This year has felt like a slog. Fundraising has been challenging. And now it’s time for year-end fundraising during COVID. I for one am not excited. COVID might have you second-guessing your traditional approaches.
Are your donors sick of hearing about what an awful year it’s been?
Have you already asked them for too much?
How do you stand out during this absolutely unprecedented year?
Don’t panic. You probably won’t be too surprised that it’s not an all or nothing answer. Some of your tried and true strategies are a great idea, others may not work this year, and there are new tactics you might want to try to get the best results.
Here’s our top 10 tips for year-end fundraising during covid to help you reach your fundraising goals.
Year-End Fundraising During Covid: What’s Staying the Same
Tip #1: Focus On Storytelling
Here’s what shouldn’t surprise you about year-end fundraising during COVID: you’re still going to want to focus on your mission and your storytelling. Year-end giving works well because it makes sense to align with the holiday season, a time of generosity and giving back.
It’s marketable, it’s ripe for good storytelling, and can ease the process of coming up with a fresh campaign concept. This is still true! Finding a way to tie in with the end of the year, generosity, and what you’ve done in 2020 is still a great idea.
Start with your own story — you need to be able to illustrate your impact. This inspires donors to give, but also to become a part of the story, which is what keeps their commitment to your cause going, even after the campaign (spoiler alert: continuing the fundraising cycle with a second donation is a huge part of virtual fundraising and what you can focus on this year).
Tip #2: You Need A Year-End Fundraising Plan
Not only that, but you still are going to want a clear goal and a strong plan for your campaign. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help guide your campaign:
- Is there a project you want to get funded for immediate use, before the end of the year or early into next year?
- Will the money be used much further down the road?
- Are you funding programs or operations or both?
- What is a realistic goal for the timeline and your community?
- Is it best to create a monetary goal or one based on impact metrics?
- Will you have partner or major donor support through a matching gift?
With the answers to these questions, you can decide what your fundraising goal is, how long you plan to run your campaign, how many people you will reach out to, and your channels for outreach (email, snail mail, social media, etc.). Last, you’ll want to decide if you’re planning a crowdfunding campaign, a peer-to-peer campaign, or an activity based campaign.
As you start building a more in-depth plan for your year-end fundraising, you’ll want to use consistent branding, tone, and voice. You could create a tagline or name for this campaign so that your donors know every time they hear it: hey, that’s my favorite charity and I should give them money!
Because this year’s fundraising will be primarily done online, consistent branding will be an important deciding factor when you’re choosing your tools and platforms. CauseVox lets you customize your donation pages so that they look like your organization.
View and download our Year-End Fundraising Sample Plan + Calendar by inputting your email address below:
Tip #3: A Personal Touch Is Key
Our last major tactic that is staying the same in 2020 is to use the personal touch. Any time you can connect with your donors and help them understand how their values align with your mission, you’re doing it right. When you tell stories, make sure that potential donors know how they fit in: what can they do to make things better?
That personal touch also includes using segmentation, creating unique donor experiences, and of course thanking your donors right after they give.
Year-End Fundraising During Covid: What You Can Drop
Even though there are many things that are staying the same, there are a few key elements that you’re going to want to ditch for COVID year-end fundraising.
Tip #4: Leave In-Person Events Behind
First, obviously, most importantly: in-person events. Please do not host a large in-person event that has the chance to spread COVID.
Tip #5: Drop the Dozens Of Different Software
Ok, now that we have the Big One out of the way let’s talk about some things you may not have thought about. This year is all about virtual, which means that you’re going to want to think carefully about the software you’re using.
It can make or break your donor’s experience (and yours too). If you haven’t been focused on virtual in the past, chances are that you’ve amassed quite a few platforms that don’t work well together. Maybe you have one place for folks to register for events, another place for people to donate, another place to do peer-to-peer fundraising, and a completely separate email system.
Drop all of the clunky software. 2020 is about streamlining your year-end fundraising because we have enough stress in our lives. You can do all of that (and more) in one easy place with CauseVox. Giving your donors one clear funnel that takes them seamlessly from “I’m interested in this organization” to “oh look there’s my thank you for a donation!” will increase your donations.
Plus it helps you stay on top of your tasks. Imagine that a donor makes a gift on your website, another sends in a check, and yet another donates through a Facebook fundraiser. Are you sure you’re going to see all of them and send that person a proper thank you?
CauseVox’s platform removes this hurdle by helping to funnel donations through one location.
