By now, you probably have seen Christmas decorations starting to appear in stores. It seems the holiday season arrives earlier each year! The reason for this is November and December are the two biggest months of the year in sales for businesses and crucial for the bottom line.
But did you know that all nonprofits raise up to 40% of their donations in the last six weeks of the year? How is your organization gearing up to maximize its year-end fundraising goals?
To help you raise more money this year than in the past, start with these simple, proven steps:
STEP 1: PREPARE AND PLAN
I am reminded of the quote which says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” What you do leading up to your fundraising push is a major factor in the success of your year-end campaign. This step is crucial and cannot be overlooked.
Create a fundraising activity calendar outlining all of the efforts you want to execute as you move forward to December 31. This activity calendar should show when emails should be sent, the date to send the direct mail letters to donors, when to launch the social media giving campaign, the date to place the year-end giving banners on your website’s homepage, etc.
Be sure to put on your calendar – Giving Tuesday – which is December 1 this year. It’s a global day dedicated to giving back and celebrating generosity.
Share this fundraising activity calendar with the departments in your organization that you will need help from to execute the plan. They would greatly appreciate the communication so they know what is expected from them and when. Also, it will allow others to provide input and suggestions that could enhance the plan. The activity calendar gets everyone on the same page and focused on the goal of maximizing the fundraising efforts of the organization.
STEP 2: TELL A COMPELLING STORY
You need to tell your donors the work you are doing is relevant and important to them and why they should care. Donors will be asked by other organizations to support their causes the same time you are, so you need to tell a compelling story that will resonate with them. If you can incorporate pictures, even better! It’s true that a picture really is worth a thousand words, because an image is able to paint a picture for the donor to connect with.
Often organizations ask donors to help them finish the year strong or end the year in the black. That’s definitely not going to cut it. You need to share with your donor how their gift will make a difference in the lives of people you serve. One of the strongest motivators to give is sharing a real-life testimony of a changed life as a result of your organization’s work.
STEP 3: ASK, ASK, ASK
During this time of year people are distracted with shopping, Christmas parties, traveling, and more shopping, so plan to ask multiple times to help cut through the clutter. You should plan to ask early and to ask often! This should be reflected in your fundraising activity calendar we spoke about in Step 1.
Schedule a series of communications throughout these last several weeks of the year, each communication echoing the one before until the donor responds with a gift. It is important to clearly state what you want your donor to do – TO GIVE! Don’t beat around the bush, be concise and clear with your ask.
STEP 4: USE ALL OF YOUR CHANNELS
Utilize every communication channel you are using to speak with your donors or potential donors.
Ask on Facebook and Twitter
Ask through the mail and email
Ask through your website
Ask through the phone
Before you start your fundraising efforts, be sure all of these giving points are working properly and are very easy to use. You want to reduce any “friction points” through the process where a donor could potentially give up because you are requiring too much information to be entered or too many clicks to give the gift. Test these giving points yourself to ensure they work and are easy!
STEP 5: SAY THANK YOU!
The power of saying “thank you” cannot be overstated. Affirming a donor’s gift will nurture the relationship and position the donor to give again to your organization in the future.
Resolve to say “thank you” multiple times – on the screen immediately after the donor gives online, through an email receipt, and when you send a letter in the mail. The thank you letter should not look like a receipt of a transaction, but a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the donor’s gift and restating how the gift will be used to accomplish the mission of the organization.
There’s more that I can share, but implement these five steps and prepare to see your year-end fundraising efforts soar!