The season is upon us, and while some people are planning their Halloween costumes, nonprofit organizations across the country are preparing for their vital year-end fundraising campaigns. Why is the holiday giving season so important? With tax-deductions on their mind, and the spirit of giving in their hearts, the gifts are larger, and are given more freely than at any other time of the year. In fact, for most nonprofits in the United States, nearly 40% of their annual donation revenue comes in during the last 3 months of the year!
To help you get the most out of this year’s giving season, we partnered with our friends at Charity Dynamics to create a webinar full of tips and best practices that any nonprofit can use to make their holiday fundraising campaign a success.
Here, in no particular order, are the top 7 takeaways from that webinar.
Tell YOUR Story
Stories help us connect with others and they can be a great tool for engaging your audience. By sharing stories of previous success, current challenges, or of particular clients you’ve helped, you will give potential donors something to root for. Don’t be afraid to make your supporters the hero of the story – they’ll feel a part of the journey, and appreciate the recognition.
The key to telling a good story? Be authentic. People may know a lot about your cause, but they’ll give primarily because they feel a personal connection. Let your passion for your cause shine through, and don’t be afraid to express real gratitude, as well as the need for continued support.
Spread the News via Email
95% of online donors use email, and most are inundated with hundreds of commercial messages every month. While this makes email communication essential, care must be taken to make your messages stand out from the pack. Make sure your subject lines grab donors’ attention, and are personalized as much as possible to increase open rates; make your email content as compelling possible to boost engagement.
Think of each email in the context of the series of emails you’re sending. Crafting a compelling story arc, with each message building off of the last will keep people engaged, and increase donations over the long-run.
Embrace the Mobile Revolution
More and more people are engaging with nonprofits through their mobile devices. In fact 15% of all online donations are done through mobile devices, and that number is growing rapidly year after year.
More than a quarter of all emails are now opened on a mobile device, which means that the better they look on mobile, the more people will enjoy your messages and take action. Use responsive design to make sure your emails will look great on any device!
Segment Your Audience
Every organization’s audience will include a variety of groups like volunteers, fundraisers, advocates, and donors, with each coming from a wide array of motivations and backgrounds. Segment your audience to communicate most effectively to each group. As much as possible, donors should feel like you’re speaking directly to them and that you understand their needs and individual contributions. By knowing how the recipient has helped in the past, you can tailor your message to point them toward the next step.
Leverage Social Media to Expand your Reach
Engage with people in ways they prefer to communicate. With the majority of Internet users engaging in some form of social media, crafting a social media strategy is a vital component of any true multi-channel campaign.
Some social networks give you the option to create posts in advance and schedule them for later publication. Best of all, social media is a great way to expand the reach of email, blog, and other forms of online content that’s already been created, making it an extremely valuable and low-cost way to maximize the life of your content. The ease with which social media content is shared also makes it a great way to reach new supporters
Tracking the success metrics for this year’s campaign will make planning the next year-end appeal easier and more effective. The specific metrics you choose will be unique to your organization, but whatever the approach, make sure the metrics are actionable. Some of the metrics you might want to track include:
• $ raised and donors acquired by channel (email, social media, etc.)
• Cost of each $ raised and donor acquired
• Average donation size
• Average donation size by channel
• Email open & click rates
• % of existing donors who gave again
Establishing a baseline for this year’s success will help you create actionable goals the next time around. You’ll be able to see which strategies were most successful, and where there might be room for improvement. Make sure you debrief with your team after the campaign to get anecdotal feedback as well!
Cultivate Donor Relationships through the New Year
A fundraiser’s work is never done… Even after the ball has dropped in Times Square, there’s a lot you can do to increase the value you get from your holiday campaign. Take stock of your donor base. Look for trends and develop targeted communication strategies that appeal directly to certain groups within the community. While the automatic responses people received after making their gifts gave an immediate acknowledgement, now is the time to craft more personal emails thanking donors and fundraisers, and showing them the impact their gifts have on your organization’s mission.
Take the opportunity to educate donors, and invite them to be a bigger part of the cause through events and volunteer opportunities. Ask them to subscribe to your blog, follow you on twitter, and most importantly, turn their one-time gift into a monthly donation.
We hope you find these ideas helpful. If you have any specific questions, ideas, or just want a little extra support, please get in touch with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and of course, feel free to check out the full webinar, by clicking on the image below.
Photo Credit: Lauren Manning