It’s here, it’s here!
That giving time of year!
My dear, don’t fear!
It’s time to get in gear!
Good cheer, get clear,
As the year-end draws near…
Bad poetry aside, it really is the time to get all your ducks in a row so you don’t miss out on this time of year when many charities will receive as much as 40% of their entire annual campaign goal.
So I’ve got 13 tips to give your year-end fundraising a shot in the arm!
Did you know that one study reports a full third (33%) of December gifts occur on the 31st of the month?
Another study found 38% of those who donate to charity are more likely to do so during the holiday season.
I want to make sure you don’t miss a trick this year. [At least put this aside for next year if you’re too stressed out now!]
There’s lots of competition for your donors’ dollars, so you’ve got to focus on what will make your donors sit up and take notice. If you do, you can really make an impact on your bottom line.
13 Smart Year-End Fundraising Strategies
- Plan a multi-channel campaign. Maximize your chances that prospective donors will see your appeal. People today are more (or less) responsive depending on the way you connect with them.
- Use a consistent theme across all channels. This way your integrated messages reinforce each other. I get your email or tweet and am reminded I meant to send a check when I got your letter.
- Make sure your envelope gets opened. Stay away from anything that smacks of ‘junk mail.’ Consider one or more of the following: A pretty color; Teaser; Handwritten address; Plain/no logo/mysterious; Live stamp or metered (vs. pre-printed indicia).
- Make your email subject line stand out. Check out some perfect holiday email subject lines here. If you happen to use MailChimp they have a free tool to test the strength of your subject line. They also researched words that will negatively affect your open rates – and you may be surprised. Two of them are: ‘Help’ and ‘Reminder’.
- Avoid lengthy email subject lines. The general email marketing rule is to keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer. If your subscribers are highly targeted, your readers may appreciate a little extra information in the subject line.
- Send multiple email reminders. I recommend at least five email touches in December (one can be in your e-news) with two of them at minimum the last three days of the year( when 10% of all annual giving happens). Don’t forget: email is the primary source of online donations.
- Craft a killer opening line for your appeal. You only have a few seconds to capture your reader’s attention, so arouse interest right at the start. These are two of my favorite strategies: (1) those that tell a story (e.g., “Yesterday, 8-year-old Tommy found his mother collapsed on the floor”), and (2) those that are about the donor (e.g., “I know you care about…”). The former make your reader want to help; the latter make your donor feel good about helping.
- Use “you” a lot. Again, this makes it about the donor. It becomes personal. Much better than “we do this” and “our organization does that.” Any place you’re tempted to say “our” or “name of organization” or “we” (unless it’s “we, together”), don’t.
- Include a compelling story about one person, place or thing. Avoid dry recitations of facts. People are wired for stories. There’s plenty of research showing you’ll get larger gifts if you simply tell a story about one person. Why? It’s more credible and doable for your donor than trying to save 86,000 lives. For inspiration, see what Seth Godin has to say about nonprofit stories.
- Assure your ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) is clear. Make it easy for your reader to understand what and why you’re asking. And have only one CTA. If you include too many things to do folks will tend to do nothing. Or put your appeal aside for later – which never comes.
- Don’t forget the P.S. More people read this first than any other part of the letter. Don’t waste it. Put something important or new in it (e.g., if you respond by December 31st your gift will be doubled!).
- Use compelling visuals. Add a photo, ideally of one person donors can help, to your mail or email appeal. Also use visuals on social media. Folks pay more attention on social networks if you include donation impact graphics. The ideal size for Facebook/Pinterest/Google+ graphics is 500 x 500 pixels. The size necessary for Twitter is 500 x 250 pixels. And don’t forget visuals in your thank you’s. Create short “Thank you” videos from your team that you can share in real time, perhaps on Twitter if your donor has an account. Or link to videos on your Thank You Landing Page.
- Include urgency. You must persuade your donor to act now. It may be too late to get a challenge grant now (my absolute favorite way to instill urgency), but even informing your readers that this is a “special year-end appeal” adds some sense this is pressing and prompts people to act.
Remember, whatever you’re doing this late in the year — online or offline — these are your primary purposes: (1) Get it open; (2) Get it read; (3) Get the donation.
REMINDER TO SUBSCRIBERS:
You have until midnight December 31st to get in on my crazy subscriber advance price for my upcoming Winning Major Gifts Strategies e-course — it’s more than 50% off the regular price (just $137 instead of $287)! If you’re not a subscriber yet, please become one by subscribing below. I offer a ton of free, useful information — my way of giving back. And you’ll get a free gift!
Images courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net.
Claire, you consistently remind me of the proven basic facts of fundraising!! Thank you!! And I consistently share them with our Fund Builders Alliance team and with the newbie fundraisers I am mentoring….always giving you the credit. So just wanted to say thanks….and Happy Holidays to you, ma’am!
Thanks so much Margie. It’s nice to be paying it forward. 🙂
Let me know if I can ever be helpful to you or someone on your team.
All the best,