The year-end stretch is certainly the most wonderful time of the year if you’re fundraising for a nonprofit or other worthy cause. The numbers speak for themselves:
- 💰 Nonprofit organizations receive a whopping 50% of their annual donations during the last three months of the year (October, November, and December).
- 📅 12% of all annual donations occur during the final three days of the year (December 29, 30, and 31).
- 💛 Giving Tuesday, held the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving to push back against holiday consumerism, is at the center of year-end giving. In 2020, 34.8 million people participated in #GivingTuesday, a 29% increase from 2019.
What’s behind this trend? First, the holiday season is infused with the spirit of generosity and gratitude, whether it’s sharing a Thanksgiving meal, buying a gift for a family member, or donating to a toy drive.
Second, Giving Tuesday shines a huge spotlight on philanthropy and gives organizations a platform to make requests.
Third, charitable contributions are tax-deductible and the tax year ends December 31. So, some people make last-minute gifts to reduce their taxable income (and make a difference).
The giving season is highly anticipated, so you’ll need an airtight strategy to stand out among all the other nonprofit causes. Look no further! Read on to discover essential tips, tools, and techniques for better year-end giving. We’ll also share three successful year-end campaigns and what made them work.
7 tips to build a better year-end giving campaign
Make sure you’re polished and prepared for the biggest fundraising period of the year with the following strategies. Below, we explain seven ways to tweak your fundraising strategy before the New Year.
1. Reflect on past campaigns
You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been! Evaluate your past fundraising campaigns for the last year (or more) so you can understand which methods to keep and which to leave behind. You’ll need to have your key metrics handy. Answer the following questions:
- What was the average gift amount last year, and how could it be improved? (For reference, the average gift size for millennials is $481 across 3.3 organizations, while baby boomers donate an average of $1,212 across 4.5 organizations.)
- What was the average cost per donor?
- Which of your donor segments gave the most?
- What campaigns raised the most money?
- Which campaigns had the greatest engagement?
- What were the most popular campaigns with each donor segment?
- Which channels were best at converting donors (email, direct mail, social media, etc.)?
These details help you craft a data-driven annual giving plan and then set realistic goals for your end-of-the-year campaign. Also, it'll be easier to track the right metrics for next year.
2. Let software do the heavy lifting
It’s the busiest time of the year, and every minute you spend updating contacts, tallying up donation totals, or sending confirmation emails by hand is time you aren’t connecting with donors. Givebutter offers a robust suite of nonprofit management tools to help you raise money and stay organized—all completely free:
- Online fundraising platform: Build fundraising pages, create donation forms, and sell event tickets with a free fundraising platform like Raise.
- Email marketing platform: Quickly design engaging marketing emails and transactional emails (confirmations and receipts) with an all-in-one tool like Engage.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) system: Store and analyze supporter information and understand your donor base with a free CRM like Track.
Hand the menial work over to the robots!
3. Optimize your website
Put your year-end giving campaign front and center on your website. One option is to completely update your homepage with your year-end campaign messaging. For instance, change it to a holiday theme, update your headline, and add your campaign hashtag. Or, keep your homepage the same but create a pop-up box with your year-end appeal and a donate button.
Pro tip: To maximize online giving, double-check that your website is mobile-optimized for people viewing your site using their smartphones—59% of all nonprofit website visits come from mobile phones and tablets.
4. Engage with your donors well before year-end
We’ve talked before about the importance of engaging with your donors regularly, and this is especially true when it comes to the year-end giving season. Don’t wait until October or November to reignite these relationships! Have multiple touchpoints to ensure supporters feel involved, seen, and heard year-round.
In strategy #1, we had you take a look at which donor segments gave the most and campaign success by segment. That’s because donor stewardship isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. You may find that you need a different outreach strategy for each segment (major donors, recurring donors, new donors, prospective donors, volunteers) or demographic. Consider placing phone calls, launching an email campaign, or using SMS invites to target different segments for your campaign.
5. Create a sense of urgency
Even the strongest year-end giving campaigns have to battle against apathy—the human tendency is to say “I’ll give later.” To make sure donors give now, you’ll have to create a sense of urgency. Here are some techniques:
- Use strong language: Phrases like “hurry,” “now,” “today,” “tonight,” “fast,” “deadline,” “immediate,” and “don’t miss out” work well. They’re especially useful for your email subject lines.
- Give a reason: Donors will ask “Why now?” and “Because we want you to” isn’t a good answer. Think about what truly motivates your donors to give.
- Try a matching gift campaign: Set a deadline for donors to get their funds doubled or tripled.
