Year-end campaigns are lurking right around the corner.
Here in Nonprofit Land, we’re writing appeals, and setting goals, and looking nervously at our calendars, as the end of the year creeps ever closer.
You know who’s probably not thinking about year-end fundraising at all?
As strange as it seems to us on the inside, the average person is not planning their schedule based on how many days are left until December 31.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually an opportunity to build stronger relationships with your supporters before you make your year-end asks.
Here are 5 ways to connect with your donors before end of year
First things first
Before we dive in, let’s acknowledge a few truths:
- You’re busy
- There has been lots of doom and gloom about giving and the economy this year, which may have increased your anxiety about your campaign.
- The idea of adding one more thing to your schedule might make you feel vaguely nauseous
In no way am I suggesting that you have to do all five of these things. Pick what works for you, leave the rest. Every step you take towards connection and relationship is a step in the right direction. If you only have the capacity for a single step this year, take that one and give yourself a break.
We talk all the time about not treating donors like ATMs, but what does that look like in practice? If your donors go long periods of time without hearing from you, only to have you pop up in December asking for money, you’re in dangerous territory.
Instead, use the opportunity of the weeks leading up to the new year to connect, engage, and remind your supporters of why they support you. Then, when those year-end asks arrive, they’ll be based on a strong foundation.
1. Say thank you
When was the last time you thanked your supporters? Take the opportunity to do it again. In addition to all the things that are good about gratitude, this is also a way to remind people they gave–they honestly may have forgotten!
Remind them of their generosity, and your thankfulness by:
- Hosting a thank-a-thon phone call party with your board
- Send a personalized email without an ask
- Drop some thank you postcards in the mail
Establishing your appreciation for the gifts they’ve already given is a great start to your year-end campaign.
2. Ask questions
You’ve probably asked your supporters for money this year, but have you asked them for their opinions? Relationships aren’t a one-way street, and inviting supporters to engage in conversation with your organization establishes a deeper connection.
Donor surveys are one way to get to know your supporters and understand their motivations and priorities. Even a short survey of one or two questions can help you get the conversation rolling. Consider asking about:
- Donor experience: How’s it going?
- Donor motivation: Why do they support you?
- Following up on event attendance or volunteer experiences
If you find you’re not getting enough survey responses, add a follow up, and consider adding different communication channels, like social media or text messaging.
3. Pick up the phone
The phone might be old fashioned, but it’s an incredible tool for connection. Calling to say thank you, to invite someone to an event, or to follow up on an experience can make a big difference to your donors.
Thank-you calls are a great, low-pressure place to start. Whether you simply call 10 donors a day to say thanks (it’s quicker than you think, especially since you’re likely to leave voicemails most of the time) or call to touch base with your major donors before year end, a personal call can make a big impression.
Did you run a peer-to-peer fundraiser on GivingTuesday? Call to say thank you after that event. This gives you the opportunity to answer their questions and humanizes their connection to the organization, which increases both accountability and good feelings.
4. Report on impact
People give to nonprofits because they want to help a cause they care about and see a change in the world. When was the last time you told donors how it’s going? Have your supporters from earlier campaigns heard what’s happening? Your supporters from last year’s year-end campaign?
When you’re busy, which every fundraiser is, it can be hard to close the loop with donors in a timely manner. It’s not too late to check back in! Even a brief email thanking them again for their support, and letting them know the latest news about the project or program they supported can help send the message that you do what you say you will.
5. Invite more connection
We tend to think of “asks” as exclusively monetary, especially at year end. But there are other ways your supporters might want to be involved. Consider inviting them to follow you on social media if they don’t already, sign up for emails if they only receive postal mail, share a story with a friend, or attend a volunteer event.
Year-round relationships for year-end success
While the end of the year is intense, keep sight of the big picture. Your supporters care about your cause every month of the year. When you focus on connecting with them outside of year-end fundraising, you’ll find yourself with deeper donor relationships that impact your fundraising during giving season and beyond.
What last-minute strategies would you add to the list to help connect with donors before end of year?