Ten Tips On How This Year-end Giving Will Be Different

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Your year-end drive from October through January is the most lucrative period for fundraising.

Get prepared now.

Please listen to our latest webinar, Reimagining Year-end Fundraising in 2020 Giving, which addresses these issues in depth.

Here are ten tips that define what’s different about this year.

  1. Elections: During a Presidential Election Highlight Your Values. To cut through the noise and stay relevant, highlight your values and compare or contrast with issues in the news. Be utterly clear about your organizational values. Stand up for them. Values must be informed by data, research, and science, not just what you think or believe. Should Your Fundraising Be Apolitical? It depends. I explain here.

  2. Unemployed Donors: With a staggering 30 million US citizens unemployed, the most in our history, you must have a compassionate, proactive message for your unemployed donors. Your job is to keep them engaged and updated.

  3. Covid-19: Update donors on how Covid-19 has affected your nonprofit. If you work on the front lines, issue a special impact report; if you’re not on the front lines, state how Covid-19 has affected your work, and drive home the urgency of your mission.

  4. Photography: Make sure your images reflect the times. Are people wearing masks? Are they socially distant?

  5. Flexibility in Donor Communication: Be extra flexible with donors. Ask them their preferred method of communicating: phone vs. Zoom, email vs. mail, ask if texting is okay. Lead with empathy about how your donors may be impacted by Covid-19, unemployment, racial unification progress, and/or the upcoming elections.

  6. Racial Justice: Address racial justice where it resonates with your programs or partnerships. Further, funding disparities are faced by nonprofit leaders of color and that must be redressed. This is no time for your nonprofit to hide or be quiet. We must stand with people of color in clear and demonstrable ways. Define what that means for your agency.

  7. Texting: Text messages boast an open rate of 98%, but not all donors give after opening the message. You probably want to restrict the use of texting to cultivation messages, expressions of gratitude, and/or breaking news. Send texts related to special days, e.g., a message of appreciation on the day before Thanksgiving. If you’re asking for a gift be sure to include link to your website’s donate page so that you can secure the donor’s contact information and offer varied giving options. Learn more about texting here.

  8. Promote Different Methods of Giving (planned/sustaining/matching gifts): Donors who have committed a Planned Gift may not be donors to your Annual Fund. Part of your stewardship with them this year is to ‘cross-sell’ them on the importance of making an annual donation. Your best prospects for a Planned Gift are found among your donors who have given regularly, year after year; who began giving many years ago; or who elected to periodically increase the amount of their gift.

    With donors giving $2,500 and below, but who are not signed on to your monthly giving program, inviting them to join as monthly donors would be a smart move. Donors who have supported your mission and who may be impressed with the work you’ve done during the pandemic, may still be uneasy about their finances. A monthly  gift may be the best way to meet their objectives, and to help you. With the right stewardship, you may-well inspire them to double or triple that monthly amount.

    With donors of significance, a multi-year pledge should be considered.

    Research shows that offering a challenge match inspires a donor to give, or give more, about half the time.

  9. Crisis Donors: New “crisis” donors are emerging. Do you know who they are? Prospect research customized to your locality will help you identify them. Donors are looking for ways to help and do something positive. Identifying who they are now will boost your year-end giving.

  10. Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1: Giving Tuesday can be an effective way to raise money if you have a robust online program, joined with a thoughtful plan. We have clients that have raised $500,000 last year! For 2020, consider funding a specific need that’s COVID/Crisis related. See my blog post #GivingTuesday: You Have a Decision to Make.

Finally, remember that a robust fundraising program can defy the downward giving trends. When you employ smart strategies and tactics you will raise more money in times of crisis.

For an in-depth treatment of these issues please listen to our latest webinar, Reimagining Year-end Fundraising in 2020, and let us know your thoughts and proposed year-end plans on our blog.

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