It’s October, three more months to go before the end of the year. That may seem a long way away, but you know as well as I do that this time of year flies by. Now is the time to start planning your organization’s Year-End strategy. As you know, nearly 30% of ALL charitable giving occurs during the last month of the year, and most of that within the last few days of December.
Many non-profits ask us, “When is the best time to send our Year-End fundraising appeals?” There really is no cut-and-dried timetable, but the answer du jour is “earlier and earlier.”
Just the other day a co-worker here at Rescigno’s brought in a holiday fundraising appeal complete with Santa and snowflakes on the outer envelope. Ironically, it was 85 degrees here in Chicago that day.
Here’s our suggestion:
Look at your organization-wide mailing schedule for the last 2-3 months of the year and determine the best timing for your Year-End appeal and follow-up. Then think about the fundraising goals you want to accomplish with your Year-End appeal and how you will achieve them. Maybe it’s more important to increase the average gift or upgrade a specific number of donors. Maybe it’s both.
When you know your goals you can put tactics in place to help you reach them (such as a matching gift or a premium—end of year is one of the few times we would ever recommend trinkets, for example). Like many other organizations, your main goal is probably to get as much revenue in the door before the end of the year as possible. If that’s the case, focusing on getting as many new donors/one-time gifts as possible is a good idea. But if it’s recruiting new members, then a recruiting promotion on your website could prove valuable. This will help with long-term income more than Year-End results.
Don’t let your Year-End mailing get out the door without careful consideration for a coordinated online fundraising strategy. Your fundraising emails should mirror the message in your direct mail piece to create a cohesive campaign. For online donors who were also sent a direct mail piece, it’s a good idea to add a message at the top of the email with a note saying, “We wanted to follow up with you” or “Did you get our appeal in the mail?”
On the days leading up to the end of the year and on New Year’s Eve, try to redirect all of your homepage traffic to your donation page so that any visitor to the website automatically lands on your donation page. If you’re serious about raising as much as possible during the last days of the calendar year, it’s worth trying.
Finally, many of you are asking us about #GivingTuesday, and whether or not it’s worth doing as part of a Year-End strategy. While still a young program, the money raised on #GT has been increasing. #GT won’t raise as much as direct mail or emails, but it’s part of an overall strategy NOT to leave any stone unturned. What it requires is a strong and large group of volunteers dedicated to spreading the word about your cause on that day.
Do you have a particularly successful Year-End fundraising strategy that you’d be willing to share with our readers?