10 Steps to a Successful Year-End Giving Campaign
As we approach the end of the year, it’s again that time when nonprofits seek to meet their fundraising goals and leverage some of the most popular giving periods of the year.
Year-end giving campaigns are often some of your most critical. Around 35% of all giving happens in the last three months of the year, with just over 20% gifted in December when people give donations as holiday gifts and look to maximize their tax benefits.
Then there’s Giving Tuesday. Falling every November on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, this is the most popular single day of the year for donations.
The time to plan your strategies for Giving Tuesday and year-end giving campaigns is now. It’s crucial that nonprofits get ahead and plan to attract new donors and then nurture and steward those donors so that they stick around for the long-term.
Here are ten steps to a successful year-end giving campaign:
1. Start planning your year-end campaign
The first step is to start planning your year-end campaigns early. Most nonprofits start planning by October as it helps to stay on top of what is needed and avoid their team having a stressful rush.
You need an appropriate amount of time to plan for the tools and resources that you’ll need to accomplish your planned activities. For example, you might need tools for:
- Selling tickets or taking orders
- Text and email marketing
- Gift matching programs
- Online donation portal
- Print materials
2. Evaluate your last year-end giving campaign
You’ve already got an important resource to help you with planning this year’s campaign – data from last year’s. Take the time to review how last year’s campaign went and how to improve your efforts in the present. These questions can help you to reflect:
- How did last year’s campaign go overall?
- How much was raised across how many contributions?
- Who were your contributors? Were there different segments?
- How much did you spend on the campaign?
- What went well? What didn’t go so well?
- What strategies got you the most engagement from supporters?
#3. Set your SMART annual goals
Goal setting is a key early step for any fundraising campaign. SMART goals are useful for giving clarity, tracking progress, and helping team members stay on track. SMART goals are:
- Specific – The goal deals with a specific area of performance or KPI.
- Measurable – The goal is easily measured, rather than being subjective.
- Attainable – The goal should be ambitious, yet still be possible to attain.
- Relevant – The goal should be connected to your overall mission.
- Time-bound – The goal should have a clear deadline.
4. Define your audience and segments
It’s important to clearly define your audience, including your existing supporters, and any new groups of donors you’d like to attract. This helps you to be more purposeful with how you reach out to those people.
Create donor segments
Segments are groups of people that share some common traits. Some basic segments might include high-value donors, monthly donors, and people who attended your gala. Clear segments help you to present the right messaging to the right people, at the right time. It adds a more personalized approach to your communications.
Identify target donors
You may be able to identify some specific target donors. For example, you might use iWave to find high-value potential donors who have the ability and known affinity for your cause. It’s helpful to make a list of identified target donors so that your team can research, and reach out to them with personalized communication.
5. Devise campaign ideas and identify your channels
Now that you’ve defined the audiences you’d like to reach, it’s easier to narrow down campaign ideas. Start with your audience and answer questions such as:
- What sorts of fundraising campaigns appeal to them?
- How will you reach those people?
It’s also important to consider your budget and the resources available. Some campaigns have much higher costs than others, and you may not have the resources to pull them off.
For example, any sort of event involving securing a location, hiring catering, print advertising, and more, will always cost more than a digital campaign. They also require more people power to run successfully.
Theme and messaging
The idea of a campaign theme is to tie everything together, especially if you have multiple strategies in play. Your theme dictates the narrative that will be in play for any of your fundraising campaigns.
What stories do you want to tell? What sort of message is going to reach your target audience and have an impact? Messaging should be succinct and clear, yet make an emotional impact so that people feel moved to donate.
Where possible, personalize your messaging to donors. The most impactful messages are highly relevant to the person.
Channels to utilize
What channels will you use to reach your audience? Here are some examples to consider:
- Direct mail
- Fundraising event
- Your website
- Organic social media content
- Paid social media ads and/or Google ads
- Paid media placements
- Personal outreach to potential donors (for example, phone calls)
6. Assemble your team
Every successful campaign starts with forming a “dream team”. Tap into colleagues who will help run with and amplify your campaign!
Who do you need on your campaign team and what tasks do you need them to take care of? Some examples include:
- Technology setup for any tools you need in place
- Marketing, including preparing and distributing any marketing materials
- Fundraising – this might include direct, personal outreach to potential donors
- Hosts and event volunteers
- Liaison for any companies setting up gift matching
- Event sponsorship
- Donor liaisons (duties might include things like thanking donors)
7. Create a timeline
A timeline for your year-end giving campaign activities helps you to ensure everything is on track to make the most of the busy season. For example, if you need printed materials, what is the turnaround on those? When do you need to order?
Plan around Giving Tuesday, and the fact that most giving happens in the final few days of December. A tool, such as a project management software, can help you to record all tasks, the essential due dates, and who is responsible for them. This also helps to provide transparency over roles and responsibilities.
8. Set up your campaigns
Campaign channels should be set up to be an appropriate choice for the target audience. Some examples include:
Incorporate text fundraising
Text messaging can be an effective channel as texts have a 99% open rate. Text users are found across all age groups, although those under 55 are the biggest users. You might consider your donor demographics and preferences before engaging text. For example, it could be a good channel to encourage mass amounts of smaller donations or to get people to sign up to donate monthly.
Host an event
Events are more expensive and time-consuming than digital or direct mail campaigns. Again, you’d want to consider your event audience. What sorts of events are they likely to want to participate in?
It’s also important to consider if your audience would prefer an in person event, online events, or a hybrid model? Including hybrid options may increase your events attendance, strictly in person may
Create a recurring giving campaign
Recurring giving campaigns can be a great, low-barrier way to get new donors onboard. Typically, recurring giving can be any amount, starting quite small, each month. Giving Tuesday can be a good time to promote recurring giving among a large audience. Year-end givers tend to have different motivations (maximizing tax deductions), so are more likely to donate a lump sum.
Use social media
Who among your audience is on social media? What channels do they use? Social media gives you a great platform to reach a wide audience, but you should be targeted about how you use it.
Show the impact your donors are having
People love to know how their donations are making an impact. This not only helps to draw in new donors but keeps current donors coming back. There should always be a place in your campaigns to show donor impact. (For example; “we’ve been able to build 100 new low-income homes thanks to your donations this year.”)
9. Follow through
Your messaging won’t be effective if you take a “one and done” approach. When it comes to things like email, text, or even direct mail, donors often need a reminder to go through with making a donation. People are busy and hammered with information from all avenues making it important to include a specific call to action with every message and send more than one.
10. Finish your campaigns
As your campaign ends, there’s still some work to be done to help ensure future success. Key tasks include:
Say thank you
All donors should be thanked each time they donate. In fact, not being thanked ranks highly as a reason why donors don’t return. Make sure you have a plan for thanking everyone as soon as possible (they should be thanked very quickly after donating).
Share the impact of the campaign
Let your donors know that their help matters! How did their donations make an impact on your mission? Even if the actual work resulting from the donation hasn’t happened yet, you can always share how you plan on using donations. “Your donations will enable us to add a new enclosure at the sanctuary to house and rehabilitate injured seabirds.”
Measure and analyze
Gather data and measure your results. Are they as you expected? What notes can you make to inform future campaigns? Each campaign offers a unique opportunity to gather insights, so make sure you use them!
The ten steps outlined here will help you to successfully embark on a year-end giving campaign. It’s an important time of year for nonprofits to leverage, so it’s critical to be prepared.
Need help gathering reliable donor intelligence to hone your campaigns? That’s where iWave comes in. Our screening and prospecting solutions help you to identify the right donors for your year-end, and any other fundraising campaigns. Request your demo here.
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