With the new year fast approaching, you’re probably already focused on pulling together your resolutions and bidding 2017 adieu. But as a fundraiser, you have things to do before the end of the year! In fact, now is the perfect time to kick your year-end fundraising efforts into high gear.
As you know, if you’re looking to close out your year on a high note, the year-end “ask” is crucial. That’s because upwards of 50% of nonprofits receive the majority of their annual donations between October and December.
With 2017 winding down, how can you pull off a successful campaign that caps off your year and—most importantly—draws in plenty of donations? Here are five different fundraising strategies for giving you can implement now to help you meet your year-end goals before the new year rings in.
1. Tell Your Story And Build Anticipation
With any fundraising campaign, the narrative is a key piece of the puzzle. Therefore, your story is one of the major ways you connect your supporters to your efforts and motivate them to do something to help. In addition, sharing a powerful story is also an effective way to “warm up” your supporters with a touch of inspiration before your hard ask.
So, before launching your year-end campaign, it’s important to identify a key story (or more) to share with your community via email blasts, social media, powerful imagery, and blog posts. This narrative will act as the common thread of your campaign, providing cohesiveness and an impactful message between all your communication efforts.
What else can you do with your narrative? Use it to build anticipation among your fundraising community. Think of the popular social media movement Humans of New York, which posts snapshots and quick stories from different people’s lives. On the Facebook page, HONY’s photographer Brandon Stanton, began posting longer stories in multiple sections. Followers would get an enticing glimpse into a person’s life, but it was only the first part of the story—multiple pieces would follow.
Doing this builds incredible anticipation among HONY’s community, and users often lament that they’ll be refreshing the page all day in order to find out what happens to the person in the photo.
It’s easy to implement something similar in your own fundraising campaign. Pick an important person or issue related to your campaign and create suspense by sharing small snippets of that story, one at a time.
Your narrative is important, but there’s no rule stating that you need to give it away all at once.
2. Make Contact
Your year-end campaign is not a “build it and they will come” sort of situation. Regardless of how much effort you put into planning, if you don’t share the launch of your campaign with your supporters, they likely won’t feel motivated to donate—unless they somehow stumble upon your campaign page.
Needless to say, an official announcement of your year-end campaign is absolutely crucial. Consider this the “hard ask” of your entire campaign—a time when you’re straight out asking for your community’s support and donations.
Of course, you can make contact with your supporters in any number of ways:
- Email Blasts: Send an announcement email to your entire list of supporters.
- Direct Mail: Don’t hesitate to go “old school” and mail out a postcard announcing your campaign!
- Social Media: Everyone’s on social media, so don’t forget to post about your campaign across all the platforms you use.
There are a few things to keep in mind when making contact with your supporters about your year-end campaign. First, since this is the hard ask of your campaign, remember to be specific in your call-to-action. Share your dollar amount goal, what specific project donations will benefit, and your expected impact. These details reassure your donors.
Secondly, you don’t want to send out one message to your supporters and let your entire campaign stagnate. There’s no need to be a pest, but there’s nothing wrong with sending the occasional follow-up message to keep your campaign top-of-mind. Sending one during the last week of the year and on the last day of the year is especially important for garnering last-minute donations. Consider a marketing plan to organize your communications throughout the year-end campaign.
Finally, in all of your communication efforts, remember to push your community directly to your fundraising site—making it easy and convenient for them to donate immediately. You don’t want your donors to have to search for how they can show support for your cause. Do the legwork for them!
3. Get Social
You already know that social media is a great place to interact and engage with your supporters. So, don’t forget to make use of the power of social for your year-end ask!
What sorts of things can you do on social media to add impact to your year-end campaign? Here are a few ideas:
- Reinforce Your Story: Utilize powerful imagery and videos in order to reinforce and expand on your campaign narrative and illustrate your campaign’s importance to your community.
- Update on Campaign Progress: Of course, you’ll want your fundraising site to share progress towards your fundraising goal. But, providing updates on your social media account in addition to your online fundraising website’s blog is also a great way to engage with your community and make them feel connected to your cause.
- Thank and Recognize Donors: Everybody loves a little bit of public recognition. So, remember to show gratitude towards those who have already donated via your social accounts!
- Organize Your Own Campaign: You might never achieve the virality of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but creating your own social campaign to complement your year-end ask is a great way to encourage engagement in your community. Get creative!
- Answer Questions: Social media is about connections, and you don’t want all of your engagement to be one-sided. Don’t ignore any questions or concerns from your supporters. Respond to them on social so that your entire community has access to that information!
Remember that your cause really wouldn’t have legs without your supporters. Giving them a way to connect, engage, and interact via social is crucial for fostering a spirit of community around your campaign.
4. Get Personal
Sometimes you just can’t beat that personal connection, so don’t hesitate to reach out personally to some of your past donors.
Look through your previous donations and identify key donors that haven’t yet donated to your year-end campaign. Then, reach out personally via email or phone to ask for their continued support through the end of the year.
When reaching out directly to your donors, remember to avoid being pushy. Instead, remind them of the impact of your campaign and how their dollars help you to accomplish that great work. After that, the ball is in their court.
Also, try to avoid doing most of the talking. Instead, make it your mission to engage your key supporters in a conversation—rather than a sales pitch. It’s also important that you show your gratitude for their previous donations. You don’t want your donors to feel like you look at them as bottomless pockets. So, showing recognition for the dollars they’ve already offered in the past is crucial for making them feel valued and appreciated!
5. Incorporate Community-Driven Fundraising
Regardless of how much you reach out to donors via email, social media, direct mail, and other targeted online marketing, your nonprofit’s reach is relatively small. You’re only connecting with those you know or who potentially match your average donor demographics.
Simply put, your audience is considerably limited.
Instead of being comfortable with the status-quo, consider incorporating community-driven fundraising as a year-end fundraising strategy. When you work with your current supporters to fundraise, you reach an even bigger audience of potential donors (yipee!) while also engaging them, further aiding in your retention efforts.
Community-driven fundraising simply means you’re activating your supporters and rallying them to take their commitment a step further.
Here are a few ways to add community-driven fundraising into your year-end activities:
- Ask your online audience (both email and social media) to share the stories you post on these mediums with their own friends and families. Don’t forget to include links to your fundraising website!
- Recruit supporters to become personal fundraisers in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. They’ll use their power of influence to share their own story about your organization and help others understand why they should give.
- Organize a 5K or another special event that gets your supporters actively involved in your cause.
Tips To Remember
Implementing one (or all!) of these year-end strategies is sure to help you achieve success and end the year on a high note. But, there are a couple quick things you’ll want to keep in mind when utilizing these strategies for your own campaign:
With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s not just your donors feeling a sense of urgency—you are too! That drive and motivation is great, but it can also cause you to be a little pushier and more desperate. Remember that all of your communication with your supporters should be donor-centered at all times, even when you’re under pressure. Never forget to treat them as the heroes of your cause. After all, their support is the key to your success.
As mentioned above, it’s important that you’re specific with your year-end goal. Not only does it make you look organized, but it also connects your supporters to the larger picture of your campaign—motivating them to help you reach your overall goal.
You might be ready to ring in the new year and wave goodbye to 2017. But, there’s still time left in the year to bring in some funds for your cause. Put these strategies to work, and get ready for a successful year-end campaign!
CauseVox offers a number of year-end fundraising resources. If you’re interested in learning more, check these out: