12 Quick Strategies to Boost Year-End Fundraising

The biggest fundraising time of the year for most nonprofits inexorably approaches.

It can be stressful.

Don’t succumb to the stress. You’ve got this!

Perhaps you can’t do everything you’d like to do this year, but you can do some things.

Here are 12 strategies that will pack a big punch.

  • Some you can do on your own.
  • Some will require support from technical and/or marketing staff.

Don’t become discouraged thinking you don’t have the time. Sometimes you don’t have time not to do these things.

None of these suggestions are big time consumers standing alone. They’re each little tweaks. Because often it’s the little things that count. That pack a surprising wallop.

So don’t save all your energy for writing your appeal. Help your appeal along by putting some of the dozen suggestions that follow into effect.

Even just one or two will make a difference.

Let’s get started…

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Use Behavioral Science to Positively Frame Year-End Philanthropy

Are you framing your ask as an “annual appeal” or as “we only ask once a year?”

It matters, because people will account for how much they spend on usual annual giving differently than how much they’ll spend for exceptional, one-time occurrences.

A growing body of research in psychology and behavioral economics shows how you frame your ask can have a big difference in your fundraising results. Much of this has to do with how people mentally account for consumer ‘purchases’  — including charitable giving.

Researchers have found people don’t treat their money, time, effort or other resources as if they have one big pool of it. Rather, people have separate mental accounts.

When we spend resources we keep track of each expenditure based on the mental account it came from.

This has significant fundraising implications, so it’s important to delve further into this mental accounting principle. Especially this year, when you can legitimately frame your work as a response to exceptional times.

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#GivingTuesday in Reverse: Do’s and Don’ts

headstand kidI’ve written in the past about why I like to turn the tables on #GivingTuesday by actually giving to your donors, rather than asking them to give again — yet one more time — during this busiest fundraising time of the year.

I’m not suggesting you not ask multiple times at the end of the year. You should. You must! However…

Your asks should flow together as a coordinated campaign.  And you should do whatever you can to really stand out in your donor’s inbox.

The problem with #GivingTuesday?

Everybody and their dog is asking on this particular day. 

There’s so much competition, you’re not likely to bring in many new donors.

For the most part, you’ll be preaching to the choir. The choir that already sings your song. That already loves you. That already gives to you.  At best you’ll be eeking out a small additional gift from them.  Or you may just secure their annual gift on this particular day; so… no net gain.  At worst you’ll tick them off by asking them to give, yet again, without showing them enough well-deserved gratitude.

There’s a time and a place for everything. 

And, as I often say, if you want gifts you must give them!   Which is why giving gratitude to donors is such a powerful thing to do.  Another way to understand the meaning of “Giving” Tuesday.

Sometimes Nonprofits Try Turning Things on Their Head But Don’t Quite Succeed

Today, I want to evaluate an example

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Happy Days of Thanks(for)Giving

Thankful for ThanksgivingThis Thursday folks in the United States will celebrate what I consider to be the social benefit sector holiday of the year:

So it’s time for my annual Thanks(for)Giving post!

Just think about what ‘Thanksgiving’ means.  Literally, it’s a day for giving thanks for blessings.

Who, and what, do you count among yours?

I know when we go around the table at my family Thanksgivings, saying what we’re grateful for this year, most folks respond with a people-based answer. Sure, they’re happy about the feast in front of them. But they’re most grateful for caring friends… loving family…. and for being together sharing the warmth of good company. This year the company may be virtual, but the gratitude for shared connection will be the same.

Who are you grateful to at your organization?

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6 Strategies to Upgrade Nonprofit Donors Using Suggested Gifts

Street art: "Doing the right thing isn't always easy."I’m a fan of suggested ask amounts.

As you put the finishing touches on your year-end appeals, don’t make donors guess how much you need, or what you expect from them.

Clue people in. It’s the right thing to do.

If what you’re currently planning is some version of “please give whatever you can” or “please consider increasing your gift,” I encourage you to rethink your plan. Those phrases are vague.  And vague requests yield token gifts. Or no gifts at all.

The best requests for money are for a specific purpose and a specific amount.

As in “Dad, I need $250 to buy school books.” Or “Grandma, I need $5,000 to buy a used car.” Or see the philanthropic ask examples from Oxfam and Charity: water below:

Oxfam Donation Landing Page

Charity water ask string

When you don’t give folks anchor amounts to hang onto, they’re apt to put your appeal aside for some time when they’ve more time to think about it.

More often than not, that ‘some time’ never happens.

