This blog post originally appeared in npENGAGE.
For nonprofits, the year-end fundraising season always seems to creep up when you least expect it. Summer fades, the leaves start to change, and before you know it, it’s time to kick your fundraising strategies into high gear again!
As you’re probably already aware, December is a major month for fundraising, with many of those gifts occurring in the final three days of the year. If you want your organization to thrive, these statistics can’t be ignored!
That said, simply knowing that you should be focusing on end-of-year fundraising isn’t enough. In order to make the most of this vital fundraising window, you’ll need to come up with a next-level year-end fundraising plan that inspires gifts from new and existing supporters.
In this post, we’ll go over our five favorite year-end fundraising strategies to give you an extra boost of inspiration. We’ll walk through why your nonprofit should:
- Work with a nonprofit consultant to map out a path to success.
- Mobilize your supporters through peer-to-peer fundraising.
- Maximize your year-end event with mobile and on-site giving tools.
- Don’t ignore your matching gift potential.
- Stay focused on stewardship throughout your campaign.
It’s never too early to start planning for your year-end fundraising campaign, so let’s jump into the tips before time flies by!
1. Work with a nonprofit consultant to map out a path to success.
With end-of-year fundraising being as important as it is, your nonprofit needs to take your strategy seriously. In many cases, that means bringing on professional help in the form of a nonprofit consulting firm.
A nonprofit consultant can have a number of specialties, but their main purpose is to help your organization establish clear fundraising goals and then implement specific strategies to achieve them.
We know that definition may be a little broad, so let’s break down some tangible examples of areas that a nonprofit consulting firm can help you with:
- General strategy. A nonprofit consultant can work with your nonprofit to devise a year-end fundraising plan that fits into your overall nonprofit strategy. Together, you can assess your current standing and find ways to see better results, whether that means overhauling your fundraising approach or simply optimizing certain aspects.
- Fundraising software. If you’re utilizing fundraising technology to meet with your year-end goals, a specialized consultant can help you implement custom solutions that match your fundraising or donor engagement needs. They can also assist with data cleanup or migration to start your campaign with the best information possible.
- Marketing and communications. If you’re not sure how to effectively get the word out about your year-end fundraising campaign, a nonprofit consultant can help you build a marketing plan that’s tailored to your constituency. Email marketing, social media, content marketing, web design, and more—the right consultant can do it all!
Since consulting firms can have a hand in so many different aspects of your year-end fundraising strategy, you should decide what you need from a potential consulting partner before you sign any contracts.
Brainstorm with your team to come up with a handful of year-end fundraising objectives for your organization. Make sure these goals are ambitious as well as practical and clearly measurable. Then, decide where a consultant can lend their expertise.
The takeaway: For a fresh take on year-end fundraising, look to an outside nonprofit consultant. They can help you devise a foolproof plan for raising more donations than ever, and they’ll work with you to make those fundraising dreams a reality.
2. Mobilize your supporters through peer-to-peer fundraising.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is nothing new, but if you don’t think it has a place in your year-end strategy, think again!
Your most loyal, long-term supporters will be the backbone of your year-end fundraising campaign. With peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising, you can capitalize on those donors’ dedication by inspiring them to fundraise on your behalf.
If you want your P2P campaign to stand out from the crowd of nonprofits clamoring to get in their end-of-year gifts, you’ll need to take a creative approach.
For example, look at how the North Shore Animal League pushed their peer-to-peer efforts to the next level by adding a creative birthday, wedding, or bar mitzvah donation option.
With this unique P2P alternative, supporters can launch their own campaign and empower their friends and family to make donations to the shelter in lieu of gifts.
For your year-end campaign, why not take a similar approach and empower donors to raise funds throughout the holiday season?
To do it, just make sure to follow these tips:
- Work with a peer-to-peer platform that enables customization.
- Enlist the help of a nonprofit consultant or developer to implement the configurations.
- Market your fundraiser across a variety of channels.
- Provide social media and email donation request templates so supporters feel comfortable soliciting gifts from their network.
- Thank fundraisers as well as their donors for each gift.
Instead of gifts under the tree, with this creative P2P approach, your nonprofit will have stockings full of year-end donations and plenty of new supporters at your side for the new year.
The takeaway: Peer-to-peer fundraising can be a powerful addition to your end-of-year fundraising strategy. Get more from your campaign by putting a fun twist on the traditional P2P approach.
3. Maximize your year-end event with mobile and on-site giving tools.
If your nonprofit plans to host a fundraising event to seal the deal on your annual fundraising efforts and lure in last-minute donations, you might think ticket sales are all you need to worry about.
However, if you really want to make the most of your year-end fundraising event, ticket sales should only be the starting line of your fundraising victory lap!
You can propel your event’s fundraising power to new heights by incorporating user-friendly mobile and on-site giving tools that inspire guests to make additional donations all night long.
