The end-of-year giving season is the mad dash to the finish line. Maybe you feel out of steam after Giving Tuesday, or perhaps you need to top your awesome campaign from last year. Regardless, we’re here to give you an extra creative boost with 13 actionable end of year giving ideas that you can apply to all parts of your digital strategy. A baker’s dozen of fundraising ideas to take you into the new year with a little extra cheer.
1. Set and share a public end-of-year goal — then beat it
We’re guessing you already have an internal goal for this year’s push to December 31, but do you have an external one? We recommend setting 2 goals: One that is ambitious to push your team to go above and beyond, and one that is more attainable to keep your supporters motivate. Add your public-facing goal to your donation page, email marketing, and social messaging. Bonus points for adding a donation tracker bar so we can all follow along. Then, beat your public goal (and your internal one too, of course). To cap it off, be sure you’re accurately tracking your goals for reporting.
2. Turn that end-of-year donation into a recurring donation
Rather than asking for one large gift, consider asking for smaller monthly donations. Frame the ask as the gift that keeps on giving, or as a New Year’s resolution to drive impact every month. Recurring donations can be more beneficial for nonprofits, driving more revenue year-over-year than one-time gifts. They also allow for a more predictable cash-flow throughout the year, and are more inviting to potential donors and young people that want to contribute, but may not be able to give large lump sums.
3. Run seasonal pop-ups
Consider running redirect pop-ups asking for donations, or adding a sticky bar to key landing pages driving to your donation page. Use Google Analytics to look at the last year’s data: What pages drove the most clicks to your donation page? What pages get high-traffic but did not drive as many clicks? Place the popups or the sticky bar on these pages and watch the clicks roll in. They may not be the top drivers of donations, but they can offer an assisted conversion and make your ask more cohesive across platforms.
4. Segment your email list
If your coworkers and your friend circles were both doing Secret Santa, you wouldn’t expect your best pal to give you the same gift as your colleague on the marketing team. The same goes for how you make asks of your donors. When sending email asks, segment your list. You could send different asks to different audiences based on past donation behavior: repeat donors, lapsed donors, tribute donors, etc. Or you could send based on past donation amount. If you send based on past donation amount, ask for just a bit more than that group gave the year prior (say, 5-10%). This way, you can generate more revenue, without it feeling like too high an ask of your supporters.
5. Ask for shares
Just like you wouldn’t ask all of your friends for the same favor (not everyone you know is going to help you move), you don’t ask for gifts every day. Relying solely on donation asks, and sending a lot of them in a short timeframe, can cause supporter fatigue and lead to decreased open rates, increased unsubscribe rates, and fewer donations. To balance out the asks, and to avoid seeming greedy (especially if asking people who have already donated to donate again), consider asking them to share your organization on social media. You can add this to your donation thank-you email, or you can send a separate email to a recent donor segment. They can share a pre-written status about their donation or a favorite program or article on your site. This can leverage social proof towards helping more people find your organization and donate as well. And speaking of social proof…
6. Activate your ambassadors
While you are asking for shares, be sure to activate your ambassadors. This includes any influencers you’ve worked with, board members, top followers who consistently share your content on social, and employees. Encourage social media fans to create peer-to-peer fundraisers, and write up sample posts to make it super easy for them to share.
7. Automate as much as possible
You have so much going on at the end of the year. Save yourself time and schedule emails and social posts earlier on. This will help you enjoy some time off while the fundraising campaign continues.
8. Create an impact-driven end-of-year narrative
Consider creating an ongoing narrative across platforms, tying in major themes. Who doesn’t love a good story? Plus, by releasing different parts of the story bit-by-bit, you will have potential donors on the edge of their seats. When they know or want to look for your posts and emails, you’ll be more likely to stand out in the sea of content as you bring them to a moment of feeling inspired by your work and impact, and much more likely to kick in to keep the good feelings going.
9. Make it topical — and inclusive
Everyone is thinking about the holidays. Make your asks topical and festive, tying into what is top-of-mind at the end of the year. We also recommend keeping it inclusive of faiths and celebrations to avoid alienating any potential supporters.
10. A/B test value propositions
One of our mottos is “always be testing.” Test all components of your end of year giving campaign, from your donation page to your email messaging. Use different value propositions, track what drives the most donations, and then stick with the message that resonates most with your audience.
11. Play up a matching gift
If possible, run a matching campaign with a generous donor or board member — you can even take a gift you know will be coming in and position it as a “match.” Studies show that 84% of donors say they are more likely to donate if a match is offered, and 33% of donors indicate they would be willing to give more if their donation is matched. Nonprofits receive more donations, and donors feel like they are making a greater impact. It’s a win-win!
12. Test increased messaging, with increased urgency
Last year M+R reported that for every 1,000 fundraising messages sent, nonprofits raised $42. That’s a lot of messages. While there is the risk of subscriber fatigue (see #5) when sending more emails, consider scaling up your email sends at the end of the year.
In our podcast with Environmental Defense Fund, we learned that they tested an increasing volume of fundraising emails until they landed on sending 8 at the end of the year. Try running a similar test to see if you can get more donations with more emails this year, it could help you to reach more subscribers despite their inboxes filling up at the end of the month. Be sure to track open and unsubscribe rates — if open rate begins to significantly drop, or if unsubscribes increase, it’s a sign to scale back.
13. Don’t sleep on the last 3 days of the year
To clarify, you should definitely get a good night’s rest after all this work. But don’t forget to schedule and send donation asks on the last 3 days of the year. About 12% of all giving happens in the last 3 days of the year. Appeal to those last-minute donors by reminding them their donation is tax-deductible. Make sure to schedule plenty of emails and social posts to go out on these days, and don’t forget the countdown clock!
Now that you’ve got 13 ideas (that’s one up on the 12 days of Christmas!), it’s time to get started. Have more ideas you’d like to share? Share them with us and tweet @WholeWhale.