Think back to this time last year. Most nonprofits were full of excitement for year-end fundraising and hopeful for the prospects that 2020 was bound to bring before too long. Now, things have changed dramatically. 2020 turned out to be a more stressful and bizarre year than anyone could have anticipated and nonprofits are concerned about reaching their year-end fundraising goals.
Coronavirus has changed the approach that nonprofits have had to take when it comes to fundraising. However, one thing hasn’t changed: year-end fundraising is still likely to be one of the most lucrative time frames for your organization.
Fundraising can sometimes seem a little overwhelming in the last few months of the year, especially during a year as difficult as this one. But if you remember your general best practices and implement some effective strategies, you’ll be able to make the most of your year-end fundraising strategy and move forward with excitement and hope for 2021.
End-of-year fundraising can be an incredibly powerful tool for nonprofits when it’s used effectively and efficiently. In order to reach your year-end fundraising goals, follow these essential tips to include in your planning:
1. Ensure proper data hygiene.
Data hygiene is a term used to describe the cleanliness of your organization’s data. Your organization has good data hygiene if there are very few errors in your records.
Therefore, before your organization dives deeper into your year-end fundraising initiatives, make sure you clean up your CRM (customer relationship management) in order to best leverage the data within it. Try cleaning up your donor database by:
- Taking advantage of deduplication. Many CRM solutions have deduplication features built right in. Take a few minutes to scan your system (if it doesn’t do so automatically) and delete or combine duplicate donor profiles.
- Creating a data governance strategy. Work with professionals to create policies and processes to maintain an organized system. With an effective governance strategy, your organization can better sustain a hygienic database.
- Syncing data sources. Some services, like CodeMapper, help organizations translate various codes from legacy systems into single source code. This helps keep data sources clean too.
Once you’ve cleaned up your data in your CRM, you can confidently start reaching out to your donors and supporters for year-end donations.
Make sure to reach out to those who have maintained engagement throughout 2020. Be sure you’re conscious of the fact that many donors may have run into difficult economic conditions this year and provide a very convincing reason for supporters to contribute.
Also read: 5 Best Year-End Fundraising Strategies
2. To reach your year-end fundraising goal, consider past fundraising data.
Fundraising data from the past will help your nonprofit implement the best strategies towards the end of the year. Pulling reports from previous fundraising campaigns can help your nonprofit:
- Set realistic, attainable goals. Analyzing the fundraising results from last year can help inform the expectations you have for your campaign this year. Depending on the fundraising impact you’ve experienced throughout other campaigns this year, you can still make some predictions about the year-end fundraising revenue you can expect during 2020.
- Reach out to relevant supporters. Pulling donor analytics from previous fundraising campaigns will help you reach out to donors who have the capacity to give despite the economic difficulties of the year. Don’t limit yourself to these supporters though! You never know for sure who is willing and able to contribute if you fail to ask a wide range of supporters to give.
When you have access to all of the relevant data your nonprofit needs to reach out to supporters, start thinking about how this data plays into the rest of your strategy. How will you incorporate it into outreach? Are there reports you can set up to make this easier in years to come?
If you need further guidance, check out this fundraiser master planner by FundraisingIP to create a comprehensive plan.
3. Create a comprehensive calendar.
The best way to make sure you hit every item on your fundraiser checklist is to create benchmarks for yourself. Create a comprehensive calendar to finish out the year with all of your benchmarks and other important dates to make sure everything on your to-do list is completed on time.
Consider for instance the months leading up to the end of the year. Here are some recommendations for your year-end fundraising calendar:
- September – Start cleaning up your data and segmenting your list of donors. Segment your donors by their preferred outreach and types of fundraisers for clear marketing.
- October – Begin generating letters, blog posts, and other marketing content for the rest of the year. For effective ideas, check out donation request letter samples and templates here.
- November – Officially begin your campaign, sending off the first marketing emails for year-end giving. Don’t forget to start promoting #GivingTuesday which takes place at the beginning of December this year, too!
- December – Send an email updating your supporters on your campaign and the progress you’ve made so far. Then, call for more donations with another donation appeal.
Calendar months are a great guideline for your nonprofit to start creating a schedule. However, it’s important to remember that every organization is different, including yours! So having different goals and different benchmark dates for those goals is only natural.
4. Remember the benefits for donors.
One of the best things to remember at the end of the year is that year-end fundraising isn’t only beneficial for nonprofits. It also benefits the donors!
