The final quarter of the year is here and it’s the BEST time for fundraising!
There’s finally a nip in the air and people are thinking about the upcoming holidays, which always leads to thinking about giving back.
In other words, they’re starting to think about who they’ll give to before the year ends.
If you’ve done a good job staying on their radar, they’re thinking about you.
If you haven’t, well, you still have time to build up the ‘know, like, and trust’ factor and motivate folks to support your good cause.
There’s SO much to do. So, where do you start?
Here are 13 tips that will set you up for big fundraising success at the end of the year:
1. Lay out a plan. What do you want to accomplish? How much money do you need to raise? This is no time to be reactive. Lay out a proactive plan that includes all the fundraising activities you want to accomplish before December 31. No one raises big money in reactive mode. And a plan will make it easier to get volunteers and your Board involved. (If you were at the Inspired Fundraising Retreat, there’s a 3-page Year-End Fundraising Checklist in your workbook.)
2. Use consistent messaging.Think about what you need to say to warm your donors’ hearts, and use the same language over and over through your newsletters, social media, and everywhere you interact with donors and prospects. Consistent messaging will stick in people’s minds and help them remember your good cause. Your core message can be simple like “let’s make hunger history” or “every life matters.” Just figure it out, make it donor-focused, and use it repeatedly across the next three months.
3. Get your website ready for visitors.Make sure your website is updated and ready when people visit. Most people will check you out online before they make a gift. There’s nothing worse than a donor or prospect visiting your website and finding information about an “upcoming event” that happened in 2009. Also make sure that your core message is front and center on the website – it helps tie things together in the donor’s mind. Be sure your “Donate Now” button works and that there’s a warm, sincere Thank You note ready to be automatically delivered when someone gives online.
4. Stock up on photos and stories of lives you’re changing.You should always be on the lookout for stories from the front lines that you can use to inspire your donors. Photos are even better. A few hours of gathering stories and details can reap big rewards and bring you lots of new material for your communications. Be sure to get releases for both and protect the privacy of your subjects as needed (you may need to strip out names or identifying details). Then share these stories liberally with your donors and prospects. People love stories, especially when there’s a happy ending!
5. Look for touch-points for your best donors.Make sure that your best donors get multiple warm touches during Fundraising Season. Thank-you phone calls, Holiday cards with no Ask, or invitations to stewardship events like an Open House can make a donor feel valued. These efforts are particularly important because you aren’t asking for money. Think about it: if you show up with your hand out every time you’re in their mailbox or inbox, they’re going to get mighty tired of hearing from you. These warm touches will make sure that doesn’t happen.
6. Optimize your newsletters.Make sure your newsletters between now and year-end have powerful, donor-based messaging, great photos, and help the donor feel good about supporting you. This is your time to shine the spotlight on the good work your organization does. Remember – it’s about them, not you, so share the stories and details your donors want to know.
7. Expand your speaking schedule.Reach out to the civic clubs in town and see if you can get on their program schedule. Public speaking is one of the best ways to spread the word about your cause and get in front of ideal donor prospects. Check with your local library or Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a list of area clubs. Then tune up your presentation to make sure it starts by highlighting the need, shows how your nonprofit is poised to meet the need, and tells the story of a life that’s been changed by your organization. Finish with a clear call to action so you can walk away with new contacts, donors, volunteers, supporters, and maybe even more speaking gigs.
8. Pitch a story to your local news media.Getting on television or in the newspaper is still a great way to let lots of people know what your nonprofit is doing. It also helps build credibility for your organization, and can help you recruit new volunteers or supporters. The key is to pitch an interesting story that media folks will be interested in. The easier you make it for the media to use or run your story, the higher the chance you’ll get the kind of placement you want.
9. Let your Board members know how they can help.Share your plan with your Board members and invite them to choose where they’d like to help. Be prepared to have individual conversations with them – asking them as a group results in nearly no one raising their hand to help (but you already know that, don’t you?). When you have several very clear, well-defined activities for them to choose from, your chances of greater participation go up. After all, we all like knowing exactly what we’re saying ‘yes’ to and what’s expected of us.
10. Share a great video online.If you don’t have a powerful video of your nonprofit in action, get one created and share it on Facebook, YouTube, and your website in mid December. People are in the mood to feel good about organizations doing good work. Plus, it’s a great way to showcase your nonprofit’s activities.
11. Send a powerful appeal. It won’t do you any good to do all these other things if you’re not actually ASKING for a gift. And you need to do it a couple of times during Fundraising Season. Be sure to stay focused on the donor and tell them a story that inspires them and moves them to give. Ask for a specific amount and share exactly how that donation will change someone’s life. Then give clear instructions on how the donor should give – “return your gift in the envelope provided” or “click here to give online.”
12. Keep the beat on social media. Be prepared to show up consistently on Facebook and Instagram during Fundraising Season. Your social media posts may not be the reason people give, but they certainly help remind donors and prospects that you’re there and that you’re doing good work. Post several times a day (you can use a tool like Buffer to schedule these), and vary the content. In other words, don’t just ask, ask, ask. Share things your donor is interested in – success stories, links to related articles, memes, funny things… get creative with it! The key is to plan it out so you don’t miss a beat.
13. Pour on the sizzle! You can easily add the WOW factor for your donors by getting a little creative. Host a Thank-A-Thon where donors get a thank-you call from a volunteer or Board member. Send your best donors a personalized Thank You video from the front lines of your organization. There are dozens more ideas out there – the point is to surprise and delight them. The extra time it takes to add the sizzle can result in bigger gifts or additional gifts this holiday season.