Year-end fundraising in 2021 was unlike any other year that your nonprofit has encountered in the past. The nonprofit sector was still feeling the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as some efforts slowly returned to “normal.” As we leave year-end giving and you evaluate your results, it’s clear that planning ahead for 2022 will be essential— and luckily, your nonprofit’s technology can help you do that and more.
There are a variety of ways that your nonprofit’s technology can improve your year-end campaign operations. For a full look at how technology can elevate your efforts, explore DNL OmniMedia’s guide to year-end giving. But in this guide, we’ll highlight the following four ways that technology can elevate your year-end fundraising campaign:
- Accept gifts at any time and from any place.
- Host fundraising events that appeal to all supporters.
- Elevate communications with efficiency and personalization.
- Track results for future improvements.
At this point, the year-end giving season is almost a full year away, and your organization may not be in the position to invest in and implement new technology just yet. As you read this piece, consider the ways that you can elevate your existing software solutions to make the most of these benefits.
Further, take note of benefits that you may not be able to access with your current software lineup. If you’re finding that you’re unable to accomplish many of the strategies in this guide, consider conducting a comprehensive nonprofit technology assessment in the new year to understand the exact areas of disconnect between your technology and goals.
With that, let’s get started.
Accept gifts at any time and from any place.
Software solutions empower your nonprofit to accept online donations from any time and any place. A local supporter can donate during regular business hours, and a donor across the globe can do the same— though “regular business hours” in their time zone may be in the early morning hours for your nonprofit. This drastically increases the range of your year-end fundraising campaign, making it neither time nor location-limited.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Nonprofit organizations have been using online donation tools as part of their year-end fundraising strategies for many years, including but not limited to:
- Online donation pages
- Crowdfunding pages
- Text-to-give fundraisers
- Web store-based product fundraisers
- Peer-to-peer fundraisers
While these methods are tried and true, there are a few online fundraising strategies that are on the rise in 2022 that your nonprofit may not be using yet.
For example, Facebook fundraisers give your supporters the ability to start their own fundraisers on behalf of your nonprofit, with little to no effort needed from your organization itself. Unlike traditional peer-to-peer fundraisers, where your nonprofit has to create the overall campaign and individual fundraising pages for each participant, Facebook fundraisers add an additional level of convenience and flexibility by giving full control to your supporters.
Making the Most of this Benefit
Supporters have the flexibility to give on their schedule, so set up automated thank-you messages for each of your various online fundraising channels.
The steps needed to set up these automated messages will differ depending on the types of online fundraising you conduct and the software you use to do so. If your solutions allow it, customize these automated messages by populating the supporter’s name, gift amount, and the campaign they’re contributing toward. This will make the automated note feel more heartfelt and personal for the donor.
Additionally, consider ways that you can make the most of each online gift. With in-person fundraising, you can speak to supporters and share information that will encourage them to give in higher amounts. That’s not possible with online giving— but, you can include suggested gift amounts along with information about how a gift of that size would impact your mission.
When setting suggested gift amounts, consider your average online donation size and set amounts accordingly. So, if the average online donation for your nonprofit’s website is $25, set suggested gift amounts at $30, $50, and $100. That way, supporters can give more with the click of a button.
Lastly, integrate your fundraising software solutions with your CRM. Whether your nonprofit’s website, peer-to-peer tool, social media profiles, or online donation platform, the goal is for the data from those solutions to flow seamlessly into your CRM. This gives you a full picture of your fundraising efforts from within your nonprofit’s main database.
Host fundraising events that appeal to all supporters.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fundraising events in 2020 was clear, as those events either needed to be moved to the virtual sphere or canceled outright. However, the impact of the pandemic on 2021 events was less predictable and resulted in a predicament for many nonprofit organizations.
In 2022, you’ll likely be permitted to host in-person fundraising events for the year-end season. But, that doesn’t mean that hosting in-person events is the best way forward for your organization. For example, you may have supporters who feel:
- Safe returning to in-person events and eager to do so.
- Safe returning to in-person events but prefer the convenience of virtual options.
- Unsafe returning to in-person events and determined not to do so.
Luckily, technology makes it easier than ever to host multichannel fundraising events that appeal to all of your nonprofit’s supporters, as you can host in-person, virtual, and hybrid events.
