Digital fundraising is on the rise. According to the Blackbaud Institute’s 2020 Charitable Giving Report, online giving grew by 20.7% compared to the previous year, a trend that was accelerated due to the pandemic. Online giving is steadily emerging to be the first response channel of choice for donors.
Digital technology has allowed nonprofits and charities to have a variety of tools in their arsenals when it comes to running winning campaigns for their year-end fundraising. But these fundraising efforts can get overwhelming because of all the things that need to be done.
Making the most of the giving season (November and December) is crucial for nonprofits and charities to deliver a financially robust year. It is a time where there is a higher chance of raising the maximum number of funds because people are in the spirit of giving and many intend to make the most of their tax-deductible gifts before the new year.
In this article, we will share seven time-tested strategies that you can use to make the most of the year-end giving season through online charitable fundraising.
How to plan winning campaigns for year-end fundraisers
1. Start early and set SMART goals
Setting goals is the surest way to reach them. We encourage you to start early and set SMART goals. For year-end campaigns, it’s recommended to complete planning by September and execute from October onwards.
What are SMART goals?
- Specific: It is important to have very specific goals set as you kick off your fundraising campaign. These goals could be related to the funds raised, donors reached, new donors acquired, etc.
- Measurable: Ensure that your goal can be measured. Track your daily, weekly, and monthly progress against the set benchmarks.
- Attainable: Your goal should be ambitious and realistic for your nonprofit to really grow and outshine its previous performance. It is a good idea to use past data as you set targets for the current year.
- Relevant: Make sure your goal is aligned with your charity’s mission and vision.
- Time-bound: The secret to achieving your goals successfully is to give yourself deadlines. For end-of-the-year fundraisers, it is usually the first week of January.
Take a step further and have a team meeting to list down your campaign objectives. Doing it as a team will increase the likelihood of members persevering to make things happen. Above all, smart objectives mean you can track performance more easily and have the right metrics in place to tweak your existing and future campaigns to do better.
2. Consider new sources of revenue
Diversifying your revenue stream is an intelligent strategy that every nonprofit and charity needs to employ to secure its income. Taking this route will ensure that you avoid any financial crises that result from relying on just a handful of donors.
Incorporating online charitable gaming fundraisers like 50/50, Catch the Ace, and Sweepstakes is a brilliant way to add new revenue sources to your income.
- 50/50 Online Raffle: As the name suggests, in this raffle the prize is split 50/50 between the winner and the charity. The prize pot is funded through raffle ticket sales and the winner is chosen via a draw. Organizations that witness rapid growth and success using 50/50 online raffles are those that typically repeat the event every month as it helps build momentum and attracts interest with the growing pot.
- Sweepstakes: Sweepstakes have a massive reach and are perfect for organizations looking to go big with their fundraising efforts. These are the most common form of online contests/raffles. By participating, donors stand a chance to win a range of prizes (may include cash, house, car, etc.). This works as a good option for nonprofits that are on a budget as the prize can be decided beforehand.
- Catch the Ace: Catch the Ace is a weekly multiple-draw lottery that usually runs up to 52 weeks or until the Ace is found. The winner selected in each weekly draw wins part of the proceeds from ticket sales and also gets a chance to pick another card from the 52-card deck to find the Ace. If the Ace is discovered, the winner also takes the jackpot home. If the Ace is not found, the progressive prize portion from ticket sales is rolled over to the next draw.
Winnings from all three of these online fundraisers are usually life-changing amounts. This offers a great opportunity for participants to win big while also making a difference.
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3. Have a multi-channel engagement approach
Engagement helps build a lasting and memorable impact in the minds of existing and potential donors. Today, consumers are plugged into multiple internet-powered devices and the only way to capture their attention and retain it is by utilizing a multi-channel approach. It is important to be where your donors are, both online and offline.
Authenticity, inspiration, and connection
Taking an authentic storytelling approach is by far one of the most effective strategies that you can employ. Clearly present the problem that your charity is trying to solve, and then show the impact a donor makes when they donate to your cause. In the digital world, it is easy to lose touch and throw complex information at potential donors. But the human element will always yield the best results. Share success stories and engage with the audience at all touchpoints including your website, social media, email marketing, and your offline efforts.
Optimize your digital efforts
Use audience segmentation to personalize your outreach. Donor demographics allow you to glean better insights about your donor base and create much more effective messaging. This approach will help your charity come across as one that cares and will eventually increase your donor base over time.
When you take a segmented approach to email marketing, you can personalize elements such as salutation, ask amount, and the closing. Using paid efforts on social media, you can set up a campaign funnel to turn supporters into donors.
4. Segment donor database and conduct A/B tests
Donor segmentation entails intentionally separating your donor base into smaller groups based on similar characteristics. This methodology helps organizations learn meaningful insights about their donors and allows charities to craft messaging that each segment cares about. Segments can be based on income levels, age groups, areas of residence, size of the gifts, and several other categories.
A good way to see if you are creating an effective donor segment is to run A/B tests. They allow you to know which campaigns and strategies are having the maximum impact and traction with your audience. A/B tests should be conducted with the aim of increasing web traffic, the number of donations, and the size of the average gift. All of these impact your bottom line. Here’s a detailed guide on how to run A/B tests effectively and successfully.
5. Get your team together
With the right team, your end-of-the-year fundraising efforts can yield maximum results. You can either decide to opt for software that automates some of your fundraising processes or you can partner with a full-lifecycle company like Ascend to manage your entire program from A to Z.
With a full-service partner, you can be as involved as you like. This includes license support, program design, managing campaign analytics, and having assistance every step of the way—from inception to execution. This allows you to run multiple winning campaigns simultaneously.
6. Ensure analytics are all set up
Analytics is the process of collecting specific, accurate, and useful data which can help discern patterns and trends over time. In the nonprofit space, insights from analytics helps you determine the best course forward for future fundraising campaigns.
End-of-the-year fundraising efforts involve a lot of moving parts and require months of planning and careful execution. But the right analytics software can streamline the entire process for you, let you analyze past data, and ensure you are constantly on top of metrics that matter. Integrated features can help you plan direct mail appeals, email marketing, follow-up or reminder emails, data entry, and the fundraiser itself.
7. Plan for donor retention
The year-end fundraising season provides a massive opportunity to charities and nonprofits. But the variety of mediums that need to be utilized to have a strong presence both online and offline, and the sheer amount of work that needs to be done can sometimes stretch resources thin and put our focus on powering through these weeks and months. In most cases, little thought is given to what’s going to come next.
However, it’s important to remember that the donor retention procedures that we put into place now will allow us to continue confidently during the following year. Online charitable raffles are great to attract repeat donors because of the momentum they garner.
Additionally, demonstrating gratitude and showing donors the impact their donations made, or taking the time out to consult (for feedback) with key donors from existing or previous campaigns can make a huge difference.
By following these strategies, you can give your year-end fundraising campaign a strong start and maximize your results. Happy fundraising!