By Jen Frazier, President at Firefly Partners – a women-owned, LGBTQ+ certified, and minority-owned digital marketing agency that develops accessible online experiences that empower progressive organizations to thrive.
The end of the year is a critical time for nonprofit fundraising. According to DonorBox nearly one-third of all annual gifts come in December, and nearly half of all online donations come in the last week of the year. A well-crafted year-end fundraising plan helps nonprofits define clear and specific fundraising goals, identify potential donors, and tailor their messaging better to resonate with their supporters.
Here are important factors that nonprofits should consider when developing year-end campaigns, which, if executed successfully, will further their missions and make a profound impact on the communities they serve.
1) Multi-Channel Strategy
Employing a multi-channel strategy helps nonprofits reach a wider audience with their year-end campaign. Online channels (email, social media, website, donation forms, and texting) encourage real-time interactions, personalized messaging, and taps into tech-savvy younger donors. Traditional methods, like direct mail, are still important for reaching older or less tech-oriented supporters. Coordinating these channels cohesively – for example, telling one community member’s personal story over email, social media, and direct mail – promotes consistent messaging that reinforces the nonprofit’s brand in the supporter’s mind.
During a year-end campaign, it’s essential to track and analyze data from these multiple channels. Data on donor behavior, preferences, and interactions provides audience insights that can be used to improve fundraising strategies and optimize future campaigns.
To generate the greatest return on staff members’ time and organizational financial investment, nonprofits should start planning their year-end campaigns well in advance, ideally 3-6 months before the campaign is set to begin.
With respect to email fundraising, nonprofits should send year-end messages as early as September and no later than early November. The last week of December, particularly between December 28th and 31st, is optimal for a final campaign push because people are often in a giving mood during the holiday season and are more likely to respond positively to donation appeals.
Sending emails between Tuesday and Thursday and between 9 AM and 12 PM or 6 PM and 9 PM can also increase open and response rates. However, this is not a universal rule. A/B testing can help determine the most effective sending days and times for an organization’s unique supporter base.
Segmentation is the process of categorizing current and prospective donors into distinct groups based on specific criteria to deliver targeted email campaigns. By dividing donors into groups based on characteristics like giving history, engagement level, demographics, and interests, nonprofits can tailor their messaging and approach to each segment’s preferences and motivations.
During a year-end campaign, sustaining and high-level donors should receive personalized emails expressing gratitude and showcasing the impact of their past contributions. One-time and non-donors might receive compelling stories and testimonials that inspire them to get involved. Segmenting by engagement level can help re-engage lapsed donors with targeted messages, reminding them of the nonprofit’s mission and achievements.
Effective messaging in a nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaign should be inspiring. It should convey the organization’s impact and the urgency of supporting its mission. A compelling year-end appeal is:
- Human: Messaging in a nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaign should be relatable and authentic, so donors feel a genuine connection to the cause.
- Clear Goal and Demonstrated Impact: By spotlighting specific stories and quantifying the outcomes of past contributions, donors will see their gifts as catalysts for positive change and want to give more.
- Urgency: Emphasizing the specific deadline and time-sensitivity of the campaign motivates donors to act promptly.
- Matching Gifts: Matching gift opportunities can reinforce the importance of a donor’s immediate support and makes them feel like their contribution is more significant.
Accessibility must always be considered in fundraising. It fosters inclusivity, ensuring that donors of all backgrounds, abilities, and preferences can participate in an organization’s mission.
Nonprofits can make their year-end email campaigns more accessible by providing alt text for images, clear and simple language, and offering options for large font sizes. Download Firefly Partners’ Email Accessibility Checklist to learn how all your supporters can engage with and participate in your year-end campaign.
Due to back end constraints of social media platforms, nonprofits are more limited in making year-end social content accessible. However, simple considerations like providing captions and transcripts for videos, using high contrast colors, and ensuring the readability of text will make content more accessible for people of all abilities.
Next Steps: Kick Off Your Nonprofit’s Year-End Campaign Now
Starting early on a year-end fundraising campaign can ensure nonprofits are able to coordinate team efforts: assigning responsibilities, clarifying roles, and promoting a unified approach to the campaign execution between staff members, volunteers, and community members. With advanced planning organizations can make certain that no stone is left unturned, and they create lasting connections with donors. Here are three steps to kickstart your year-end campaign:
- Determine your campaign theme or focus. If you’re gathering new testimonials or impact statements from your constituents, that can take time. Start your outreach early to ensure you have time to get the assets you need to create a cohesive and unique campaign.
- Create your year-end campaign calendar. Your multi-channel approach needs to reach supporters with similar messaging across different touchpoints throughout the campaign. Keep one calendar updated with all scheduled communications on each channel to ensure variation and adequate time between each outreach.
- Define your metrics of success. What do you want to get out of your year-end campaign? After setting your goal for dollars raised, determine what metrics you will be tracking throughout the campaign and your goals to measure against. Common benchmarks include the number of new donors, the number of new email subscribers, or volunteer sign-ups.