There are many reasons to love December: the feasts, the gifts, the time with family. But for nonprofits, there is one more! December is by far the most popular time of year for charitable giving. In fact, nearly one-third of annual giving occurs in the chilly month. In 2020, this equated to almost $155 billion—a 5% increase over 2019! Naturally, every nonprofit wants their share of the holiday pie. So we’ve assembled the following list of helpful tips to optimize year-end donations.
- Making a List, Checking it Twice: You can’t pull off holiday gift shopping or Christmas dinner without some real planning. Well, the same is true for end-of-year fundraising! While planning should ideally begin in late summer/early fall, it is never too late to strategize and set goals. Ask yourself questions like: which donors are you targeting? What type of donations would you like to receive? How much do you hope to raise (in terms of a dollar amount, or percentage increase over previous periods)? In the end, a little planning can go a long way.
- O Come, All Ye Faithful: In your year-end fundraising plan, target donors should include existing supporters—the “old faithful.” But before you reach out, take some time to carefully review your donor roll. Ensure that the data is current, clean, and complete. After all, misspelled names or incorrect addresses can lead to major missed opportunities.
- Deck the Halls: This winter, don’t let your message get buried in the flurry of year-end communications. Dress it up with eye-catching fonts, high-quality photos, captivating videos, and a compelling or urgent subject line (e.g. “Last day for matching donations!”). Furthermore, try to integrate a personal story about one of your beneficiaries. Putting a name and face to a cause will help propel your donors to answer your ask for additional help.
- Sending a letter to Santa Claus: We know how to reach Santa, but what about your supporters? Paper mail-outs and email communications are obvious methods. But for the best chance of success, supplement them with texts to mobile phones, pop-ups on your website, and social media posts. Your nonprofit may even want to invest in paid social media content to boost exposure. Also, remember the power of peer-to-peer fundraising. Encourage your supporters to spread the word to friends and family by forwarding emails, liking or re-tweeting posts, or endorsing your nonprofit during holiday gatherings. Finally, leverage local media! Ask neighborhood newspapers or radio stations to promote your fundraising campaigns.
- A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Like gift giving, there is no “one size fits all” approach to appeal to supporters. Thus, if resources allow, nonprofits should tailor their message, communication method, and contact frequency to different segments of the donor base. Segmentation can be based on numerous factors, e.g. demographics, interests, average donation size, date of last donation, level of engagement, etc. For example, for Generation Z donors, nonprofits may want to focus on social media and online fundraising efforts. For high income donors, nonprofits may want to increase their asks.
- Rocking Around the Christmas Tree: It has been another year of restricted gatherings and social distancing, with impacts on giving. But if your city or state is starting to relax Covid-19 protocols, consider hosting an actual in-person fundraising event, like a holiday dance or Christmas market. Such events are often well attended and financially successful, particularly if event details are shared with supporters early. They are also a perfect opportunity for more engagement and communication with donors — in the flesh!
With this advice, and December just around the corner, it is time to kick off your year-end fundraising efforts! Why not begin with a call-out for donations on #GivingTuesday (November 30th), a day dedicated to global philanthropy? For more ideas and guidance, please contact email@example.com.