And just like that we’re on the doorstep of the most important time of year; Giving Season. I know, I can’t believe summer is already coming to a close, and because of that everyones focus should now be shifting towards maximizing your fundraising opportunities to close out 2018 on a high note.
End of year can cause anxiety for many fundraisers (myself included), so I’d like to talk through some strategies that I’ve seen proven to increase engagement and giving. While 2018 has been off to a slow start for some to date, we’ve still got time to renew, upgrade and convert, because this is the time of year when most people think about giving to the causes they care about.
This is a strategy that I’ve seen result in increased retention and gift size, while anecdotally hearing much appreciation from donors. In late September identify all of your donors who have given during the previous two year-end periods. Once selected, begin a cultivation campaign throughout year-end (alongside your appeals) to engage and thank them for their past support. Ideally you can select some giving level for calls and personal emails, and for those lower level donors a 2-3 email campaign should benefit too.
This type of engagement really sticks out amongst the increased year-end solicitations that your constituents are receiving and in my experience, it’s not lost on them based on their actions.
We all know it costs more to acquire donors than it does to renew, and we’ll get to renewing, but let’s first look to acquiring new donors. I’m not talking about purchasing a list but looking at all of the non-donors currently on your file and converting as many as possible.
Soliciting supporters who give to you in ways other than through financial gifts can be tricky and you don’t want to offend anyone who views their time as equal to a financial gift, but it is important to help you reach your goals and there are some within this group that are ready and willing to make a gift.
To understand who you should directly solicit it’s pretty straightforward; who has capacity, is giving elsewhere and has recently engaged with you. Understand that and align it with an open match or a campaign like Giving Tuesday and you should be able to entice non-donors to become active donors. For those not ready to receive a direct ask, you should still create a softer ask version of one or two of your year-end appeals.
Two important groups for me at the end of the year are your sustainers and those who have the potential to upgrade. Sustainers are often your strongest supporters and should be excluded from many appeals throughout the year. That exclusion shouldn’t apply to year-end. If appropriately asked for an additional gift, it’s likely many of your sustainers will make another larger gift, outside of their ongoing monthly support. I have seen a number of $25 a month sustainers make additional $500 gifts at the end of the year when asked, so don’t rule that out.
At any given moment you have a group of donors ready to upgrade on your file. The key is being able to identify who those people are and making an upgrade ask so you don’t lose that opportunity. A screening of capacity and affinity would certainly help you to find those people, but can often be costly and time consuming. For those who don’t have the resources to do so use RFM and understand the velocity of their giving as well as any interaction recorded on your CRM. And remember regardless of someone’s wealth and size of giving elsewhere, the upgrade ask array should be minimal as big jumps in ask amounts have repeatedly shown to not work. For those folks you do identify with upgrade potential and major gift capacity you may also want to perform research and have a major gift officer qualify them to be added to a portfolio.
These are only a few yearend strategies that I have used and seen to be effective, and ultimately to be most effective at this time of year it comes down to knowing your constituents and crafting messaging that will most likely appeal to them and lead to a gift to further your mission. Good luck making the best out of the most important fundraising time of year!
At Causemo, our Insights platform allows users to quickly understand who their constituents are, what they care about and the channels they prefer to give through, to efficiently and effectively raise more money for their cause
Ryan Carpenter is the Director of Customer Data Analytics for Causemo, providing strategic guidance and support for our nonprofit partners. He has been in the nonprofit world for many years, previously leading the Engagement & Stewardship team for Year Up, as well as managing Donor Advancement Programs for three of the nation’s leading nonprofits (Feeding America, Wounded Warrior Project and CARE).
Get in touch with Ryan: firstname.lastname@example.org