Consider holiday galas, a common year-end fundraising event. You can invite a limited number of in-person attendees to join your staff at the venue and then use live-streaming software to broadcast the event to virtual attendees as well. This way, attendees can join the event from their preferred location.
Making the Most of this Benefit
Share a survey or poll with your nonprofit’s supporters to understand the level of interest for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, respectively. You may find that significant segments of your audience prefer one type over another, and you can structure your year-end calendar accordingly.
For example, if less than 10% of your support base is eager to return to in-person events, it may be worthwhile to eliminate in-person engagement for this year-end season. It wouldn’t make sense to invest in an in-person event that few supporters will attend. On the other hand, you may find that most of your audience wants to return to in-person, and it then becomes your job to find an in-person event management solution.
Beyond that, prioritize accessibility for any virtual event elements. For example, include closed captions or a sign language interpreter for all video and audio elements. Additionally, ensure your virtual event or live-streaming platform is tab-friendly, so individuals can navigate it using a keyboard alone if needed.
Elevate communications with segmentation and automation.
The year-end giving season is the biggest engagement opportunity of the year for your nonprofit. Not only are supporters inspired to give their time and funds due to the holiday spirit, but many are eager to give for tax purposes.
When a supporter makes a year-end donation or volunteers to give their time toward your campaign, thank each and every one for their unique efforts. However, this can be challenging when you’re in a period of higher engagement than ever.
Technology can elevate your year-end communications strategy by allowing you to:
- Segment your supporters. Sending mass emails to your audience as a whole is inefficient and can create a bad experience for your supporters, such as if a major donor is regularly receiving communications about volunteer opportunities despite having no volunteer history. Segment the supporters in your database into groups based on shared characteristics, such as support type (ex: volunteers, advocates, mid-level donors, major donors), age/generation, workplace, giving history, and more. From there, only send relevant communications to each group.
- Automate outreach. Your team doesn’t have time to manually type out every email and hit “send” on every text message. Marketing automation tools, including email marketing software and even your CRM, will allow you to schedule when a message should be sent following a specific action— such as a thank-you email sent 15 minutes after an online donation is made. This ensures that no supporters fall to the wayside during your busy fundraising season.
Sending communications before and after gifts are made forges long-lasting relationships with your supporters.
Making the Most of this Benefit
Consider innovative ways that technology automation can be used to not only elevate your communications but also your fundraising as a result.
For example, according to Double the Donation, up to 78% of match-eligible donors are unaware that their company offers a matching gift program. But, with automated matching gift software, you can discover which of your donors work for a company that offers such a program and send educational information to that donor to kick off the match process. This informs your supporters of valuable opportunities and increases the value of the donation they make to your organization.
Track results for future improvements.
Every software solution that you use during the year-end giving season collects data— both about the activities of your nonprofit’s supporters and your organization’s internal operations.
This year will be an interesting case study for year-end fundraising, as the nonprofit sector hasn’t quite returned to pre-pandemic operations. Collect data about your year-end fundraising efforts in your nonprofit’s CRM so you can look back on your efforts in the future and learn from this unique year.
This is an especially valuable practice if you partner with a nonprofit consultant to elevate your fundraising operations in the new year. This partner will appreciate having a breadth of information about your nonprofit’s audience and internal operations because they can use it to evaluate and discover opportunities for improvement.
Making the Most of this Benefit
Adding an influx of data to an already disorganized database only results in a greater amount of useless information.
Proactively prioritize data hygiene efforts to keep your CRM as accurate and “clean” as possible. For example:
- Audit and conduct a deep clean of your database before diving into year-end fundraising to resolve any initial issues early in the season.
- Create procedures for data entry, including who should enter what information and who will be responsible for fixing errors when they’re discovered.
- Standardize how you enter certain types of data, such as phone numbers, addresses, and titles, to input them uniformly.
And lastly, only collect data that will actually improve your nonprofit’s efforts. For example, remove unnecessary fields from your nonprofit’s online donation form to prevent collecting a multitude of information that will clog your database.
This year holds many unknowns for year-end fundraising, but your nonprofit’s technology can elevate your efforts. Incorporate these strategies and— if your software isn’t currently up to par— consider conducting a nonprofit technology assessment early this year to find areas for improvement. Good luck!