Eight Easy Ways to Finish Year-End Fundraising With a Bang

Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising, Membership, #GivingTuesday, Year End Giving

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By about mid-October, you should get your year-end giving efforts underway. American donors love giving at the end of the calendar year. Trust the data: 30% of all giving in 2015 occurred in December and of that 11% in the last three days!

Make the most of your year-end opportunities and close the year with champagne, fireworks, and a healthy revenue bump by following these eight steps to success:

1. Make a plan and share it.

Whether you use the latest project management software or the cat calendar tacked above your desk, your campaign success depends on making an integrated communications plan. Decide which elements you want to use, then map out the start date and frequency of those efforts. 

In addition to produced on-air spots, direct mail, and e-appeals, consider adding some of these pieces to your communications mix:

    • Goal trackers
    • Lightbox
    • Live on-air appeals
    • Challenges/matches
    • Special giveaways
    • Homepage takeover
    • Digital ads
    • Street marketing

Share your year-end plan broadly, so that everyone at your station, from traffic to programming to the front desk, feels like he or she is working towards a shared goal.

2. #GivingTuesday

Do I need to “do” #GivingTuesday? Short answer: Yes.

Detailed answer: Still yes. Healthy skepticism aside, the numbers don’t lie. #GivingTuesday had a growth rate of 148% from 2013 to 2014, and in 2015 over $116 million was given to charities around the globe.

#GivingTuesday has become an important opportunity for nonprofits, and more participate each year. Help your station stand out with a unique, compelling message about why your listeners should give to you. Be creative yet specific; donors respond better to concrete goals (like funding a new piece of equipment or launching a podcast). 

3. Testing, testing, testing.

The volume of gifts you receive at year-end can yield lots of significant statistics, so seize your opportunity to try out a new tactic, such as trying out digital ads in December (either for lead generation or new donor conversion) or A/B testing text in lightboxes (traditional vs. casual) to see which your donors respond to more. Not all tests end up being revenue positive, but the data you collect will make your subsequent campaigns more successful.  

4. Improve your online giving experience.

After your fall campaign ends, you should have a good handle on what is working (and not) with your online giving program. (If not use this Online Revenue Detector quiz.) Evaluate your online giving results against nonprofit benchmarks to see how your organization is doing, against your prior year results and against other groups, too. Once you’ve identified areas for improvement on your donation site, prioritize changes that will benefit donors and give them a clean, secure, easy way to support your great station.

5. KISS!

Keep it simple... Your listeners and donors feel busier than ever around the holidays; now is not the time for complicated messages. Refine your year-end message down to its core essence: What you and your donors can do together.

6. Shore up staffing.

Track everyone’s vacation plans and make sure you’ll have adequate staffing through December, especially to accept gifts in the last three days of the year. Even if December 31 falls on a weekend, it’s still a good idea to have skeleton staff available to monitor online giving, emails, and possibly phone calls.

Don’t leave money on the table! I once got a $50,000 gift over the phone on New Year’s Eve because a donor needed to make the gift before the midnight and our organization had staff ready to answer last-minute calls.

7. Go all out in the last few days.

Eleven percent of all online giving in 2015 happened in the last three days of the year. According to the Network for Good Digital Giving Index, the average gift made on December 31, 2015 was $223 compared with $110 in the rest of the year. Go big in the final push! Make sure your emails, social media posts, and website are all in sync, and your on-air messaging reinforces the urgent call to action. 

8. Have a plan to thank.

January is a great time to thank you donors for the partnership they have in your station. Plan your January stewardship activities when you’re mapping out year-end communications. Show donors how much they inspire you with a little extra creativity: Run some special on-air spots, make short thank-you videos and post on YouTube, send out postcards, organize a phone bank thank-a-thon, or make a flickr album showing the highlights of the year.


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