Whether you’re a small nonprofit new to end-of-year fundraising or the impact of the pandemic has left your organization understaffed and behind in planning, now is a critical time to ramp up your efforts. Half of all nonprofits receive a majority of their annual donations during the last three months of the year – with 31% of those donations happening in December according to Network for Good.
With only a month to go, what’s the bare minimum your nonprofit should do to make the most of the giving season? Luckily, digital campaigns offer flexibility. Email and social media allow you to easily reach current and prospective donors on a variety of platforms regardless of budget. Digital campaigns see larger spikes in December than direct mail or other types of campaigns: 19% of online giving happens in December.
Here are 10 tips to help boost year-end online fundraising success:
- Make sure your website is ready. Is your donation form updated and functional? Are there fundraising calls to action on your website in the form of banners, pop-ups (lightboxes), or buttons? Do you have a specific, urgent fundraising ask or goal? If not, now is the time to tune things up.
- Set a fundraising goal. For any fundraising campaign, it’s important to set a goal. Setting a goal not only allows you to measure the success of the campaign, it’s also a key way to motivate donors.
- Personalize your communications. Most nonprofits already have a good sense of audience segmentation: current donors, lapsed donors, prospective donors, etc. Tailoring messaging to each audience is best practice and is more likely to result in gifts than a generic blast to your entire list.
- Try to secure a matching gift to incentivize donors. Another easy way to raise more money is to secure a matching gift. You can even reach out to a major donor and ask them if you can market a recent gift as an end-of-year match. 1 in 3 donors is more likely to increase their gift amount if a match is offered, so securing one is a major win.
- Create a specific, optimized landing page for year-end giving. Visitors who are directed to a landing page are 10 times more likely to give than visitors who start on a home page. Make sure your landing page has a compelling image, a clear call-to-action, and a simple, easy to fill in form. If you have time and resources, consider creating and testing multiple versions of your landing page to match each audience receiving your appeal.
- Test different ask strings. It might not seem intuitive to conduct tests during such an important time of year, but you may actually get more meaningful results due to an influx of holiday traffic (and, therefore, a larger testing sample). You can test curated ask strings for each audience segment on targeted landing pages. For example, appeal to non-donors with low asks (starting at $10) and one-time donors with higher ask strings (starting at $50).
- Plan to send five emails in December, including a cultivation email that doesn’t contain a fundraising ask:
- A holiday greeting or cultivation email to make connections with and express gratitude for your supporters.
- Your primary year-end appeal during the last week of the year to share your fundraising goal and any matching gift.
- At least 3 additional emails between December 26th and the 31st. This should include a final, urgent reminder to give on the morning of December 31st letting supporters know that it’s not too late to make a tax-deductible donation. You can then follow up in the evening to compel them to give before midnight.
- Have a strong year-end appeal. 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the calendar year. Save your most compelling, emotionally impactful stories and messages for this email.
- Share your campaign on social media. Since not everyone will get or open your emails, organic social media is a great way to boost your organization’s visibility and attract new supporters. Throughout the month, share compelling impact stories and progress toward your fundraising goals. Posts should be accompanied by clear calls to action and links to your landing pages. Using social media tools for nonprofits such as Facebook fundraisers or the Instagram donation sticker can result in additional revenue.
- Test paid social media with a small budget. Facebook Ads can be a great platform if you’re just starting with paid social. It’s easy to target desired demographics and spending as little as $5-10 a day can still result in gifts. With Facebook’s current restrictions around ads mentioning social causes and political issues, your best bet is a general appeal that mentions your mission and any matching gifts.
The bottom line: it’s never too late to jump into end-of-year fundraising. Don’t miss out on this opportunity by thinking you have to wait for the perfect strategy, branding, or content to reach out to your supporters. People want to give generously at this time of year, and any mistakes you make along the way will provide invaluable lessons for future fundraising campaigns.
Looking for support with digital fundraising? Please reach out to our Account Director of Digital Marketing, Adelie, at firstname.lastname@example.org.