With Giving Tuesday behind us, fundraisers are now focused on wrapping up 2019 strong. If you want to get the most out of your year-end campaign, follow these simple steps.
Many associations rallied to raise funds on Giving Tuesday, but a bigger season for giving is underway. Donors are more likely to contribute big as the end of the year approaches, said experts during two recent Network for Good webinars.
“Giving Tuesday is the start, but December is the moneymaker,” said Rachel Muir, a fundraising expert and founder of Girlstart.
Brady Josephson, managing director at NextAfter, agreed. “There is a very clear pattern in the data; we call it the year-end revenue curve,” said Josephson, who spoke during “How Fundraising Can Cut Through the Clutter at Year-End” [registration]. “The vast majority—about 85 percent—of calendar year-end revenue comes in in December.”
Muir and Josephson said following a few simple tips when communicating with potential donors can significantly boost the amount you raise in year-end giving campaigns.
Send More Emails
During “Giving Tuesday is Over, Now What?” [registration], Muir said it’s not too late to make changes that improve year-end fundraising. “I am going to share with you what you can do to make the end of your year epic,” she said. “These are things you can do right now.”
One of those things is to send more emails to potential donors. Josephson, whose organization researches effective online fundraising strategies, said the average donor received at least seven emails, and more than 40 percent of nonprofits send 10 year-end emails. “If you send just two or three, it’s going to be really hard [to have an impact],” Josephson said. “You’re probably going to get drowned out.”
Muir agreed, saying that donors don’t open all your emails, so it’s important to send more. “If to date, you typically send three email appeals at the end of year, try sending five,” she said. “Don’t go from three to 30.”
She also contends you can’t send too many emails, if they are done right. “The donor experience is all that matters,” Muir said. “The bottom line is, if you are delivering impeccable donor experiences, your donors are ready to hear from you.”
Send Smarter Emails
So, what creates an impeccable experience? Muir and Jacobson say stewardship plays a key role.
“Stewardship is thanking your donors and acknowledging your donors,” Muir said. “It is what determines if they are going to continue to give to you.”
Stewardship includes showing donors how their money made a difference. Josephson recommends sending a “testimonial pass along” email. “It’s really a way to report back on the impact [you’re having] using someone else’s words,” he said. “It could be a donor; it could be a beneficiary. It’s someone else’s voice saying, ‘This organization is doing such great work. I’m so glad that I could play a role in this, and you should too.’”
Email messages should also be authentic. “I want you to be genuine, to be thoughtful, to give credit for what their gifts are accomplishing,” Muir said. “What motivates donors is knowing their gift will make a difference. You don’t need the credit. They need the credit. You need the money.”
In addition, Muir recommends email segmentation to help achieve personalization. “Segmenting is when you communicate with people based on an action they’ve taken,” she said. “Here’s an example of not segmenting: ‘If you’ve already donated, thank you for your kindness. If not ….’ All this says is, ‘I don’t know who you are or what action you’ve taken, but I want you to give.’”
If a person gives, they should not be asked to donate to that same campaign again. “They should only be receiving stewardship emails that thank them for their gift or explain how their gift is being used,” Muir said.
Optimize Subject Lines and Landing Pages
Finally, the two recommend improving email subject lines and donation landing pages. Muir said subject lines should “pique their curiosity and create a sense of urgency. I love using SubjectLine.com, which is completely free, to test my lines.”
Landing pages—the web page people arrive on to donate money— should include trust badges to indicate the site is secure for financial transactions, as well as the most popular donation amount.
“They just highlighted $50 with a star and said, ‘It’s the most popular donation,’” Josephson said of a nonprofit that used this technique on its donation page. “By adding that one little treatment …, they saw almost an 8 percent increase in conversions, a nearly 15 percent increase in average gift, and a 23.8 percent increase in revenue.”
What are you doing to boost your donations as the end of 2019 approaches? Share your plans in the comments.