Here’s just a sampling of our favorite giving channels that work perfectly with fundraising events:
- Mobile bidding. Designed to streamline and enhance silent auctions, mobile bidding software puts the power in your guests’ hands by enabling them to browse your auction catalog, place or automate bids, and make additional donations all on their smartphones.
- Giving kiosks. For community events with plenty of foot traffic, on-site giving kiosks are hard to beat. Make sure to promote your donation kiosk and set a reasonable (but profitable) donation amount so that supporters feel comfortable making a quick gift on the go, no cash or check needed!
- Text-to-give. Did you know that text donations are especially prevalent during the year-end giving season? It’s true! To make the most of text giving at your event, promote your text-to-give number during your live appeal and have volunteers on hand to walk through the process with less-than-tech-savvy guests.
While you don’t necessarily need to invest in event fundraising software that you won’t use or won’t appeal to your constituents, you should make a point to diversify your giving channels, especially during the end-of-year fundraising season.
When your supporters have a plethora of options for how they can donate at your event, they’re more likely to find a way that’s convenient and engaging for them (and that means more donations for you!).
The takeaway: Don’t rely on ticket sales alone to bring in the year-end fundraising dollars you need. Instead, make the most of your fundraising event by utilizing innovative mobile and on-site giving tools.
4. Don’t ignore your matching gift potential.
If your nonprofit isn’t familiar with matching gifts, let’s recap how this powerful fundraising method works:
- First, an individual makes a donation to your nonprofit.
- Then, that donor can submit a “matching gift request” to their employer.
- If the donation meets certain basic requirements, the employer will then match the gift by donating the same amount (or, in some cases, more) to your organization.
- Voila! Your nonprofit ends up with twice the money going toward your cause.
Four simple steps and your nonprofit has literally doubled the donor’s initial gift. The best part is that matching gifts require very little effort on your nonprofit’s part.
Because matching gifts are so simple to implement, your organization would be crazy not to make them a key part of your year-end fundraising strategy.
In order to ensure you get the most from matching gift programs, follow our advice:
- Market matching gifts in an as many places as possible. You should promote matching gifts on your donation forms, your website’s Ways to Give page, in newsletters, and in your initial gift acknowledgement or follow-up email. The more you remind donors that their gift can be doubled, the more likely they are to follow through with the request.
- Be aware of submission deadlines. Different companies have different requirements for when matching gift requests must be submitted. To ensure you don’t miss out on extra funds due to an end-of-the-year deadline, follow up with donors as soon as you can after their initial donation; that way, they won’t forget to submit.
- Feature a matching gift tool on your donation page. In addition to raising awareness about matching gifts in general, you can also enable your supporters to search for their specific company matching gift information by placing a helpful matching gift search tool on your donation page or Ways to Give page.
Matching gifts are the two-for-one sale of the nonprofit world. When you get the word out about how easy it is to turn one donation into two, your supporters won’t see any reason to miss out on the fun.
The takeaway: Matching gifts are one of the easiest ways to increase your year-end fundraising power, but they’re also one of the most overlooked. Make sure your supporters know how and when to submit their matching gift requests.
5. Stay focused on stewardship throughout your campaign.
At the end of the year, it’s easy to get so focused on bringing in donations that you let your donor engagement and stewardship practices slide a bit.
This year-end fundraising season, make a conscious effort to put stewardship first. By doing so, you’ll reinforce how valuable your supporters are to your organization, which will encourage them to continue staying engaged long after the year-end giving surge dies down.
Need some ideas for implementing stewardship best practices at your nonprofit? Consider these suggestions:
- Encourage recurring donations. A single gift is great, but regular gifts on a long-term basis are even better! Make regular giving easy for your donors by placing a recurring giving option on your donation form. Don’t forget to accept a variety of payment types, including ACH (also called eChecks), to make this process as convenient as possible.
- Say thank you more than you think you should. Donors want to know that their support hasn’t gone unnoticed. Even though you’ll be receiving more gifts than usual during the year-end season, go out of your way to show your appreciation to every single donor, no matter how small their contribution.
- Spread good cheer in your communications. Your nonprofit can inspire festivity (and maybe even some more donations) by sending emails or posting social media content that’s jovial and appreciative of your supporters’ hard work furthering your cause. Don’t forget to share how they’re impacting the community, too!
When you prioritize your donors rather than just their donations, you’ll show them how much they mean to your nonprofit. And when donors feel at home as part of your organization, they’re much more likely to keep giving, volunteering, and attending events for years to come.
The takeaway: Your end-of-year fundraising campaign is an excellent opportunity to promote donor stewardship and foster relationships with your supporters that will last well after the year ends. Stay thankful, focus on your supporters, and don’t forget to have fun with it!
The end of the year can be a stressful time for nonprofits as you hustle to bring in as much money for your cause as you can.
With our strategies in mind, we’re confident that this year-end season will be your best yet. Now get to fundraising!