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 30% of donations are made in December alone and 10% come in the final three days of the year.
Your donors often feel generous as the 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.
Why Fundraising 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.
Taking advantage of year-end giving can ease the pressure on your fundraising team.
Many 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 fundraising season? Don’t panic if you don’t have a plan in place. We’ll walk you through how to maximize donations.
How to Maximize Donations During Nonprofit Fundraising Season
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 for Nonprofit Fundraising Season
To get the most from nonprofit fundraising 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 last fundraising season campaign?
- 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 the fundraising season?
- 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 fundraising season campaign?
- How did you follow up with donors afterward?
If your donation page didn’t attract and convert many donors’ last fundraising season, look at how you can improve this. Are you making the donation process too complicated?
Think about the donor demographics your nonprofit targeted last fundraising season. How successful was this? Where could you improve this fundraising season?
1.2 Set Fundraising Goals
How much do you plan to raise during the nonprofit fundraising season? Set some SMART fundraising goals to help plan your year-end giving campaign.
Your fundraising season goals should be:
Specific – Is your year-end giving goal specific and not vague? Tying your fundraising 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 fundraising season? Referring back to previous totals from fundraising season 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 fundraising season campaign?
Time-Based – SMART fundraising goals always have a deadline. That’s easy here — fundraising season 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 your nonprofit 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 organization to plan your communications, especially around Giving Tuesday. 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: How to Promote Your Fundraising Season Campaign
Ready to put together your fundraising season 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 fundraising 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 fundraising season 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.
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 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 fundraising 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. This is perfect for helping you stand out — especially during fundraising season, when people are more receptive to donating.
Design and branding are important for this type of tactic. Use high-quality images that reflect your campaign. Holiday-themed design 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.
2.5 Promote on Facebook and Google
Fundraising season 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 fundraising 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.
Before your fundraising season 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 fundraising 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. Research shows that 24% of donations in 2018 were made using a mobile device.
- 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.
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 Fundraising Season Donations
Once supporters have donated, act quickly with a thank you note that confirms the payment.
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 the fundraising season.
Pro tip: With Donorbox, an automated receipt is emailed to a donor after a donation is made. You can customize these receipts in your campaign editor and 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.
Giving Tuesday is a big part of this, particularly if you approach it strategically.
With the right planning, you can make sure that the fundraising 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.