The major giving season of ever year is literally upon us. November and December often provide a majority of the funds raised for nonprofits from individuals annually. You do not want to miss out!
Some fundraisers have been planning for this since the end of last year’s giving season. Don’t panic if you are not one of them; you can still salvage a success with some last-minute activity. Here are six ways to get started:
1) Segment your appeals
If you haven't yet sent out your year-end appeal, take some extra time to segment each appeal. This will depend on the capabilities and cleanliness of your donor database, as well as your familiarity with it.
Do whatever you can to make sure that you aren't sending the same appeal to letter to everyone in your database! At a minimum, segment by gift size (at/below and above average gift size) and gift frequency (new vs. repeat donor).
If you want to get even more detailed, you can segment by fund, campaign, transaction type and any demographic data that you find pertinent.
2) Personalize as much as you can
In conjunction with the basic segmentation above, personalize as much as you can for each segment. Some key areas to consider:
- Full name and salutation
- Reference to projects aligned with the donor’s interest
- Personalized P.S. at bottom of letters (bonus if it's hand-written)
- Detailed "thank you" for previous gifts
- Different text for each segment
- Dedicated landing pages and URLs as a call-to-action for each segment (especially in online/email appeals)
If you cannot do this for every segment, strongly consider it for first-time donors who have above-average gift sizes.
3) Use #GivingTuesday to jump-start your year-end giving
A successful #GivingTuesday can establish a lot of momentum for your team with regards to year-end appeals. It can also be a fun and an excellent way to attract new donors without the time and expense of a special event.
However, #GivingTuesday donations don't just happen on their own. You'll need a plan in order to be successful.
4) Don’t forget your existing and future major donors
Don't be afraid to lean on existing major gift donors for a little year-end boost. Be sure to reach out in person via the phone or appointment. Such personal treatment with a specific project or amount to discuss can and should result in a much larger gift or pledge.
Many of your larger potential prospects and donors deeply appreciate such extra care and it is often the foundation of long-term relationships being built. It is also an excellent way to differentiate your nonprofit from others.
5) Enlist the help of volunteers
Assisting with year-end appeal and thank you activities is an excellent use of most volunteers. Those volunteer efforts can range from basic envelope addressing and stuffing to writing complete handwritten appeals to writing thank you notes.
Such activities can be quite rewarding for the volunteers and truly be a lifesaver for your efforts when there are just not enough hands available with your staff.
6) Make sure you have 100% giving from your board and staff
This final step may not require any effort if the giving from these extremely key constituents is already complete.
(Hint, begin this endeavor early next year.)
These two groups can add a great deal to your giving season results and are sometimes overlooked by smaller emerging nonprofits. Please let both groups know how important it is to the outside world for you to say there is 100% commitment by them, especially board members.
Bonus! Segment your acknowledgements
Remember, your job isn't done on Jan. 1! In the same way that you segment your appeals, your acknowledgements should also be segmented.
Here, add an extra layer for gift channel (online, direct mail, #GivingTuesday, etc.). Be sure to acknowledge how they gave, not just what they gave!
So, now you have six steps you can execute in some manner in short order. Just as important, you have the basic tenants of next year’s plan you can expand upon for even greater results.
I wish you only the best in funding your mission to the highest level possible in this year-end giving season.
How do you prepare for year-end giving? Let me know in the comments below!
The preceding is a guest post by Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage, and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world. A veteran of the nonprofit technology sector, Jay is a founding member of the AFP Business Member Council and chair of the AFP Ethics Committee.