5 Fundraising Power Principles to End Your Year Strong

The nonprofit fundraising numbers make a compelling case for a strong end-of-year effort. A remarkable 30% of annual giving occurs in the last three months of the year and 12% of giving occurring in the last three days! Further, with 64% of total giving coming from individual donors in 2022, ensuring you have a well thought out strategy to attract these dollars is critical.

To take advantage of these powerful giving trends, preparation is key to ensure your organization secures meaningful results when competing with organizations across cause areas that are making a similar appeal. For insights into what will make your organization standout and ring above the buzz, we’ve connected with members of our Blackbaud Champions community who shared tried and true practices that will maximize the success of your year-end fundraising campaigns.

1. Analyze, Clean, and Segment Your Donor Data

A donor database cleanup steadies and directs your strategy so that you reach the right donors with the right message and the correct personalization. Accuracy should be a starting point to ensure your request for support punches through the noise.

“Scrub your data so it’s extra squeaky clean for your campaign! Run NCOA and address standardization, test email addresses, remove deceased record — this is a year-round effort, but extra important for a big end-of-year push.”

–Lauren Henderson, IT database administrator, Dexter Southfield

This clean-up process is a great opportunity to take stock of who is in your donor base. It should also prompt you to consider who you might be leaving out in your appeals, including younger donors, women with more earned income and resources, and people of color previously underrepresented in philanthropy. You can also take the opportunity to segment your donor base into groups so you can tailor your end-of-year appeals to be most effective.

This readying moment can serve as a great reminder that newer groups come to the practice of giving with a fresher set of eyes, new standards, and raised expectations around why you do what you do and how you do it.

2. Follow Up with Your Donors

Through year-round efforts, you may have received dollar commitments from donors whose payments you haven’t collected yet. Tracking the status of your pledges and developing a follow-up method as deadlines approach is key. With a positive sense of urgency, there are potent ways you can incentivize follow through.

Deadlines are amazing at inspiring action. Donna Fischer, director of development for UnityPoint Health – Grinnell Regional Medical Center Foundation, offers a reminder to time your communications “so those giving from IRAs have time to process their contribution requests, so their check arrives before end of year.” The same goes for employer matching gift programs.

Additionally, look at which of your donors you haven’t heard from recently. Make sure you contact top donors who haven’t given yet this year to ensure you are top of mind as they plan their year-end giving. “Pay extra attention to tags on top donors and reach out to those who haven’t given in a while or havent been contacted lately. Mainly, just try to figure out who may have fallen through the cracks and check in with them.”

– Danielle Pollock, administrative assistant for advancement, Heritage Christian University

3. Ensure that your organization’s digital experience is seamless and easy to navigate

Developing fresh and distinctive messaging that makes a case for support is and always has been a crucial step for launching a fundraising campaign. Your organization will need to make a strong impression and deliver a clear articulation of how you carry out your mission.

A strong impression includes making giving easy and streamlined. Give your appeal some strong legs to stand on by revisiting, refreshing, and optimizing your website, social media channels, and online donation form. During the campaign, you should aim to generate an influx of website traffic. Ensure that it is designed to inspire and prompt action, and that donors can easily navigate to your optimized online donation form. Always be testing and make sure your online experience is free of hiccups for your visitors. Is there drop off? If so, where? Identify the problem and optimize for maximized results.

In addition to developing solid landing pages, adopting an omnichannel approach will create more unique donor touchpoints without being repetitive or redundant. The shift to online and mobile giving is afoot, which means you can create more giving options for more audience groups. “In addition to segmenting and personalizing all of our communications, we are increasingly making our holiday/year-end fundraising omnichannel, with similar themes and design pieces within our mail, digital, social, and text.”

– Michael Ragsdale, director, community fundraising, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation

4. The Power of the Thank You

During this busy season, be sure to carry out your intentions to acknowledge and express gratitude for your audience and donors. Don’t let this moment pass you by. Many seasoned fundraisers and social impact professionals, such as Tyra Holloway, payroll specialist atthe Music Institute of Chicago, recommend sending out thank you notes as soon as possible. Best practice is to wait no longer than three days to issue a personalized thank you message. By elevating the priority of a heartfelt ‘thank you’ in your communication process, you send your donors a message that their connection to your organization and their decision to support your mission is felt. Stewardship is a two-way street. When donors demonstrate that your mission is a priority to them, make their relationship to you a priority.

To support the effort, engage your CEO, other key staff, and board members in making thank you calls, writing notes or emails. Fundraising is at its core, about building and deepening relationships with donors. These high touch moments are extremely valuable and not to be missed.

5. Share Your Results

And finally, here’s one last tip that will set your organization up to take a confident turn into 2024 planning and close the loop with your donors and your team. Sharing your fundraising results creates an important moment to celebrate your community, your team, and your organization. End-of-year giving participants will be eager to see how their contribution impacted your overall goal and ultimately how their involvement will impact your mission in the near and long term.

This is also an exciting opportunity to think beyond dollars. What else did your campaign achieve? Did you sign up any new volunteers or gain new followers? How did you impact a constituent’s life because of the money you raised? You should include these elements when sharing your success story.

In addition to giving your supporters the opportunity to celebrate with you, being transparent in your achievements establishes the trust needed to leave the door open for future donor participation.

End-of-year appeals are a big internal effort. It is evident that the success seen broadly by nonprofit organizations is worth the effort! Want to expand, scale-up, or activate even more steps? Blackbaud’s Ultimate End-of-Year Fundraising Toolkit is a power-packed, step-by-step guide with checklists, templates, and expert insights to help you develop and activate a fundraising strategy that is tailored to your organization and team.

Your Ultimate End-of-Year Fundraising Toolkit

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