15 Top Takeaways From The Year-End Fundraising Fair

Nels Challinor
Nels Challinor

Content Writer

The end of the year is fast approaching and with it, your year-end fundraising campaign. Studies have shown that the last few weeks of the year are a time of heightened generosity and philanthropy. So how can you take advantage of the season of giving to raise more for your organization?

CauseVox’s Year-End Fundraising Fair was a mini-conference featuring 16+curated sessions with a big impact on year-end fundraising.

If you weren’t able to attend the live sessions, don’t worry! We’ve assembled sixteen of the top takeaways from this two-day fair below. 

1. You Can Incorporate #GivingTuesday Into Your Year-End Fundraising Plans For Optimal Results!

Include #GivingTuesday in your end-of-year fundraising plan!

In the session, “GivingTuesday + Year-End Fundraising: A (Good) Marriage Story,”  Melissa Benjamin from Fiver Children’s Foundation and Jenna Notarfrancesco from CauseVox, sat down to talk about how Fiver was able to raise over $32K with their #GivingTuesday campaign in 2020.

During the conversation, Melissa shared a few of here top tips to help other organizations best leverage #GivingTuesday for year-end fundraising. Here’s what she wants you to know:

  • Repurpose the content that you will be using for your End-of-Year Appeal
  • Use #GivingTuesday as an excuse to communicate with new communities of donors!
  • Reach out to your donor community to find a match.
  • Sign up for CauseVox and create your reliable and customizable giving page!

By using #GivingTuesday as the lead-in to your year-end fundraising, you’re able to kick off your year-end strong!


2. Use Storytelling To Drive Your Year-End Fundraising

Who doesn’t love a good story? In the session, “5 Essential Stories to Drive Donations At Year-End” Nonprofit Marketing Expert Julia Campbell explained the value of stories for engaging donors. 

But what kinds of stories can you be telling? Julia shared there’s fundamentally 5 kinds of stories:

  • Creation Stories
  • Impact Stories
  • Insider Stories
  • Donor Stories 
  • Community Stories

Find out what kind of content your donors want and select the story type that best fits with their expectations.

If you’re not sure how to get started with your storytelling, ask your donors! 

3. Don’t Skip Direct Mail

During the Year-End Fundraising Fair session, “Direct Mail In The Digital Age” nonprofit coach Kelly McLaughlin shared that over her 12+ years of experience, she has found that direct mail is still an effective fundraising tool, especially as part of your year-end appeal. 

Direct mail can stand out to donors, allow you to tell longer stories, and let you personalize your communication. 

Personalization is as easy as handwriting a thank you note, including a sticker, or sprinkling the donor’s name throughout the letter to keep them engaged. 

We’ve unlocked this session for free! Watch it here:

Want to access all the sessions, official notes, discount package, and more? Get the Year-End Fundraising Fair On-Demand for only $37.50 with the promo code 50OFFYEFF

4. Have A Comprehensive Email Strategy

Effective communication in the last week of the year is essential! During the Year-End Fundraising Fair session, “The Year-End Fundraising Playbook” Nathan Hill from NextAfter advises you to prioritize your end-of-year appeal by following a simple step-by-step process.

  • Prime Your Donors With Email Communication
  • Write A Personal Appeal
  • Send Out “Closers”  To Wrap Up Your Campaign

This approach makes relationships, not donations, the priority. If you are still unsure how to communicate with donors at year-end, NextAfter offers a free Year-End Fundraising Course!

5. Focus On Maximizing Online Giving In 2021

Maximize your donations at year-end by getting ready to fundraise online. During the session, “How To Maximize Online Giving For Year-End 2021” Candace Cody at CauseVox shared a few tips for taking advantage of the recent 32% growth in online revenue. 

Here’s a couple of things you can do to maximize your fundraising this year-end:

  • Stand out amidst the noise + acquire 2x more donors by asking your supporters to fundraise on your behalf (peer-to-peer fundraising)
  • Increase average gift size by using Pledge Now, Pay Later, a new feature that allows your donors to pay large gifts in automatically fulfilled installments!
CauseVox’s Pledge Now, Pay Later Feature

To learn more ways you can maximize online giving this year-end, watch the full session here:

Want to access all the sessions, official notes, discount package, and more? Get the Year-End Fundraising Fair On-Demand for only $37.50 with the promo code 50OFFYEFF

6. Have A Year-End Fundraising Plan In Place

Approach year-end with a detailed plan of how you’re going to raise top dollars from your organization! 

During the session “Crush Your Year-End Fundraising in the New Normal,” nonprofit consultant Pamela Grow provides a template for effectively running your year-end fundraising campaign. 

  1. Prime your donors with personalized communication. 
  2. Create a direct mail and email calendar and checklist.
  3. Customize your homepage and donation page.
  4. Write your thank you letter in advance so you are prepared to start acknowledging gifts.

When it comes to end-of-year giving, donors want an organization that is prepared and communicative!

Access more of Pamela’s amazing resources at Basics & More.

7. Easily Create An Online Year-End Campaign With CauseVox

Don’t go into year-end without giving your donors an easy way to give online.

During the Year-End Fundraising Fair session, “How To Build A High-Performing Online Site For Year-End With CauseVox” Jenna Notarfrancesco shared three examples of successful online year-end campaigns that used CauseVox’s digital fundraising platform.

Using CauseVox’s fundraising tools, you can easily build out a crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign in minutes to help you raise more online this year-end.

Example of a year-end campaign on CauseVox

For more information about how you can get started with CauseVox +  raise more at year-end, check out their subscription plans

8. Engage Sponsors + Partners For Year-End Fundraising Success

Sponsorship is a fantastic way to increase revenue at year-end. 

