5 Helpful Tips for Nonprofit Giving Season: Get The Most out of it

5 Helpful Tips for Nonprofit Giving Season: Get The Most out of it

giving season tips for nonprofits

The last quarter of the year is a great time for fundraising. December is often the busiest time of year for donations — particularly as the year comes to a close. Around 31% of donations are made in December alone and 12% come in the final three days of the year.

Your donors often feel generous as the giving or holiday season approaches. Many will also be looking to make year-end donations for tax relief. If you’re not giving your fundraising efforts an extra push towards the end of the year, you risk missing out on this.

This article will help you with the 5 essential tips to make your season of giving a successful one.

  1. Create an effective campaign
  2. Promote your campaign
  3. Optimize your donation page
  4. Get your board members involved
  5. Follow up on donations

Why Giving Season Needs an Action Plan

Just because donors can be more likely to give at the end of the year, don’t automatically assume they will. You need to have innovative but fast-to-implement ideas for days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Along with that, prior planning and a fundraising strategy to make them successful.

Many nonprofit organizations hold back a sizeable chunk of their marketing budget for fundraising season. Allocating 30-35% is reasonable since donation rates are much higher in the last quarter. This can help your organization make the most of donor generosity at this time of year.

Not sure how to approach this season? Don’t panic if you don’t have a plan in place. We’ll walk you through how to maximize donations.

5 Tips to Maximize Donations During The Season of Giving

Not sure how to make the most of your year-end fundraising drive? Use these tips to guide your efforts.

Tip 1: Create an Effective Campaign

To get the most from the holiday season, look at it from a campaign perspective. This can help your organization plan ahead and take advantage of the giving spike.

1.1 Look Back at Last Year’s Numbers

Did your nonprofit get involved in Giving Tuesday last year? Look back at your successes and where you could improve.

A few helpful questions to ask:

  • What was the theme of your campaign last year?
  • How many supporters did you reach out to during the fundraising season?
  • How many donations did you receive?
  • How often are these supporters engaging with your organization?
  • How much do you raise in total during this time?
  • How many donations came through your donation page?
  • How many donations came through other channels?
  • How many major gifts did you receive?
  • What type of channels did you use to promote your campaign last year?
  • How did you follow up with donors afterward?

If your donation page didn’t attract and convert many donors’ last season, look at how you can improve this. Are you making the donation process too complicated?

Think about the donor demographics your nonprofit organization targeted last holiday season. How successful was this? Where could you improve?

1.2 Set Fundraising Goals

How much do you plan to raise? Set some SMART fundraising goals to help plan your year-end giving campaign.

Your goals should be:

  • Specific – Is your year-end giving goal specific and not vague? Tying your giving or holiday season goals back to your mission can help make them specific.
  • Measurable – Is it easy to know when you’ve reached your goal(s)? Setting a target amount can make it easy to track your progress.
  • Attainable – Is it realistic to target this amount by the end of the season? Referring back to previous totals can help.
  • Relevant – How does your fundraising season goal link to your organization’s work? What impact do donors have when they give to your campaign?
  • Time-Based – SMART fundraising goals always have a deadline. That’s easy here — it finishes at the end of the year!

1.3 Tell Emotional Stories Through Your Campaign

Pick a theme for your year-end campaign. This helps nonprofit organizations stay consistent with the messages you send in the last quarter of the year. This theme may be completely different from campaigns you’ve run previously in the year.

Powerful fundraising campaigns create empathy with your donors. Storytelling can play a key role in this. Promote the “human” aspects of your work to appeal to the emotions of your supporters. High-quality images that link to your nonprofit’s mission can drive emotions.

Use “you” language to put your donors at the center of your campaign. This helps them feel they can make a real difference through their year-end giving. If they’re already thinking about giving in the last few months of the year, this can provide a push to get them over the line.

1.4 Set Out Your Campaign Timeline

Your campaign plans need to start early to take the stress out of your year-end fundraising goals.

This allows your nonprofit organization to plan your communications, especially around #GivingTuesday. You don’t want to be scrambling to do everything last minute — this makes it more likely you’ll miss out on donations.

Set your goals, confirm your campaign theme, and look back at past campaigns in September.

In October, you can write your year-end campaign and optimize your donation channels.

In November and December, you can email your donors — especially those that haven’t donated so far this year.

Your initial emails can show the impact your campaign will have. Follow this up with a second round of emails that specifically ask for donations. Lots of people are looking for ways to reduce their tax in the last quarter of the year and your year-end campaign can jump on this.

Tip 2: Promote Your Campaign

Ready to put together your year-end campaign? Try these tips for writing and promoting it:

2.1 Segment Your Existing Donors

Leveraging your existing donors is a simple way to get more from fundraising season.

You can use donor management tools to see when they last donated. People who have only just donated may not want to give again during the this season, for example.

This can help you focus more of your efforts on people who may donate at this time of year.

You can also segment by average gift size and recurring donors versus one-time donors. This can help personalize your emails in line with donor history.

Pro tip #1: If certain donors have a history of year-end giving, send them an email sharing the impact of their last year’s donations and thank them for giving. You can introduce them to this year’s campaign in your next set of communications.

