It’s getting to be that time of year. We’re just a short few months away from the start of end-of-year giving.
That means it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to segment and execute your end of year appeal.
Q4 giving has traditionally been the time of year when the majority of dollars are given. Even with the new tax laws, you should make sure that you’ve given your end of year strategies have some thought to ensure the highest success rate.
Think about dividing your list into these four categories. Let’s start with the bottom and move up:
1. More than 1 year lapsed and any non-donors
This is the group that will cost you the most per dollar raised. You shouldn’t expect more than a .5 percent to 1 percent return on your efforts. If you lead straight in with an appeal with this group, you’re going to see numbers even less than that. You need to do some education first. Think about inviting this group into a tour of your impact (if you can) before you send the appeal. Send a newsletter or note of the impact of their prior gift before your solicitation. If you can secure a board match, this is a perfect group to leverage that on.
2. 1 year lapsed
This group is probably on cue to give at the end of the year. Make sure that you’ve communicated to them about their impact in the past. Don’t ask them for an upgrade, but this is a group that you may want to ask for a monthly contribution so they don’t fall into this group again.
3. First-time donors in the past year
As we go down the list, I’d be prepared to spend more time with this group. They are perfect candidates to ask for a small increase as well as a monthly contribution. For gain in this scenario, I’d see about getting a board match for new monthly donors. Make sure you have a good acknowledgment plan for this group including a call from a board member or staff, and a hand written note in January about the success of the effort.
4. Multiple year in a row givers
Before you send this group a solicitation, run them through DonorSearch to get an idea of their philanthropic capacity. Are these potential high impact donors who haven’t been asked yet? If so, take them out of this list (more on that in a little). For the others, think about a return envelope that has three or four giving options where the first one is what they gave last year. This a group primed for an upgrade ask. Just like the previous group, the gift asks and gift acknowledgment are equally important because you do not want to lose these donors.
Bonus: Major donors
If you’re like the normal nonprofit, you’ve got a handful of large impact donors. My guess is that most of them aren’t giving their large gift in response to an annual letter ask. Rather you get those gifts with in-person asks. Take this group and any of the ones in the multiple year in a row category with high philanthropic capacity and send them the appeal. But write on the appeal that you send them the update so they can be informed about the work you’re doing to ensure the organization is sustainable. Make sure you’ve got a meeting or two scheduled before the end of year for the in-person ask.
Have you done segmenting like this before? How successful were you?