Elizabeth Chung
How to Engage Donors Throughout the Entire Holiday Season

How to Engage Donors Throughout the Entire Holiday Season

While many organizations focus on the year-end ask, or plan one major 6- to 8-week holiday campaign, you can also plan one long initiative from September or October to December 31 By engaging donors consistently throughout the entire holiday season, your organization can remain top of mind for months on end. And, even if a supporter doesn’t give during the initial months, they will be more likely to think of your organization—which has been reaching out consistently—when it comes time to make their year-end, tax-deductible donation.

That being said, a campaign this long that repeats a single call to action from start to finish can fatigue donors. The trick to running a campaign like this is to keep donors engaged with regular, fresh opportunities. Here’s how you can launch a large year-end campaign that keeps donors interested from start to finish.

1. Choose One Cohesive Theme for the Entire Campaign

First, choose an overarching theme for your large initiative. Your theme comprises your basic marketing concept, and it creates a framework for your communications that will help keep your messaging consistent.

For instance, you might decide that all of your initiatives this holiday season will help “Take Kids Back to School.” Your fall fundraiser might raise money for scholarships while your year-end ask raises money for school supplies, but each initiative’s communications will express its role in helping children go back to school and continue their education.

2. Vary Calls to Action Throughout the Campaign

Rather than asking supporters to donate for four months straight, plan a campaign that offers a different call to action every few weeks. You might ask supporters to join your monthly giving program during September and October, and then ask them to send a gift of thanks during November. In December, you might ask supporters to donate their holiday gifts.

Consider these fundraising segments as “mini-campaigns” within your larger campaign. In the same way that a site visitor is presented with multiple options to get involved, you can offer your donor base a variety of ways to take action throughout the holiday season. Some of your asks can be softer, such as asking people to watch a video or share a story. People who want to take action only in a certain way are given the right opportunity, while others have the opportunity to give multiple times in different ways.

Here are a few calls to action you can roll out throughout your campaign:

  • Become a recurring donor
  • Send a gift of thanks
  • Donate a holiday gift using an e-card
  • Host a holiday dinner where guests attend for a donation
  • Donate your holiday gifts
  • Double your gift through our match campaign
  • Watch and share a video
  • Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter
  • Upload a photo or Vine using the campaign hashtag

Keep in mind that all calls to action, no matter what they are, should tie back to your general theme.

For example, let’s say you’re an organization that preserves global waters. Your campaign theme might be something like “End Ocean Life Extinction.” If one of your calls to action during the holidays is to join your recurring giving program, your messaging around the ask could be “Become a Monthly Donor, Help Sustain Marine Life.” If your ask during December is to adopt an animal, your message could be “Adopt a Sea Turtle, Preserve Species Around the World.” Each round of messaging still falls under the umbrella of your overarching theme, forming a cohesion among your asks.

3. Monitor Your Donor Segments

As you switch up your calls to action throughout the campaign, it’s also important to revisit your segments. You should split up your contacts by certain donor criteria to send tailored messages and increase returns. For instance, you can segment your donor list by the following:

  • Gift frequency
  • Average gift amount
  • Campaigns or programs they’ve donated to
  • Age

It’s also important that you revisit your segments as you switch your calls to action. For example, if one of your asks is to join your recurring giving program, you would have to re-segment your lists so that you don’t send this message to current monthly donors.

4. Steward Donors Between Asks

Once people do make a gift, drop them from your appeals until the end of the year. You don’t want to annoy them or make them feel like you’re unaware of their support.

What you can do is make softer asks. Lead people to your website and donation form without directly asking for money. For example, to give donors some space between your hard asks, send a message that simply thanks donors for all of their support this year. But, instead of including a bold CTA button asking them to donate again, just hyperlink a relevant phrase in one of your last sentences to your donation form.

Another way to keep supporters engaged is to keep up your regular communications, like your newsletter, during the holiday season. While your newsletter delivers updates about your organization, it can also present secondary asks for the reader to donate or to start a fundraising page, so that recipients can engage on a deeper level if they’d like. These asks aren’t the main focus of your message, but pepper them in so those giving options are available.

The one exception to this is at the end of the campaign. When it comes down to the last week of the year, it’s OK to ask all of your donors—even if they have already given—to make their year-end, tax-deductible donation. One final push over these last days can make a big difference in your holiday campaign’s overall fundraising results, so don’t hold anything back.

With one large campaign running throughout the entire holiday season, you have to hold onto your supporters’ attention the whole way through. Give them multiple ways to get involved, and you can improve your overall holiday fundraising results.

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