During the year-end fundraising fair session, “Year-End Fundraising And Sponsors: How To Maximize Your Relationships” Abigail Quinlan from Nonprofit 101 showed us how to tailor sponsorship levels to any campaign. 

When reaching out to potential sponsors, consider your needs as an organization. For outreach and awareness, you might want to enlist media or promotional partners. If you’re looking for large gifts or employee matching programs, work towards finding corporate partners to sponsor your campaign. 

Remember that sponsors want your support as well. Make sure to acknowledge their contribution in communication with your donors!

9.  Be Sure You Thank Your Donors For Optimal Retention

Every year, total donations during Q4 increase, so it’s essential that you retain your donors. 

During the Year-End Fundraising Fair session, “What Every Fundraiser Can Do To Retain Year-End Donors” Steven Shattuck at Bloomerang explained that the most important element to donor retention is proper acknowledgement; make sure you are thanking quickly and personally.

Before acknowledging gifts, do your research! Ask yourself whether this donor has given before, how much, and how often. Referencing these gifts in your thank you will show donors that you care about their contributions.

Explore how Bloomerang can help you retain more donors.

Want to access all the sessions, official notes, discount package, and more? Get the Year-End Fundraising Fair On-Demand for only $37.50 with the promo code 50OFFYEFF

10.  Use Your Social Media Community To Amplify Your Fundraising Efforts

Get your community sharing on social media to acquire more donors this year-end!

During the Year-End Fundraising Fair session, “Using Your Social Media Community To Amplify Your Fundraising Efforts” Elijah van der Giessen and Steven Davidson from TechSoup shared a report that 50% of donors said they gave because a friend asked — emphasizing the importance of social media for acquiring new donors.

So, leading up to year-end, ramp up your engagement on social media. Share, retweet, and engage with your allies and supporters. They will be more likely to do the same for your appeal or campaign!

Just like when you’re prepping for an event, make sure that you’re identifying your key stakeholders. For social media, these would be the “superfans” who engage with your content regularly.

11. Use Facebook + Instagram Ads To Reach A Wider Audience

During the session “Facebook Advertising For Year-End Fundraising” Zac Collins from No Typical Moments shared how nonprofits can effectively use social media advertising to widen their audience.

Use Pixel to track your audience across social media sites so that you can ensure that they’re taking the appropriate action! Pixel can also help you create lookalike audiences, groups of people who don’t know you yet, but may be interested in your mission or brand.

An Example Of The Pixel In Action

Optimizing your social media ads with Pixel will increase your impact without you having to spend additional time or money!

12.  Have A Communications Plan In Place

It’s more important than ever to make sure that you have a winning digital communication plan in place for your end-of-year fundraising campaign. 

During his session “Effective Digital Communication at End of Year,” Matt Gayer, Co-Executive Director of Catalogue for Philanthropy covered best practices for your end-of-year communications.

  • Emails: Hook your audience with a brief, urgent subject line and a clearly defined CTA.
  • Social Media: At the end of the year, try to post every day.
  • Multi-Channel: Repeat your call to action and campaign details across channels.

Catalogue for Philanthropy has additional resources for nonprofits looking for more information about digital communication and much more. Visit their Catalogue for Philanthropy Learning Commons!

13.  Set Yourself Up For Long-Term Growth Creating Content That Drives Engagement

Growth funnels will help you guide users along a path from introduction to donations. 

During the Year-End Fundraising Fair session, “Beyond the Email Ask: Using Growth Funnels for a Comprehensive Year-End Campaign Strategy” Jen Newmeyer, the Director of Digital Membership at WHYY, layed out a framework for converting strangers into donors. 

Begin by assessing which platforms and communication channels you have at your disposal. Then create engaging content that will bring in new audiences, following up this introductory content with communication.

Check in regularly with your prospective donors to make sure that the growth funnel is working properly. 

Growth Funnel Example For Giving Tuesday

Want to access all the sessions, official notes, discount package, and more? Get the Year-End Fundraising Fair On-Demand for only $37.50 with the promo code 50OFFYEFF

14. Drive More Traffic To Your Site Using The Google Ad Grant

Did you know that you may be eligible for up to $10K in Google Ad credit? 

During the session, “The Google Ad Grant: Maximizing the Value for Nonprofits Around the Globe,” Brittany Odom from Nonprofit Megaphone reviewed the Google Ad Grant program, which is available to most 501(c)3s. 

Once you set up your Google Ads account, you will be able to create campaigns to drive traffic to various programs and pages on your website. These campaigns will be broken up into ad groups, which will contain your ads. Incorporate keywords into your ad copy and website to increase your impact!

The Structure of Google Ads

15.  Write A Strong Year-End Fundraising Appeal

Every year-end fundraising campaign will feature an appeal. In the Year-End Fundraising Appeal Workshop, Candace Cody from CauseVox led participants through effective appeal creation. 

The best appeals begin with stories; over 50% of social media donors report that compelling storytelling encouraged them to make a donation. Stories will allow your donor to see themselves as active participant in the mission and impact of your organization.

To maximize the impact of your appeal, keep it short and sweet and always relate your call to action back to the real impact that the donor or supporter will have by participating!

For more help with your year-end appeal, check out this webinar!

Get All The Insights From The Year-End Fundraising Fair On-Demand

Now, you can access all 16 recorded sessions, 57 pages of official notes, the YEFF Prize Package (Discounts + resources to help you save thousands $$$), the CFRE-credited Year-End Fundraising Appeal Workshop, and get all the session handouts when you purchase the YEFF demand.

This way, you can access these valuable takeaways anytime, at a pace that works with your busy schedule!

Get the Year-End Fundraising Fair On-Demand for only $37.50 with the promo code 50OFFYEFF

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