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Expert tips to increase year-end fundraising

Posted October 4, 2016 by Timi Paccioretti

Year End fundraising

This year’s giving season is expected to see more than $30 billion in donations! With the majority of donations coming in December and, more specifically, the last week of the year, it’s no wonder that there’s tons being written about how to take advantage of the biggest giving season of the year. Need help consolidating all that information into actionable steps for your year-end fundraising campaign? Read on for some tips from the experts on how to increase your year-end fundraising:

From Vanessa Chase of the StoryTelling Nonprofit:

In Vanessa’s recent article, 5 Things you can do this week to get organized for year-end fundraising, she quotes Ben Franklin: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” Vanessa believes this advice absolutely applies to year-end fundraising, and I whole-heartedly agree! In this busy season, every minute counts.

Vanessa’s tips on getting better organized:

  1. Create a master calendar for October – December. Add important dates for activities and tasks happening in this three-month period. Put in your appeal mailing dates, dates to get things to the printer, Giving Tuesday, your scheduled thankathons, etc. Believe it or not, writing them down will help you stay organized and on track. It’ll also make explaining why you can’t add another event to your calendar much easier.

  2. Create a master task list: Keep track of what needs to be done, when, and by whom. This way, you don’t have to do it all alone. Delegate when you can, and enlist your board and volunteers’ help. Check your list every day to stay on track and see where help is needed. Nothing is worse than when someone asks how they can help and you’re so busy you just don’t know!

  3. Develop and update your system and processes. The two most overlooked tasks in year-end campaigns are donor acknowledgment and stewardship. Review your thank you letters and the acknowledgment process you have in place to ensure you’re thanking your donors promptly.

  4. Determine the stories for your appeal. Knowing what stories to tell and how they will resonate with your donors is a key element to a successful campaign. Check out Sandy Rees’ tips for how to tell a heart-grabbing story.

  5. Carve out time for unexpected fires and new opportunities. It’s a busy time of year. By building in unscheduled blocks of time to deal with the unexpected, you’ll be able to deal with the stress of the season better.


From Gail Perry of FiredUp Fundraising:

Gail Perry offers great tips on activities to add to your master calendar in her article 3 Year-end Annual Fundraising Tips You Haven’t Thought About.

Tip #1: Hold a Thankathon before you solicit your donors for a year-end gift to help “warm up” your donors for another ask. Gail recommends thanking donors for the concrete impact THEY are making, rather than offering generic thanks for making your organization successful. Not sure if a thankathon is for you? Download Claire Axelrad’s free ebook: Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors and Keep Them For Life for additional ways to creatively express your gratitude.

Tip #2: Find a way to ask your donors to fund something specific, even when you need to raise unrestricted income. Think carefully about how you craft your message. By telling your prospective donors what it costs to “run” a needed program and how their gift will benefit “x”, you’ll give them the specificity they crave and the ability to allocate their gifts to your organization’s most important programs.

Tip #3: Follow up, follow up, follow up! Gail says this is a key component to a successful year-end appeal. She offers a quote from friend Mal Warwick: “One appeal letter might bring about a 14% return, but a follow-up appeal or telephone call can raise that return up to about 42%.”

Gail suggests never sending just a single letter. Plan to follow it up with a second ask or call. The follow-up should be a quick reminder – brief, to the point, and cheerful, but with a specific ask. Keep the same branding and look and feel of your first ask to ensure consistency and not make it appear as if this is a different or new ask.


From John Haydon:

John offers some great tips in his recent article, How to prepare for a successful year end fundraising campaign. Here are some of his insights:

Successful preparation for your year-end campaign begins with understanding your people. Successful nonprofits understand that each person has a different relationship with their organization, and a specific strategy needs to be created to capitalize on that relationship. John recommends learning to understand what motivates your donors. Review their past giving, what they gave to, and what solicitation strategies worked best. A good donor management system can help make this work easy.

Once you know what motivates your donors, find the trigger that will elicit an emotional response. Developing your organization’s story and carefully crafting your message and your ask will help show your supporters where the need is and how they can play a part in fulfilling it.

Lastly, John’s guidance is to write it all down in a comprehensive fundraising plan that includes your objectives, the strategies you’ll use to reach them, and a clear definition of the tactics you’ll use.

Ready to get started on building your year-end fundraising plan? By incorporating some of these expert tips, you’ll be well on your way to your most successful one to date!

Need more ideas? Check out these 8 last minute tricks to boost your year-end fundraising.

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