focus on making sure your giving page is focused on the donor experience and is easy to operate.
2. make sure your thank yous are genuine, prompt and tied to the way donors give!
Julia Campbell is an author, coach, and speaker, and trains nonprofits large and small on the best ways to use digital tools to raise money and awareness for their organizations. She is the author of Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, and her blog on online fundraising and nonprofit technology is consistently featured in the list of the Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world. Find her blog and contact information at www.jcsocialmarketing.com.
1) Thank your donors first before asking again. 2) Tell stories about the impact of your work, including various viewpoints. 3) Create content – Facebook posts, videos, blogs – that address myths and stereotypes about your work, and that help to eliminate any obstacles and hesitations donors may have to giving. 4) Have a SMART goal for your year-end fundraising, rather than just saying “we want to raise money for the annual fund.” SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. 5) Leverage Facebook’s free fundraising tools to reach more donors where they spend their time – on social media.
Carol Pott is a versatile content strategist, branding, and organizational design specialist with over twenty years of strategic communications experience using a data-driven approach to developing authentic, goal-oriented, mission-centered content. She is the Senior Development Director at City of Hope.
From a content strategy perspective, the best way to increase end-of-year giving is to practice more of what you should be doing year round: telling a good story with an authentic voice. Create connection by putting a human face on donor communication. Especially at this time of year, you are missing the point if you are listing impact numbers without a compelling personal success story tied to your mission. Even better, make your ask for something tangible and make the impact clear. As Heifer International has proven so well, people are far more likely to spend $200 to purchase a goat if they can see who it benefits and know the impact of their gift. Bundle it together with other tangibles and people will buy the entire farm knowing how their donation will transform a community. During the holidays, everyone is inundated with requests and demands on time and money. For that reason, tell your story quickly and make it simple for your supporters to donate and share your request with their networks. It’s a great time to simplify donation forms or, if you are using direct mail, include a postage paid envelope.
So…the five-step plan for end-of-year giving success:
1. tell a good story
2. tie it to something tangible
3. bundle gifts for greater impact
4. make it easy to give
5. make it seamless to share
Matt Gorczyca is the Assistant Director of the Canisius Fund at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. He oversees the phonathon program and assists in all annual giving projects at the college. Recently, Matt had research published in the International Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing that focused on millennial attitudes and intentions to donate to nonprofit organizations.
For the best end of year fundraising results, I find that it boils down to the story you tell and how you focus your efforts. First, the story surrounding the “ask” must be compelling and show impact. I don’t think fundraising stories can solely rely on the warm and fuzzies that nonprofits rely on around the holiday season. The story must show impact of the donor’s gift. Having them “meet” a person whose life has potentially changed because of their gift that is great, but making the impact explicit is essential. This can be within the individual story itself or the greater impact for the organization’s mission.
The other tip that I find helps end of year results is the focus. End of year fundraising needs to be treated like its own mini-campaign. When it comes to focus, the messaging needs to be concise, yet engaging in order to capture a donor’s attention in the midst of the busiest time of the year. There also needs to be focus when it comes to the donor segments being solicited. Focusing on loyal donors who haven’t made their gift yet, as well as those lybunts and sybunts that could very easily be re-engaged with your organization should be the focus. They have the most immediate connection to the organization and will probably be the most easy to reach and engage around the chaos that is the holiday season.
With that, my last tip would be to always include ask amounts. If there is ever a time to increase a donor’s gift, end of year is it! Including ask amounts, especially in connection with an impactful and focused story, will most likely lead to a donor bumping up their typical gift amount. It is a subtle way of encouraging them to increase their giving and will help hit end of year fundraising goals.
Ann Green is a Nonprofit Communication Consultant specializing in writing, editing, planning, and strategy. Read her blog at www.anngreennonprofit.com.
One way to increase your revenue at year-end (or any time of the year) is with monthly or recurring giving. Not only can you raise more money, you get a constant stream of revenue throughout the year and you can boost your retention rate. The retention rate for monthly donors is an impressive 90%.
If you don’t already have a monthly/recurring giving program, get one set one up before your next big appeal and let your donors know about it. Mention it in your appeal letters and make it a prominent option on your donation page.
Encourage your current donors to switch to monthly giving. Send targeted appeals to donors who have given at least twice. These donors have already shown you their commitment. Let them know how much you appreciate their support and invite them to join your family of monthly donors. Show them how their $50 or $100 gift is helping you make a difference and how they can help even more with gifts of $5 or $10 a month.
Setting up a monthly giving program will take a little work upfront, but will pay off in the end if you can boost your revenue and retention rate.
Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE is an author, speaker, and trainer. Her published books include: Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops, Raising More with Less, and 50 A$ks in 50 Weeks. Check out her blog and video posts at www.amyeisenstein.com.
Focus on your top donors. Make sure your top 10% of donors have all made gifts in 2017. For those who have, call to say thank you and remind them how important their gift was. It may inspire them to give more this year, but regardless, you’ve increased your chances of getting another gift next year. For those who haven’t given yet, pick up the phone and call them too. Let them know what a valuable donor they’ve been in the past and remind them that you are hoping for their support again by year-end. Express urgency (we need to find a cure for cancer now!) but not desperation (we might not make payroll).
Lori L. Jacobwith, Founder of Ignited Fundraising™, is a fundraising culture change expert and master storyteller. With a passion for the positive, she has provided coaching and training for more than 4500 organizations and 500,000 passionate nonprofit professionals. Her work has helped nonprofits raise $300 million from individual donors…and counting.
Follow Lori: Twitter LinkedIn Facebook
Here are my top tips:
FIRST: Share the specific dollar amount for “what it takes” to serve one child, veteran, person, service dog…etc. Not what you “need” – what it takes.
SECOND: Invite supporters to choose how many they’d want to support.
THIRD: And this one is critical – Briefly explain how many people are waiting and would be helped by a gift. Be specific here. Example: $1 = 1 loaf of bread. 3 Out Of 10 children in Israel will go to bed hungry. Your gift helps provide Challos to 8,000 children in Israel this Rosh Hashana. How many children will you help feed?