Want More Money? Year-End Fundraising Tips for You

December 10, 2015

What are you doing to ramp up your fundraising during the last few weeks of 2015? Stay tuned for some of my best advice!

This tip from one of my readers instantly put a smile on my face. Last month, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection issued a shout-out for volunteers for their year-end mailing in their November enews. I’m a big fan of personalized touches, and hand-addressed envelopes are one of them. Plus, the Coalition made a party out of it, gathering a group of 17 volunteers together to hand-address and stuff over 700 envelopes in just two hours time (you can see the result here)!


What about your website — is it ready? Really? Here are a few simple tips:

Supercharge your home page. What do I mean by ‘supercharge?’ Well, it’s pretty safe to say that no one is visiting your website in these last few weeks of the year in order to learn about your programs. They’ve probably stopped by to make a gift. Your job is to make it easy for them. Consider the addition of a simple light-box or a pop-up to your site.  Love them or hate them, they work — and they work well! Here’s a lovely one from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 5.00.12 PMAnd another, this one from Oxfam:

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.46.44 AMA home page takeover from Best Friends:

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.50.59 AM

Pay close attention to your thank you page, too. Where do your donors land immediately after making a gift? Believe it or not, your “Thank You for Your Donation!” landing page is one of the single most important pages on your website. Your donors need to be reassured that they haven’t fallen into some dark Internet black hole – and your Thank You page provides the perfect opportunity to engage your donors even further. Take the time to celebrate your donors through your Thank You page, and they’ll be motivated and inspired beyond the donation they just made. It’s all about doing whatever you can to nurture those donor relationships. Bloomerang has 21 Ideas for Your Nonprofit’s Donation Confirmation Page.

Most of all, put yourself in their shoes. Think like a donor!

How easy are you making the online giving process for your donors? I implore you to put on your donor cap and engage yourself in their very experience to see what’s good and what needs to change. So something that you should be doing on a recurring basis — and especially before year-end — is to make a gift to your own organization. Note the number of steps it takes to complete. How did you FEEL about the experience? Frustrated donors ultimately become lapsed donors.

Put your board members to work! Which of your board members can write personal notes, make phone calls, or ask and/or thank in person to selected donors (major, loyal, and lapsed)? I can’t say it enough times: a passionate board equals a better chance for enthusiastic donors who want to give generously.

What else? I put out the call from some of my colleagues and here’s what they had to say:

Tom Ahern

I just write DM. I’m no tactician. But maybe, just maybe, this is a tip you can use:

Mail more than once. I recommend three times, same pack to the same list, minus anyone who’s already responded. If the letter’s any good at all, it will keep picking up response. BUT clean your list first. Don’t bother mailing to people who haven’t given for years (like three years). I know there’s a lot to be said for “re-acquisition of the lapsed” (foul terms). But that requires a special kind of appeal, not just any old thing.

Joe Garecht

Be persistent at the year-end! Sending out one e-mail and two tweets is NOT a strong year-end fundraising campaign. Your year-end fundraising campaign is just that… a campaign. That means it needs to be multi-channel and oft-repeated. Send out multiple e-mails. Do social media asks 3 times per day. Send out a snail mail letter. Call your best donors. Ask, ask, ask. At the year-end, you shall receive.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC
DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC

Develop and adopt a grant calendar that your entire grant team (formal or informal) has agreed to for the 12 months ahead and focus on your competitiveness for each opportunity by focusing on increasing your grant readiness score throughout the year.”

Lori Jacobwith

Here’s my year-end fundraising tip: Share regular & fun updates about how your fundraising campaign is doing. Don’t just send off the letter or some emails and expect people to take action. We all want to be “fed” and feel great, right? Feeding happens when I feel connected to your mission in some way and feel great about my engagement. So, share a quote or a story from a client. Share a fun photo about something you were able to do because of the contributions you’ve received so far. Or share a thank you note from someone different. But with all of this communication share an update about the financial gap you are closing. That way readers who have not yet give get inspired to make a gift. AND I’ve seen excellent updates that caused readers to make additional gifts when the language was fun, engaging and clear.

Sandy Rees

I have clients doing thank-you videos this year – shooting a 1-minute, personalized video with their smart phone, loading it onto YouTube with an unlisted link, then emailing the link to donors. We’re getting some great feedback so far, and I expect it will pave the way for increased donations.

What’s your best year-end fundraising tip? I’d love to hear from you.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shari December 11, 2015 at 6:48 am

The video idea is terrific! I plan to try it out. How do I post a YouTube video that has an unlisted link? I’ve tried but when I make the video “private” then I can’t seem to find a link. Would love to figure out how to do this (have tried). Thanks for the great article!

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