Whether you choose to direct all your website and social media followers to your fundraising campaign page or a donation page, you’ll guarantee a more streamlined giving process for everyone involved.
Tip # 5: Consider Driving Monthly Donations
Last, but certainly not least, this year is the time you wave goodbye to one-time donations (ok, not completely but we’re going to change our focus). It’s all about monthly gifts baby! Sure, it’s good to always give the option for one-time gifts, but virtual fundraising is all about sustainable and predictable, and that’s true even when you’re running an annual campaign.
Instead of focusing your energy on getting people to give once, shift your language towards recurring donations. You can adjust your donation tiers to prioritize recurring gifts, build welcome emails to remind people about recurring gifts, or build your year-end fundraising around monthly gifts.
Now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about some new strategies you can try to make the most of 2020 (a daunting prospect, to be sure).
Year-End Fundraising During Covid: What’s New
So what should you be doing for your year-end fundraising during COVID? There are a few important things that might be new to your approach.
Tip #6: Digital First
Ok ok, so this might not be new because we’ve been suggesting it for a while, but it’s more crucial now than ever. It’s beyond important this year to have a simple online campaign site for your year end. You can drive donations through this site, and display offline gifts through other channels here. This makes it easy for donors to understand your fundraising goal, your live progress towards it, and impact.
Remember when we said to cut down on all the different software and confusion? This is your one simple and beautiful place to send your donors.
This might mean testing out a platform like CauseVox for the first time, or moving an event that used to be in-person to a virtual format. Take a look at our blog focusing on optimizing your digital efforts to get more ideas of what to introduce this year.
Tip #7: Multi-Channel Approach
Now let’s go ahead and build on that digital first strategy. You don’t want to put off any donors who might prefer to send in a check. That’s why we suggest taking a multi-channel approach. While in years past, it’s been mostly offline, this year you’ll want to use as many channels as possible to drive gifts. Here are some suggestions for making sure that everyone can give:
- Drive donations to your online campaign site through prominent placing on your website
- Use an active social media campaign that sends people to your donations page
- Consider using Facebook and Instagram ads to expand your audience for year-end
- Make sure to mix it up with some posts that aren’t making an ask
- Take your email marketing to the next level. Try doing about 5-6 emails to your network leading up to year-end.
- Try live streaming! This doesn’t have to be something super planned. Skid Row Housing Trust hosted informal community meetings through livestream. Even those small connections helped them to build relationships.
- Use the power of peer to peer fundraising. See if your board, volunteers, or other super-supporters will fundraise for you. Keep reading for more info about how to make this really stand out.
- Don’t forget about direct mail. This is a time when many nonprofits are mailing less, so you can stand out by sending snail mail.
Tip #8: Virtual Events
Sometimes 2020 feels like a massive bummer. But we can make it a little bit less of a bummer by building community and relationships with virtual events. You may be worried about trying to recreate your in-person events, but there are actual some big benefits to moving virtual:
- It may actually increase your ROI because you’re not spending on a venue, food, decorations, and all the works.
- You have a bigger potential audience! You’re not limited to people who can physically be in your area.
- It helps to create a sense of community. We’re all feeling a bit isolated right now, and any way that your organization can bring people together will be a major plus.
- It’s something exciting for your supporters. Even if the “night out” is at home, it’s still something different and fun.
Tip #9: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Peer-to-Peer fundraising is an incredibly powerful way to build a sustainable and wide-reaching donations strategy. If you’re looking at the idea of virtual fundraising and you feel overwhelmed or uninterested, consider adding in a peer-to-peer component to your year-end fundraising.
Asking your strongest supporters to lead the charge on your fundraising helps take some of the stress off of you, and leads to a more successful campaign. Consider creating fundraiser templates and a challenge or event to get your supporters excited about your year-end giving campaign.
Tip #10: The Sky is the Limit
This year we have seen nonprofits pull out all the stops when it comes to creativity. We’ve seen virtual support dog demonstrations. We’ve seen Zoom based awards ceremonies. We’ve seen socially distanced sleep outs and a COVID friendly walk across Nebraska. If you can dream it up, this is the year to do it. The world has said that we can’t do what we’ve always done. So why not do what you’ve always wished you could do?
Ready To Get Your Fundraising Campaign Started?
Are you ready to start your digital first strategies? CauseVox has tools that make it all easy, from beautiful donation tiers and branded forms, to simple recurring donations and featured matching grants.
Make your year-end fundraising COVID friendly.
Raise more with less effort. Easy for you to set up and easy for your donors to navigate.