By Consuelo Meux, Ph.D., CEO
Did you know that 1/3 of all charitable giving happens at the end of December each year? Even more importantly, 12% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. This means that it’s time to start planning your year-end fundraising campaign.
I remember once having a very late start on a year-end appeal. I worried that December 20 was too late to send the first letter. My staff insisted that no one was going to open or read the email – they were prepping their holiday dinners and spending time with family. Always up for a challenge, I decided to gather my volunteer team and get the letter out anyway. That mailing resulted in the largest end-of-year collective donations that the organization ever collected. Funds continued to come in well after the New Year.
The lesson is that it’s never too late to ask people to give.
So how do you capitalize on the annual year-end fundraising campaign? Start early (i.e., to reduce stress, don’t wait until December 20!)
September is the perfect time to start planning your year-end appeal. Direct mail is still the #1 fundraising method, followed by email appeals, then personal appeals. There is plenty of time to determine the message focus and the campaign design. You will need to develop a strong, consistent series of communications and a schedule. Don’t be shy about sending several appeals to your donor base. Some will miss them, some will ignore them, but each contact helps to build your case.
Here are some basic steps to get you started:
- Clean up your mailing list. It’s a tedious task, but you have the time to correct bounced email addresses and find missing mailing addresses. Since your current donors, board members, and volunteers already have demonstrated they care about your mission, ensure that they are included in all communications.
- Study your donor list. Evaluate who might have the potential to increase the size of their gifts. Frequent donors are loyal and often would give more if you asked. Then, look at who is not on your donor list. Major donors who support one or more nonprofit causes are likely to donate to other causes as well. LinkedIn is useful for finding connections to make an introduction.
- Investigate social media followers. Social media might be the goldmine needed to reach new potential donors. Explore your social sites for active followers and send them personalized messages about your campaign. Also, keep in mind that Facebook makes it easy for charitable organizations to accept donations. Your Facebook followers can even host fundraisers for your organization in a few easy steps.
If you start now, your year-end appeal has the potential to be a huge success. For additional resources, check out Classy.org for a few extra tips on what not to do, and sign up for Spokes mailing list to receive email notifications about upcoming workshops.