After a spring and summer that seemed to drag on forever, we have finally reached fall 2020! This is welcome news for nonprofits. After all, individuals and organizations often donate generously in the final months of the year, particularly on holidays and #GivingTuesday. (In fact, nearly 1/3 of all annual giving occurs in December alone!)
Given this reality, now is the ideal time for nonprofits to plan their year-end fundraising. Some nonprofits (7.7%) even make their initial year-end appeal in September! Here’s how to get started:
1. Set Goals and Priorities
To know how to best direct your time and resources during the fall/winter season, prepare a list of specific and realistic fundraising goals. These goals can include qualitative goals, like “improve follow-up after donations”. But they should also include quantitative goals, such as raising $X of funds during a particular campaign or period.
To inform the latter, consider your annual donations to date, total donations from the previous year, and external factors that could impact giving (e.g. the economic climate).
2. Develop a Game Plan
You have your goals, now how will you attain them? Among other things, you need to know: who to target, how to reach them, the type and amount of donations to seek, which campaigns/events to run, overall messaging, etc.
This is a vital step, so don’t try to tackle it on your own! Consult with team members about what has—and has not—worked for your organization in the past. Research initiatives by other, similar, nonprofits for any lessons learned. And, if resources permit, survey your supporters for crucial feedback about “your fundraising efforts, marketing, the experience of donating, and what they’d like to see."
If surveying supporters isn't in your field of expertise, market research companies like Op4G are always here to help!
3. Get Organized and Assign Tasks
Once you have a plan in place, you’ll be eager to get going. But not so fast! To ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, create a master fundraising calendar with “all of your important fundraising dates and deadlines." Be sure to include key interim steps, such as “draft, revise, and format email appeal” (as opposed to just “send email appeal”). Also, use labels or specific colors to indicate priority levels.
Last but not least, assign team members to each calendar entry based on their skills, experience, and interests. Remember to engage your board members and volunteers—they are there to help!
For more ideas on how to set up a fundraising calendar (including a downloadable template), check out this Fundraising Planning Guide from CauseVox.
When the time comes to make your fundraising appeal, keep a few things in mind. First, be creative! Shake up campaigns with videos, contests, celebrity endorsements etc. to spark and maintain donor interest.
One of our partners, Guide Dogs of America, got creative with a recent virtual fundraiser by hosting a 'PAWSitivity' Photo Calendar Contest. This contest allowed supporters to enter their own pup's photo to be featured in their 2021 calendar, along with voting for their favorite photos for a small donation fee.
Another way to resonate with supporters is to simply tell a story! Explain how your charity impacted a specific beneficiary to make your work more tangible to donors. Don’t forget to weave in quotes, high quality photos, or even videos. Third, customize your asks! Segment your donors (based on their interests, frequency of giving, date of last gift, average gift size etc.) and tailor your communications accordingly.
5. Upgrade the Donation Process
You’ve done it – you have convinced your supporters to give! At this point, the one thing that can jeopardize your success is the donation process. So make it is as user-friendly as possible! Use big, clear font and a conspicuous “donate” button. Ensure that your website is fully functional and mobile compatible. Minimize the steps and information your donor must provide. Finally, for the truly tech savvy nonprofit, incorporate QR codes and a “text-to-give” option.
Our partner, Girls Inc., has a pop-up window to donate right on their website's home page
Now that you have a guide for year-end fundraising, what are you waiting for? Start now and watch your donations soar! For additional help, or to become an Op4G nonprofit partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.