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Considerations for Your Nonprofit’s Fall Appeal: Looking Ahead to Year-End Fundraising Efforts

As the temperature drops and fall begins to creep in, so do thoughts of year-end fundraising. What are your nonprofit’s goals for this time of year? Hopefully, you’ve been reviewing your metrics throughout the year, making any necessary adjustments, and you’re ready to wrap up the year successfully! As you craft your strategy, there are several things we recommend considering to ensure you have a successful year-end.

Participate in Key Fall Events

The fall is an excellent time to craft communications around seasonal events. First, mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday, which always falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  If you have the resources, we encourage you to make Giving Tuesday a more complex fundraising event. You can use our Giving Tuesday Toolkit & Planning Guide to get started. However, even simple outreach efforts like an email blast can reap the rewards for your organization. Giving Tuesday is marketed as a “day of generosity” by its creators, and donors are prepared to give to organizations with a compelling mission. Utilize your donor database to easily craft a personalized message to each segment of your donor base, emphasizing the importance of their generosity to your mission. Don’t let Giving Tuesday pass you by.

Thanksgiving is another opportunity to enhance your fall fundraising efforts. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, initiate stewardship efforts that communicate how thankful you are for donor support. Although this effort is focused on the “thank you” and not another gift appeal, a sincere “thank you” will set you up for a successful year-end appeal. This “thank you” could be an email, a postcard, a formal card, or even a phone call. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal phone calldonors love them! Even if you have to leave a voicemail, the effort will reflect positively on your organization. 

Communicate Early and Often Regarding Your Year-End Appeal

Now that you have planned an initial appeal for Giving Tuesday and donor appreciation around Thanksgiving, it’s time to turn your attention to the final appeal who it will go to and how they will receive it. Year-end appeals can be tricky because they coincide with a season of spending (and giving!). People are keenly aware of their spending habits and limits at the end of the year, and an unplanned expense may not be possible. This is why planning frequent engagement with your donors is importantthe more often they hear from you the more likely they are to plan a gift to your organization into their year-end budget. Are there folks in your donor database  who haven’t yet answered an appeal? Consider reviewing the SYBUNT/LYBUNT categories for those folks who have historically given to your nonprofit at year-end, and craft a specific appeal to them. This could read something like, “Around this time last year, you were so generous to have made a $X donation to us…would you consider a gift of $Y before year-end?”

Consider a Second Appeal for Repeat Donors

Consider if it’s the right time to make a second appeal to those who have already contributed to your year-end campaign. You likely have information in your donor database to determine if there are donors who would be willing to give again with an effective appeal. You might have donors who are encouraged by the year-end tax deadline. Use your database and sector research to understand if the year-end tax deadline is compelling to your donors or if the urgency of your mission might be a more effective call to action. With some early planning, your year-end appeals can be tailored to specific audiences so that your message is as impactful as possible. Recognizing donors with messages of gratitude during this last quarter can help set you up for a positive response to your final appeal. Use your donor database to understand who gives at this busy time of year and communicate with them accordingly. Your donors’ appreciation will be apparent in their year-end gift to your nonprofit.

Published: September 14, 2022

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