The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Year-End Countdown, Week 3: December Fundraising Dos and Don’ts

As December 31st approaches, let’s review some fundraising basics.  There are a lot of details that go into your year-end fundraising campaign but this week, I encourage you to take a step back and make sure you are doing, or not doing, these 8 basic things:

Don’t Make it Hard for Donors to Get to Your Donation Page
When you ask a supporter for a donation, direct them exactly to your donation page. Don’t make them hunt for it. In a store setting, customers never have to climb a flight of stairs to checkout. It’s right there by the front door with lights illuminating all the cashiers’ stations. Think about this when you write an appeal or ask for a donation on social media. Put your donation page link in an obvious place and add a button that says DONATE NOW in all your email appeals.

Do Make Your Online Donation Page Super Simple
Too many fields can discourage the donor from completing the gift, so keep the donation form as short as possible. Remove all the hurdles the donor might encounter to complete that donation, like requiring a login or requesting the donor use a specific browser or payment method. And make sure your donation page is mobile responsive. Let donors choose how and where they make their online donation and ensure each option is accessible and simple.

Do Stick to the Theme
Your year-end campaign should focus on a story, a message, or a theme about how donors can impact your nonprofit’s work. Include those same visual cues and your campaign’s message on your donation page so that donors know that they’ve landed in the right place.

Don’t Leave the Gift Amount Box Blank
Donors need guidance on what’s expected—give them a starting point for making a decision about their gift. Create suggested donation amounts and tie each to a tangible impact if possible. Giving levels can help your donor visualize what their gift will do.

Do Segment You Donor List
When sending your appeal, create more than one version and make sure the message makes sense to each group of donors who will receive the email. For example, if you had an event recently, you might want to send an email to those who attended or donated to the event with a note about how successful the event was before leading into your ask. Or, if you have volunteers or non-donors on your email list, you shouldn’t begin your appeal with “Thank you so much for your continuing support of our organization. Your donations have made a real difference in the lives of our clients…” the same thing goes for lapsed donors. Don’t confuse your audience by sending a one-size-fits-all donor appeal.

Don’t Forget to Share Your Fundraising Goal
Add a thermometer on your donation page to drive urgency and create social proof. Network for Good recommends that our clients turn on their giving thermometer after they have received a few gifts because psychologically, donors don’t want to be “the first”. After those first few gifts are made, that thermometer provides social proof that your donors are coming together with others to help your organization achieve a common goal. We’ve also seen the donation page thermometer spark major donors to offer a matching gift or give that last big gift to make sure the nonprofit surpasses the goal before deadline. When you let your donors know that fundraising goal, and how close you are to getting to it, it helps build urgency and provides a sense of responsibility and then accomplishment when your goal is met.

Do Make the Donor the Hero
In your appeal, clearly outline the donor’s impact. Instead of, “Our nonprofit makes sure children get the books they need” you should instead say “You can give a child the books they need to learn.” Avoid “Our nonprofit takes care of homeless veterans” but do say “You will provide a safe haven for homeless veterans.” Make your donor, or someone like them, part of the story. Causes often forget to involve the reader by not writing for them. If you zero in on the “our nonprofit is awesome” message, donors won’t be compelled to give. If your organization is so awesome, then it appears as though you don’t really need your donors’ support.

Don’t Focus on the Finances
This can be hard because many nonprofits want to make sure they fill the gap in their budget shortfall before the next year, but remember: your budget shortfall is not your donor’s problem to solve. They want to help solve the problem that your mission addresses. They want to help end homelessness, or make sure animals have a forever home.  Drive that point home to your donors because your mission is what matters the most to them.

For more tips on how to make your year-end appeals shine, download the Procrastinator’s Guide to Year-End Appeals.

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About This Blog

Liz Ragland
Senior Associate, Marketing and Content

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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