What you need is information. It’s here, and it’s free: The Straight-Talk Guide to Year-End Fundraising. Download it now, free, and discover:
- What you’re missing if you don’t engage your donors at this critical time of year.
- Mid-level donors – why you shouldn’t overlook this special and generous class of supporters.
- The importance of Giving Tuesday for year-end fundraising.
- How to maximize donor response to your year-end appeal.
- The specific type of offer to present to your donors.
- What works and what doesn’t when it comes to the messaging for your appeal.
- Multichannel – how integrate direct mail, email, and social media.
- And much more.
Make this year-end appeal your best ever. FREE Download: The Straight-Talk Guide to Year-End Fundraising.
Like all appeals, your year-end appeal should start with a solid offer.
The fundraising offer is a statement of what the donor receives in return for giving. It’s the deal, the transaction, the quid pro quo. It’s how the donor and nonprofit connect.
The offer should convey:
- Why you’re writing to the donor.
- What you want your donor to do.
- Why the donation is a good deal.
- Why the donor should give now.
- What the donor gets out of it (benefits of giving).
- Why your donor’s support matters.
While many of your other appeals during the year will be more relational, the year-end appeal is usually more transactional. So in your year-end appeal, your offer could be something like this:
Give your tax-deductible gift now before December 31 to help us end the year strong, begin the New Year in a better position, and sustain vital programs that fight hunger and poverty for people in need.
For most donors, this simple offer is compelling. There’s the deadline, the benefits to the donor, the specific action to take, and the reasons to do it. This is proven direct response that works.
December is the biggest giving month. So, if you’re not doing a year-end appeal, you’re probably missing out. That’s because, according to nonprofit software firm Neon:
- 31% of all annual giving takes place in December.
- 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.
- 28% of nonprofits raise between 26% to 50% of their annual funds from their year-end ask.
These stats show that there’s a lot of donor activity going on in this time frame. But get this:
- Two-thirds of the people who give do no research beforehand.
That’s even more surprising. It tells you that donors are primed for giving at year end. The money is there, and it’s just looking for a place to go where it can do some good. That place can and should be your nonprofit. That’s why the single most important thing you can do at year end is simply to ask.
Is your multiplier offer working as well as it could be? What’s missing? Maybe something critical. Multiplier offers are pretty common in fundraising, and there’s a good reason for that.
Telling your donors that their gift will do two times, three times, or even ten times more good (or even more) is usually something they want to hear. And why not? Donors like getting a good deal.
But when those offers lack the essential element of credibility, you risk undercutting your own efforts. Because when you trumpet a multiplier like “Your gift multiplies 25 times!” without explaining how that might be possible, you’re making an unsubstantiated claim. See more here in my guest post on GuideStar blog.
Naturally, some donors might take your claim at face value, but it’s likely that many more will not. Why risk it? Here’s what to do so that your multiplier offer is as believable and as effective in raising funds as it could be. See more here.
It’s true – now’s the time to start thinking about year-end fundraising. The end of the year is a crucial time for nonprofits, because most of the gifts that nonprofits receive come in during December. We’ve all seen that stats about how important year end is.
So, sure, you want to do a year end appeal. That’s a given. But what do you say to donors to get them to respond?
Luckily, the messaging for this appeal is pretty simple and straightforward. Basically, you want to emphasize:
- The urgency of the December 31 deadline.
- Tax deductibility. Even though most donors don’t itemize, tax deductibility is still a potential donor benefit, and should be part of your year-end appeal. You can even say on the reply form: Any gift that is postmarked before midnight on December 31 could be fully deductible on your taxes.
- Sustain the nonprofit’s programs and services.
- Help the nonprofit end the year strong.
- Help the nonprofit begin the New Year in a better position to pursue its mission.
- Do one more act of compassion before the year comes to a close.
The year-end appeal is essentially these message points.
You can include a story about someone who was helped, accomplishments that the donor helped make possible, or other donor-focused elements if you’d like, but often this isn’t necessary.
In most cases, keeping the appeal simple and direct, focusing on the deadline, is the most effective copy platform.
Donor retention keeps falling, while donor skepticism keeps rising. So, it’s more important now than ever to connect with donors in a personal way if you expect to engage and keep them. But how?
There are two key “abilities” that are vital for effective fundraising. They’re credibility and likeability. It’s essential to convey both to donors if you expect them to join with you in your mission. See more in my article in Nonprofit Pro.
- Building credibility takes financial transparency, testimonials, and the like. But it’s more than that. There are specific things you can do to gain donors’ trust or win it back if you’ve lost it. See more here.
- Establishing likeability is a lot about tone and presentation, including a conversational copy voice. But again, it goes deeper than this. Likeability is more than the way an appeal is written. It’s a strategy that embraces donors on a personal level of shared values. More about that here.
It’s all but guaranteed that failing to convey credibility and likeability in appeals and content marketing will hurt your fundraising efforts – which will drain revenue. For some nonprofits, the result is some belt-tightening, but for others, it could be a question of survival.
You see deadlines all the time in fundraising appeals. But are they helping or hurting response? It depends. There are roughly three kinds of fundraising deadlines:
- Real deadlines, like year end, fiscal year end, Christmas, and others.
- Reasonable deadlines, like those for fund drives, matching grants, and things like National Doctors’ Day and Giving Tuesday.
- Arbitrary deadlines. These are just made up and slapped onto an appeal. They can be trouble.
See more about this in my guest post at Future Fundraising Now. Some deadlines will almost immediately set off donors’ BS alarms, possibly causing them to toss the appeal. There are better ways to heighten the urgency in fundraising. See more here.