So give folks an anchor of some sort, unless you want folks to stop dead in their tracks trying to figure out the right amount.

  • No one wants to feel ungenerous by giving less than is considered helpful.

  • No one wants to be a ‘chump’ by giving more than you need, or more than others like them are giving.

  • While some donors upgrade their giving without being asked, most donors wait to be asked – or at least to be offered a darn good reason to give more.

Research tells us donors will give more, on average, when they’re prompted with specific amounts. They’ll give even more when offered a choice of giving levels (download Sustainers in Focus by Blackbaud).  But you have to do it the right way.

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Magic Wand to Wave to Keep Nonprofit Donors Close Virtually

It’s a scary world out there.

Is there a magic wand you can wave to keep your donors close while living in a socially distanced world?

Getting up close and personal with donors has always been the gold standard killer strategy for generating passionate gifts and keeping donors loyal.  But we didn’t take the term “killer” literally!

Today it’s simply too dangerous for folks to leave home.

So… what can you do instead? Plenty!

Thanks not only to digital technology, but also to familiar tools like the telephone and snail mail, it can be pretty easy to stay attuned and in touch even when practicing social distancing.

Your ‘donor love’ wand still has an abundance of fundraising and donor stewardship magic in it, if you just think a bit creatively. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite ‘wand wave’ tricks for end-of-year fundraising season. Depending on who you connect with, and how you tweak your message, they work to:

  1. Acquire new donors
  2. Retain existing donors
  3. Upgrade existing donors

Consider your goals first. Then pick from among these strategies.

Even if you just do one of these things between now and the end of the year, you’ll boost your fundraising results.

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How to Help Donors Give Astutely Before Year-End

I’ve written about some of the new charitable deduction opportunities included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed on March 27, 2020 before. But a recent post shared by Greg Warner of Market Smart — Dr. Russell James’ tips to help donors give wisely before this year ends — plus a recent conversation with a financial advisor, reminded me it’s a very good time to share with you again.

You see, there are several things that will impact donor deductions – THIS YEAR ONLY. It’s good for you to be aware of these as a fundraiser, because making your supporters mindful of these opportunities may lead to them making more, and larger, gifts to your organization.

Of course, you’re not in the business of offering legal, tax or financial advice.  And it’s easier to tell yourself donors’ own advisors will likely tell them about these new provisions. And that “this isn’t really your responsibility.” Yet…

Not all of your donors have their own accountants or financial advisors.

And not all tax advisors are up to snuff, especially when it comes to charitable deductions. Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you’re too lazy to share this useful information?

The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator

Sorry about using that “L” word, but too many fundraisers (IMHO) don’t 100% understand their job as a philanthropy facilitator. Do you?

Your job is to do everything within your power to make giving easy, joyful and meaningful for your supporters. Everything. Doing everything means

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Warning Sign: A Post-Trump Digital Divide Between Nonprofits?

Believe it or not, this guest post appeared originally on my blog 3 1/2 years ago. I happened on it today, and thought it was still appropriate so wanted to share. One of my Clairification School students, Matt Patchell, had begun an important discussion in our online Subscriber Forum about what he termed the current “digital divide.”

He was referring to the chasm between nonprofits who are facing the digital revolution head-on, adapting their strategies to embrace its’ opportunities, vs. those sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it will go away.

Folks, digital engagement is not going away. Rather, it’s exploding.

As of late last year, one study found 43% of U.S. adults get political news online, rather than via television, radio or print media. A report from the Pew Research Center found one in five Americans get their news from Facebook. For the first time in the Center’s surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans age 50 or older report getting news on social media sites. That is 10 percentage points higher than the 45% who said so in the previous year. And that report is now three years old!

If you continue to ignore the channels your supporters frequent, and the ways they prefer to receive their information, the only thing that will be going bye-bye are your supporters.

What digital means for nonprofits.

It’s a sea change in how your marketing and fundraising team(s) operate and cooperate. Adopting is a far cry from adapting.

What does this have to do with Trump?

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6 Strategies to Convey Your Most Emotional Fundraising Appeal Story

2020-10-11 14.40.58People are wired for stories.

We use them to understand our world.

But do the same stories work in any time? For any person? No.

You need to understand your SMIT story – ‘Single Most Important Thing’ – at this moment in time.

And that SMIT will change, depending on the environment in which you’re operating.

You need to know your audience. Today. The story you told last year may not work as well this year.

  • The story must be relevant to the donor – which will depend on what is top of mind for them.
  • And the need to give the story a happy ending must feel urgent.

Relevancy and urgency are the key to emotional appeals.

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