The major donor benefit of year-end giving? Taxes. This year especially, taxes create a major incentive for supporters to give. The CARES Act enacted above-the-line deductions for charitable giving through the end of the year. This means that individuals who take the standard deduction on their taxes can receive an additional $300 deduction for cash contributions made to eligible nonprofits like yours.
Of course, the other year-end benefit donors receive is the general good feeling of giving during a time of holiday generosity. Supporters receive a morale boost when they give during a time of year that generosity is pushed so heavily by society.
In order to take full advantage of these donor benefits, your nonprofit should take the following steps:
- Remind donors about the opportunities in your fundraising appeals. Make sure they know the impact for your organization, but also the benefits they’ll receive when they give. Be sure to inform them about the additional tax incentive for the year.
- Maintain engagement with your supporters. Don’t send them the same emails over and over again. Instead, use different appeals to keep donors interested and engaged throughout the year-end giving campaign.
By communicating the value that donors receive when they give to your nonprofit, you’re working towards your reputation as a donor-centric nonprofit. This reputation will help retain donors in the future too as they continue to develop a relationship with your organization.
5. To reach your year-end fundraising goal, don’t discount non-traditional gifts.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the fundraising goals your nonprofit has set for the year that you forget to also think about the non-monetary or non-traditional gifts that supporters give.
Some of the non-traditional gifts that nonprofits may receive amongst their regular year-end giving includes:
- In-kind giving. In-kind giving has become an incredibly effective strategy because it can provide greater insight into the impact that supporters can make for organizations. Fundraising has been more difficult throughout the year and greater impact makes a more compelling reason to give. Therefore, many organizations have put together registries and wish-lists for supporters to purchase items to give in-kind to organizations. They’re buying the items intended for a specific purpose, making the impact of their gift more obvious.
- Volunteering. While volunteers may not be giving your nonprofit items or money, they’re giving the gift of time, which, for some people, is even more valuable. This year, consider offering virtual volunteering opportunities as the year comes to a close. Plus, don’t forget they may earn financial contributions for your nonprofit too if their employer has a volunteer grant program. Check out 360MatchPro’s list of top companies with these programs to learn more about who may qualify.
- Matching gifts. If a company has a volunteer grant program, they likely also have a matching gift program. Matching gifts are charitable contributions by corporations that match an employee’s donation, usually at a 1:1 ratio. This means your supporter’s contribution may double without them giving an extra cent. Encouraging supporters to look up their eligibility for these programs can help you maximize your year-end fundraising strategy.
When supporters give these gifts, you should thank them with as much enthusiasm and gratitude as you do your traditional monetary contributions. This means you’ll also need a nonprofit donor database that stores data about any contribution, whether financial, timely, or in-kind.
While keeping your year-end giving goals in mind, don’t forget that your nonprofit may find help getting there through non-traditional gifts. Thank those donors profusely and let them know how much you value their gifts.
6. Track your fundraising progress.
As you collect one donation at a time and get closer and closer to your overall goal, make sure your nonprofit has an effective way to track your fundraising progress throughout the campaign.
Effective reporting tools can make all the difference in your year-end fundraising campaign. Your nonprofit should:
- Be sure you have access to real-time fundraising data.
- Set up automated, regular reports about your fundraising goals.
- Make sure you know the success rates of each campaign leading up to the end of the year so you can determine which was most successful.
Keeping an eye on the metrics of your campaign will help you better strategize for the year-end fundraising going forward. You’ll be able to see which appeals have been most effective and continue using them through January 1st.
Make sure to also track progress for your supporters. Implementing a fundraising thermometer for the end of the year provides a visual representation of your fundraising progress, encouraging supporters to continue giving and make more of an impact towards your goal.
Year-end fundraising is incredibly successful for nonprofits. Actually, some studies have shown that 30% of all annual charitable giving takes place in December. While this year has certainly been unique, that doesn’t mean you should relax your year-end fundraising efforts.
Therefore, taking full advantage of the end of the year is crucial for nonprofit success. Armed with these six effective tips, your nonprofit is ready to get started!
About the Author:
Leigh Kessler is VP of Marketing and Communications at donor management software platform CharityEngine and a frequent speaker on branding, fundraising, data and technology. He is a former nationally touring headline comedian and has appeared on numerous TV shows including VH1’s “Best Week Ever”, CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight”, Discovery Channel & Sirius Radio. He has overseen and informed research and branding strategies for some of the most well-known brands in America.