With the A/C on full blast and cold brew in hand, it’s hard to think about the negative wind chill and cups of hot cocoa that await us come December. But as one of Big Duck’s resident fundraising mavens, year-end campaign season–often dubbed “a nonprofit’s most financially rewarding time of the year”–is always on my mind. So why do I want it on yours? Well, it’s really never too early to get started, and I want to help make it easy—so let’s focus on the tools you already have: your brand and your donors.
Use your brand strategy to guide your fundraising
If you’ve worked with us, read Brandraising, or attended one of our workshops, you know that the heart of your brand strategy is positioning and personality. Positioning is the big idea that you hope supporters associate with your organization. It’s also what sets you apart. Personality is the set of attributes or feelings you want people to associate with your organization. With your organization’s positioning and personality in hand, you can develop or judge different creative themes for your fundraising campaign.
Because your year-end fundraising should be an extension of your work year-round, these communications should feel like an extension of your usual communications. Yes, your year-end campaign should be special, and this may be a time of year where you invest more time and money into what you send out. But if your year-end fundraising does not sound, look, and feel like you, your current donors may be confused and less likely to give. Use year-end fundraising to accentuate your incredible work and reinforce what they already know– and love– about you.
Appeal to your core donors – and acknowledge them too
Fundraising campaigns typically focus on renewing or appealing to existing donors, reinstating lapsed donors, and/or acquiring new donors. For year-end fundraising campaigns, we often recommend organizations focus first on renewing past supporters, either recent or lapsed, rather than running a major acquisition campaign to get new supporters. That’s because less than one of out of every three new donors renew their support (based on the latest data from Fundraising Effectiveness Project summarized by Bloomerang)–but when they do, they are 15% more likely to keep on giving–so the value of a donor retained can be far greater than that of one acquired.
By tailoring your approach to year-end fundraising to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you into the future.
As we enter the season of giving, be sure to give donors other actions to take beyond giving and remember to say ‘thank you’ to all of your supporters. This can be a great time to make phone calls, send hand-written notes, post a video message or thanks, and let donors know that you love them.
If you do want to acquire new donors through your year-end appeals, consider running a mini-campaign for #GivingTuesday. While some organizations just send out one email on #GivingTuesday, many nonprofits find success sending out multiple emails before, during, and after that day, as well as posting on social media channels and their website. If you acquire new donors on #GivingTuesday be sure to engage them once they give via a welcome series or a more segmented approach in your follow-up communications.
See this approach in action
If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into the year-end campaign process and creating your own plan, join me this August in Washington DC for my year-end fundraising campaign planning workshop. You’ll have the chance to huddle with other nonprofit professionals as you craft your most effective year-end fundraising campaign yet. You can also sign up for the same workshop in September at Foundation Center in New York City.
FARRA TROMPETER is Vice President at Big Duck, a communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits to help organizations reach supporters, build awareness, and raise money. She has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising and communications for nonprofit organizations. Farra’s expertise focuses on helping nonprofits create multichannel campaigns and rethink how to use their brand identity to connect with donors, activists, and other members of their community. She tweets about nonprofit fundraising and communications via @farra.