Pro tip #2: Segmenting your donors can help you see if you have good candidates for year-end giving. You can reach out to these donors, especially if they have a history of above-average gifts. With Donorbox, you can export to CSV and see donor history. With Donorbox Donor Management, you get segment your donors as per important filters such as locations, donation amounts, donation frequency, campaign, time-frame, and more. Here’s a glimpse into it –

Get Started With Donorbox

2.2 Sharing Stats on Donations

Infographics are a great way to show the impact of donations.

Because infographics are in visual form, they’re easy to digest. People can see important information at a glance. Infographics are ideal for showcasing facts, statistics, and lists.

Pro tip: Create infographics that include key information about how donations are spent. Take a look at our infographics template post for more ideas on how you can use them.

2.3 Use Online Communications Effectively

Email, blog posts, and social media can be great ways to keep in touch with donors and encourage them to give.

Focus your nonprofit communications on your donors and the impact their donations will have. You can also reference how donations were spent in previous years. Doing this in infographic form can be highly visual.

Introduce your campaign to begin with and ask for donations later on. This warms up your donors and helps build stronger connections before you ask them to give.

Pro tip: It’s tempting to ramp up your communications as the season comes to a close, but it’s a fine line. If your emails and social media posts are too frequent, it can be off-putting for donors. Limit your communications to once per day and make the most of those messages.

2.4 Consider Offline Communications

Fundraising postcards can grab donors’ attention when they collect their mail. Physical mail is becoming less common these days and postcards will stand out. Sure, your donors are probably getting holiday cards but most organizations will do things online.

Design and branding are important for this type of tactic. Use high-quality images that reflect your campaign. Holiday-themed designs and images can work well too.

For the message itself, keep it short and heartfelt. You don’t have much space so your message needs to be effective.

Pro tip: As you’re sending out communication pieces, remember to note down the takeaway, any feedback, important suggestions, etc. Online or offline, Donorbox lets you keep track of all communication notes in the donor records. Whenever you communicate with your donors, you can open the respective donor record on Donorbox and add any communication notes to it. You can choose the channel of communication and the direction (as shown below) while adding notes. This helps keep track of all details to personalize communication pieces and better manage your donors in the long run.

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2.5 Promote on Facebook and Google

This time of the year is a great time to reach out to new donors. Many people are looking for an organization to support and if your mission resonates with them, they’ll likely jump on board with donations.

Facebook ads and Google Ad Grants are examples of how you can do this.

Facebook ads can help you reach your goals but it’s crucial to have a plan and budget before you get started. Ad costs can spiral if you don’t set a budget or a specific idea of what you want to achieve. During this season, your end goal is likely donations and encouraging potential donors to visit your website— make this the primary focus for your call-to-action.

Google Ad Grants are a low-cost way to put your organization in front of new supporters. Take a look at our Google Ad Grants guide for tips on how to apply and maximize your grant credit.

Many organizations allocate at least a third of their marketing budget to this.

Bonus: Here are 7 more ways you can get more donations to your website.

Tip 3: Optimize Your Donation Page

Before your campaign launches, think about whether you can improve your donation page.

What if your donation page makes it too complicated or time-consuming to take action? You can miss out on the extra donations that occur during the holiday season.

You want to offer a seamless checkout process to maximize the number of donors who will give in the last quarter of the year.

Not sure if your donation page is giving donors a user-friendly experience? Some helpful questions to ask include:

  • Is your donation page mobile-friendly? Lots of donors use their smartphones to donate. They may see your campaign on their mobile and click through to your donation page.
  • Can donors see the impact their contributions will have? Donation tiers are an effective way to do this and can encourage donors to give more.
  • Is your donate button easy to see? If donors have to hunt around for your donate button, they may decide not to give.

With Donorbox, it’s easy for nonprofit organizations to create a branded and optimized donation page that converts more donors. You can also embed your donation forms on your website or have them pop up.

Create a Customized Donation Page

Tip 4: Get Your Board Members Involved

Your board members can be great advocates for your year-end campaign.

A couple of ways you can get board members involved:

  • Encourage board members to write thank you notes to donors. You can also ask them to sign thank you notes or add a postscript at the end of appeal letters. Or ask them to sign holiday cards that will be sent out as thank you messages.
  • Arrange for board members to meet with major donors to champion your year-end campaign.

Tip 5: Follow Up On Donations

Once supporters have donated, act quickly with a thank you note and a receipt to confirm their tax deductible donations.

You can follow up later with a personal thank you note to build stronger connections with donors. Sending holiday cards can be a great way to do this during this season.

Pro tip: With Donorbox, an automated receipt is emailed to a donor after a tax deductible donation is made. You can customize these receipts in your Donorbox account settings.

Over to You

The final quarter of the year is very significant for charitable giving and many organizations find that it’s the time of year that’s most likely to bring in donations.

#GivingTuesday is a big part of this, particularly if you approach it with the right fundraising strategy.

With the right planning, you can make sure that this season is a big success.

And when the donations start rolling in, you’ll be glad you laid the groundwork!

Check out our nonprofit blog for more advice on fundraising and promotion.

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