- Offer different giving levels: Create different giving tiers so supporters can give the donation amount they're most comfortable with.
- Make it relevant: If your cause was recently in a major news story (global or local), use that as a jumping off point in your messaging.
Don’t forget to follow up. If your supporters rushed to donate or sign up, be just as quick with your “thank you.”
6. Seek out collaborations
Doritos x Taco Bell. Uber x Spotify. Louis Vuitton x Supreme. Your organization x the perfect partner. A thoughtful collaboration—whether it’s a corporate sponsorship, matching gift program, or a new joint program—can maximize your fundraising efforts. It’s a great way to increase your brand exposure, gain a new audience, and get some fresh ideas at the year’s end.
Harnessing the power of collaborations for your nonprofit isn’t as hard as you might think! As long as your goals and core values align, you can reach out to everything from major retail brands and employers to the local bookstore. Get inspired by these nonprofit collaboration examples.
7. Emphasize recurring giving options
Did you know that the retention rate for monthly givers is 90%? It’s even more impressive when you know that the retention rate for the average donor is just 43%. That means half of your one-time donors might not be there next year!
If you need weekly, monthly, or quarterly gifts, be direct about it. Explain how it’s different from a one-time gift and why it’s so important. (One of our campaign examples below does this really well.) Be sure to emphasize the benefits of recurring giving for donors, not just your organization. For instance, donors can “set and forget” their contributions, or do smaller, regular donations instead of one major gift.
To start accepting recurring gifts, all you need to do is add a “Make it a recurring gift” option to your donation pages.
Check out these 3 successful year-end campaigns
The strategies we’ve covered really work, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Sneak a peek at the playbook of three fundraisers that smashed their year-end campaign out of the park.
Feminist Frequency End-of-Year Campaign 💻
Mission: Feminist Frequency is a not-for-profit educational organization that analyzes the modern media’s relationship to societal issues such as gender, race, and sexuality. Check out Feminist Frequency’s year-end campaign.
What we loved about their campaign
- Short and sweet: They provided a quick recap of the year’s big achievement and re-emphasized their mission and values.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising: The organization’s founders and partners took advantage of peer fundraising, a powerful tool that leverages the family, friends, and social network of each fundraiser.
- Clear goals: They broke down exactly where online donations go, from expanding hours for their Harassment Hotline to launching a leadership program.
STARability 2020 Year-End Campaign 📚
Mission: The STARability Foundation transforms the lives of individuals with disabilities through social, vocational, and educational connections to the community, while strengthening awareness and respect for individual abilities. Check out STARability’s year-end campaign.
What we loved about their campaign
- Impact story: They put a face to their cause by sharing the story of Matt, a STARability beneficiary, and showed how donors’ contributions kept him connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Recurring giving: They encouraged their donors to become monthly supporters and emphasized the impact of monthly gifts throughout their campaign page.
- Transparent donation levels: In their Giving Tuesday campaign, they explained exactly what each gift size accomplished.
Lifetime Wells International Year-End Fundraising Campaign 🚰
Mission: Lifetime Wells International improves the quality of life for communities in Ghana and Tanzania by providing access to safe drinking water. Check out Lifetime Wells International’s year-end campaign.
What we loved about their campaign
- Images and videos: They weaved lots of powerful images and videos into their fundraising page, one of the most effective Giving Tuesday strategies.
- Matching gifts: They secured a matching gift donor, allowing them to more than double their fundraising goal and fund 13 wells instead of the six they originally planned.
- Non-financial ways to help: They recognized that not everyone can donate and provided alternative ways of contributing, like sharing their page on social media.
Our gift to you: Free, easy year-end fundraising 🎁
There’s no better time of year to meet your fundraising goals and gain new followers.
Start planning early so you have plenty of time to analyze your metrics, refresh your website, develop an urgent fundraising appeal, and engage, engage, engage with your supporters.
At Givebutter, we love helping individuals and teams fundraise better—that’s why we’ve launched the world’s first completely free end-to-end fundraising platform. Plus, we’ve compiled everything you need to run a successful Giving Tuesday campaign on Givebutter, including an ultimate Giving Tuesday playbook, a three-part webinar series, and our own legen-dairy plan to unleash generosity on this global day of giving. For the first time ever, Givebutter will donate $50,000 to 25+ nonprofits on Giving Tuesday!
Sign up now for an all-encompassing fundraising experience: make interactive fundraising pages, send beautiful emails, accept every payment method, track donor engagement, and create exciting fundraising events for your year-end giving campaign.
Kylie thrives on supporting others, going above and beyond every task, making everyone’s jobs easier, and cinnamon in her coffee.