5 Year-End Fundraising Strategies for Your 2020 Appeal
by Mike Montalto
November 5, 2020

Do you have questions about how to approach your year-end fundraising strategy?

Of course you do! Fundraisers spend the last few months of a normal year searching for ways to connect with their donors and raise more money. And in 2020, we have our work cut out for us like never before!

On October 28, we hosted a special edition of our “At Home with Amy” webinar series. This month, we brought fundraisers together, from organizations large and small, to brainstorm year-end fundraising strategies with their peers.

Here are five of the most important strategies our group of fundraisers discussed:

Use an appeal calendar to plan multiple touch points

1. Make a calendar for your year-end appeal.

Every organization should strive to build a year-long communications calendar. But that’s quite an undertaking. And as always, it’s important to start somewhere and build up as you go.

So why not start with your year-end fundraising plan? After all, your year-end outreach consists of much more than one direct mail appeal. Or, at least it should.

Using a calendar to plan communications can help you incorporate different messages in different mediums to engage your audiences.

And it’s important to build your calendar with room to pivot. For example, you may be tempted to use your appeal letter to talk about what a crazy year this has been!

However, information around the pandemic has changed rapidly. And you can’t make updates once your appeal is in the mail! So, consider working these messages into your email strategy, while being more general in your appeal letter.

This way, you can keep your message current until the moment you press send!

READ: Moving to a Digital First Fundraising Strategy During a Crisis

2. Be mission focused.

Remember to stay focused on your mission while planning the different messages in your communications calendar. One of the easiest ways to do this is by building on  common elements used in each appeal.

Does your appeal feature a picture of an important person or setting in your story? Use the same image in your mailer, emails, and social media posts!

If you have a slogan or subheading for your year-end fundraising strategy, feature it prominently in all of your communications. Use the same typeface and font color to connect the dots for donors.

Speaking of connecting the dots, your call-to-action is another great way to be more mission focused. Be more specific in your ask and tell donors exactly what their donations do for the cause.

You be the judge! Which is stronger:

  • “Will you give $50 today to feed hungry children?”
  • “By giving $50 today, you can feed 10 children who would otherwise go to bed hungry.”

You can apply the same approach to the clickable donation buttons in your emails. Don’t just settle for the standard, “Donate Now.” Connect the CTA to your mission with something like “Feed the Children.”

READ: Why Your Nonprofit’s Call-to-Action Doesn’t Inspire Donors

Non-ask communications can include

3. Send non-ask communications.

It’s important to show your donors you are always thinking of them. And this is especially true before you make an ask!

But non-ask communications can include a lot more than a thank you note. You should find ways to engage your donors before you ask. Then have a plan to follow up and keep them interested after they give.

Phone calls, personalized video messages, gifts like a framed photo from an event, newsletters, and donor surveys are all great ways to reach out without making an ask.

And make sure your donors know about the charitable benefits of the CARES Act! Your donors can deduct more of their giving this year than ever before! Send a postcard, email, or make a post on social media to make sure they are in the loop!

READ: Educating Your Donors About the Charitable Benefits of the CARES Act

4. Touch base with volunteers.

Nonprofit professionals love their volunteers. And volunteers love to make a difference with the help of likeminded organizations. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we think about volunteer opportunities.

And while your volunteers certainly still care about your mission, they may not know what they can do to help right now.

So, consider sending your volunteers a survey to touch base and see how they are doing. Include questions about what they do for work, or any unique skills they may have.

You won’t know if one of your volunteers works as a web developer if you don’t ask. Maybe they can volunteer to help optimize your donation page or build a new section of your site!

Some of your volunteers may be able to help with your social media outreach or building your data base. But they won’t think of these ways to help on their own. And you won’t know if they are interested and able if you don’t ask!

READ: Using a Donor Survey to Better Understand Your Audience

The number of gifts less than $250 increased by 19.2% in Q1 and Q2 2020 compared to Q1 and Q2 2019

5. Analyze giving trends.

As you know, your data can tell you a lot about where to take your fundraising outreach. But sometimes, you just don’t know where to start!

Well, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the number of gifts of less than $250 increased by 19.2% in Q1 and Q2 2020, compared to Q1 and Q2 in 2019.

Donors still want to give, but there is still a lot of economic uncertainty as we deal with the pandemic. So, many donors are making smaller, more frequent gifts than a single large donation during the year.

Look into your data and see if this trend holds true for your organization. If so, consider what this tells you about where to take your year-end fundraising strategy. Maybe this is the time to launch a monthly giving program!

READ: 5 Keys to Starting and Sustaining a Monthly Giving Program

Learning from others.

Opportunities to connect and brainstorm with other likeminded fundraisers can help you see things from a different angle, find new strategies for your organization, or get help from someone who struggled with a similar issue!

So, whether it’s our own webinar series, a virtual roundtable, or just picking up the phone to ask someone a question, make sure you connect with other fundraisers and discuss your year-end fundraising strategy.

As Amy said to close the webinar, “Pat yourselves on the back for the fact that you’re here. That you’re giving up your time to hear from other people, to get their input, share their thoughts, and take on this 2020 year-end like the powerful, powerful people that we are, that support these really important organizations.”

What else did you miss?

Check out the full recording of “At Home With Amy: A Discussion on Your 2020 Year-End Fundraising” below!

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