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5 Easy Ways to Boost Year-End Donations

The clock is running out on year-end fundraising.

Whether you’re exceeding expectations or are barely meeting the bare minimum, you can do even better. I know what you’re thinking: “There’s so little time.” But I want to share five important adjustments you can make right now to shape your most compelling year-end fundraising campaign:

1) Expand your prospect pool program participants, volunteers, and advocates (Low-hanging fruit alert!).

Talk about potential. These individuals are already part of your organization’s family to some degree.  Now’s the time to focus on “converting” this group of prospects into donors.

  • For existing supporters and participants:
    • Incorporate a big thank you and a year-end ask into your email series to these folks.
    • If you have the ability to segment your lists, send messages aligned with individuals’ connections with your organization. For example, if they signed a petition to save the polar bears from the effects of global warming, provide an update on your organization’s progress on that front and related campaigns.
    • Feature tangible wins if you have them. Details like these make your impact real, memorable, and easy to repeat. Here’s a great example from EWG: “This year, EWG led the charge for GMO labeling and successfully kept the DARK Act from passing Congress – even though opponents spent more than $75 millionagainst us. “
  • New stakeholders (coming in this month, and ongoing):
    • When these folks register, volunteer, or sign a petition, thank them and ask them to donate so your organization can do more of what they
    • If possible, customize your ask to match their interaction with your organization. Their action tells you what they care about. Segment them by activity history and interests to respond with relevance!
    • Say it not once, but at least three times, in your welcome email series (e.g. auto responder)

2) Make your wins and goals as specific and memorable as possible.

The more specific you are when you talk about your organization’s goals and your donors’ role in achieving them, more immediate and real they become. That means you’re more likely to motivate donations and inspire people to spread the word.

Here are a couple of great examples:

  • EWG’s plans for next year are ambitious: We’ll be digging even more into the food additives and chemicals in your drinking water as well as taking on the dangerous practices of Big Food companies and the chemical industry head on.
  • Big Oil’s 2016 plans off the Atlantic coast mean torture to endangered right whales: Seismic blasts 100x louder than a jet engine. Every ten seconds. For WEEKS at a time. For endangered right whales with extremely sensitive hearing, each blast inflicts enormous pain, suffering and can even cause death. Stopping Big Oil’s offshore plans and saving the last 400 right whales will require everything we’ve got.

3) Amplify your call to action.

First of all, make sure your campaign features a clear and specific call to  action multiple times in each appeal (on every channel). You’d be amazed how many fundraising appeals fail to include three critical words: “Please give now.”

You can make the call to action more inspiring by making a direct connection between year-end gifts and advancing your mission (e.g. providing more scholarships, serving from individuals in a program etc.). Doing this will help move donors forward with you into 2017 goals and impact. On the other hand, referring to meeting a financial year-end goal has little meaning.  That means having asks like this:

  • Your contribution will bring the unique stories of 97 Orchard’s historic residents to over 220,000 visitors in 2016.  Together, we can reveal broader themes that illuminate the universal immigrant experience and the American dream. Renew your support and make a tax deductible gift to the Tenement Museum today.
  • Now it’s up to us to make sure that EWG has the resources to keep up its life-changing research and advocacy in 2016. Please, join me in supporting EWG now – your gift will be MATCHED, doubling your impact.
    (From celebrity fundraiser, Fran Drescher)

and not this:

  • Less than 24 hours until midnight, and just $17,904 to go! Help us hit our goal — join XXXXXXX with a $15 membership gift now.

4) Dial for dollars.

Now’s the time to ask your leadership and board members to call your top  20 to 50 donors who haven’t made a year-end or Q4 contributions yet.

Ask your team member with the closest relationship to each donor to make the call.

Make sure you guide your callers to start these conversations with a thank you. The more specific the thanks, the better. If possible, callers should share  highlights from 2016 that can be attributed to donors’  continued support. If not,  they should specify how previous gifts were used.
Next, callers should ask donors to give (if they haven’t already, this is vital information and you have to get it right). It’s far harder to say no over the phone.

Whether these calls generate a donation or not, they’ll strengthen your organization’s relationship with these solid-gold supporters.

5) Emphasize that donations = tax deductions.

The closer you get to December 31, the more value a 2016 tax deduction holds for your prospects. It suddenly seems like April 15 is around the corner!

The draw of a tax deduction is more potent than ever this year, as tax regulations are bound to change under the new Administration. There’s no inherent emotional appeal here,  but the bottom-line bonus is worth emphasizing in your year-end communications.

I hope you’ll consider integrating one, or all five, of these tactics in your year-end communications. I’m confident they’ll enhance this year’s results and next year’s growth for your nonprofit.

P.S. As you put these last-minute fixes into place, make sure you keep changes consistent across your year-end channels and target audiences. You don’t have to use the same language in every ask, but you should focus on the same stories or impacts.

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