Giving season is officially underway. More importantly, we are about to be well-into December.
It’s no secret this month represents one of the most critical times of the year for the nonprofit community. We’ve seen the stats reported regularly: Nearly 20% of all annual online donations are made in December and donors tend to give 80% larger gifts during this month. Trends like these make it obvious as to why nonprofits invest time and effort into assembling a solid holiday fundraising campaign.
It’s not enough, however, to simply launch a campaign. You need to actively promote it in order to attract attention and donations. With that said, here are 11 ways you can promote your holiday fundraising campaign, starting now.
Update Your Website
1. Display a CTA on your homepage
Your homepage is a key marketing asset, so make sure it spotlights your year-end efforts. Create a bold call-to-action that leads to your campaign webpage or micro-site. Be careful not to bury it under other buttons or banners; your holiday campaign CTA should grab site visitors’ attention as soon as they land on your homepage.
For instance, check out how Action Against Hunger prominently features their gift guide at the top of their homepage. You should similarly broadcast your holiday fundraising campaign front and center on your website.
Run a Great Email Campaign
2. Time your emails…backwards
To really nail down the frequency and content of your email campaign, try planning backwards from your holiday fundraising campaign’s end date. This will help clarify an appropriate schedule for your emails.
For example, let’s say you launch a 4-week holiday fundraising campaign today. If the campaign ends on December 31st, then you might want to send at least one email each week. Your email campaign calendar might look something like this:
• Wednesday, December 31st (fourth week, end date):
The email: Send an urgent “last-minute” reminder (e.g. “24 hours left to make your tax-deductible gift!”)
• Tuesday, December 30th (fourth week, day before end date):
The email: Count down remaining days to ramp up urgency (e.g. “2 days left to lock in your year-end donation!”)
• Friday, December 26th (end of third week):
The email: Update supporters on your campaign’s progress, compelling them to help your organization cross the finish line strong as the New Year approaches
• Monday, December 22nd (third week):
The email: Update supporters on campaign progress
• Offer any remaining incentives
• Promote eCard options as holiday gifts (e.g. “For those hard-to-please friends and family, make a gift in their honor and send them a beautiful eCard”)
• Monday, December 15th (second week):
The email: Announce any donation matching campaigns or incentives to encourage people to donate ASAP.
• Monday, December 8th (first week):
The email: Introduce your holiday campaign and storyline
3. Create Custom Messages for Social Shares
Encourage supporters to spread the word about your campaign by including social share buttons in each email. Using tools like clicktotweet.com, you can also build your own custom messages into the buttons that include your campaign hashtag and a link back to your site. Not only does this tactic make it super quick and easy for supporters to share, but it also ensures they send out the exact message you want.
Here’s an example of Heifer International’s customized social share button tweet. Note how it pops up with the appropriate hashtag and link already included:
Other Stewardship Assets to Consider
4. Use your newsletter to tease out your campaign
It might be tempting to replace all of your standard communications with holiday-campaign promotions, but if you send out a regular biweekly or monthly newsletter, make sure it still goes out in December. Consistency is important, so keep to your newsletter schedule and ensure your holiday campaign is a part of that communication. Remember to still keep your newsletter primarily about your mission (rather than primarily a direct appeal for holiday fundraising).
Promote on Social Media
5. Create a holiday campaign hashtag
Create a hashtag to help you pull and monitor any messages that mention your holiday fundraising campaign. Make sure to keep up with conversations, promptly respond to any questions or comments, and thank supporters by liking, favoriting, or retweeting their messages.
6. Change your profile and cover photos
Update your cover and background photos to reflect your branded holiday fundraising campaign. This is an easy way to increase campaign awareness and motivate casual profile visitors to learn more about your initiative. Include links back to your donation page or campaign micro-site in the image descriptions.
7. Pin a tweet or Facebook post to the top of your profile page
Twitter and Facebook both allow you to pin one message to the top of your feed, making it the first thing visitors see when they hit your page. On both networks, pin a message about your holiday fundraising campaign, and include a branded image and link back to your website.
8. Complement your email campaign
Create consistency across your communications by reiterating email campaign announcements on your social networks. For example, if you just announced a matching campaign over email, post and tweet about it to increase your reach.
Keep in mind these time-sensitive posts should supplement your social media strategy, not comprise all of it. Continue to post engaging, campaign-specific content tailored for each network’s specific audience, and make sure your posts don’t all include a direct ask.
9. Include visuals in your posts
It’s well known by now that visuals boost engagement on social media. According to a 2013 Pew Research Study, nearly half (47%) of all adult Internet users repost photos and videos they’ve found online. Help your posts attract eyeballs and clicks by attaching photos, infographics, videos, or other graphics. Brand these to reflect your holiday campaign so viewers get inspired to give back this season.
Your Custom Donation Page
10. Create a branded donation page
You should have a branded checkout page for all of your campaigns, but it’s an absolute necessity during the holidays. According to a 2012 report by Network for Good, in December alone, organizations with branded donation forms brought in 6 times the donations and raised an average of $5,000 more than organizations with generic donation pages.
Create a custom donation form that is branded specifically for your holiday fundraising campaign. Carry over any imagery and copy used in your email appeals onto your donation form as well. This consistency in branding and messaging reassures donors that their gifts are going to the campaign they intend to support, increasing their chances of completing the checkout process.
11. Customize giving levels for different donor groups
While you’re at it, produce better results this season by whipping up custom checkout pages for donors of different giving capacities. Segment your contacts by past average gift amounts (eg. lower-tier, middle-tier, higher-tier), and during your email campaign, direct each group to different donation forms with appropriate default gift ranges. People tend to give more during the holidays, so you can use this tactic to encourage certain groups of donors to increase their gift amount, without unintentionally downgrading larger donors.
Make no mistake about it, your holiday fundraising campaign is one of your most important initiatives of the year. Accordingly, you need to promote it front and center through all of your communication channels. Follow these practices to make sure your organization stays top of mind this holiday season!