Most charitable donations—whether from large corporations or individual donors—happen at the end of the year. That’s why the holiday season is the busiest for nonprofits. With all those donations, though, nonprofits often forget about sharing their year-end fundraising results.
Once the busy season slows down, nonprofits are not only left with a wealth of donations. They’re left with a wealth of information. That information—revenue, fundraising tactics, and more—is just as valuable as the donations themselves.
In this blog post, we’ll unpack the following questions:
- Why is year-end fundraising important?
- Why is it important to showcase the results of year-end giving?
- How can nonprofits showcase their year-end results in a digital report?
- What should you include in your year-end report?
- How should nonprofits acknowledge economic setbacks?
- Where and how should nonprofits share their report?
Now, let’s dig in!
Why is end-of-year fundraising important for nonprofits?
Nonprofits conduct fundraising campaigns throughout the year. But, it’s well-known that the most popular days to give happen during the end of the calendar year. Some donations are for tax benefits—and the chance to write off a donation. Many individuals and corporations give right before the year is over for this very reason. Other donations during the holiday season are more altruistic in nature. Many people like to give back to celebrate the holidays and spread some cheer.
Regardless of the motivation, there are a few key giving dates during the holiday season that bring in huge amounts of donations. Giving Tuesday, December, and the last three days of the year tend to be the most popular giving days. This year Giving Tuesday raised about 3.1 billion. And on average, almost 30% of all giving occurs during December. Even more shocking? Almost 10% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year. Talk about a busy season.
With all those donations, of course, comes more responsibility. That’s where reporting comes in.
Why is it important for nonprofits to showcase the results of year-end giving?
With all this giving, nonprofits are overwhelmed. They’re processing matching gifts, following up with first-time donors, cashing checks, and more. Of course, these tasks are important. But, it’s also crucial that nonprofits take the time to assess and communicate the results of their end-of-year giving season, too. Though it’s hard to think of the future when you’re in the busy seasons, it’s essential.
Showcasing end-of-year giving:
Helps your nonprofit stand out from competitors
It’s no secret that people tend to be most charitable at the end of the year. Most charities are aware of these patterns. To capitalize on the generosity of their supporters, most nonprofits launch seasonal campaigns. With so many nonprofits launching campaigns at the same time, the marketplace can get pretty crowded.
Reporting on your end-of-year giving results is a great way to help your nonprofit stand out from competitors. Communicating your results in a professional way will remind readers of your unique story, and of your dedication to being results-driven.
Builds trust and transparency with supporters
Donors want to feel in control of their contributions. Meaning, they want to know exactly how their money is spent, and why. When nonprofits are transparent about their campaigns, they build trust. Trust is essential to creating an authentic organization that people want to give to.
Provides great marketing material for the new year
At the end of the year, most organizations have little time to work on anything other than their campaign. That’s why marketing departments are often scrambling for new material to share in the new year.
Metrics around the success of the year-end campaign work as great marketing material. Whether you’re reaching your supporters via email, or social media, end-of-year results are a great way to kick off a new year and build off the momentum from the holidays.
One of the best ways to keep both long-time support and new donors is to engage them. A great method for engagement is maintaining consistent communication with them. Publishing the results of your year-end campaigns is a great excuse to get in touch with supporters again. And even more importantly, thank them again. Gratitude is one of the best ways to keep stakeholders on your team and inspired to keep giving.
Builds a relationship with donors
What’s one of the biggest mistakes that nonprofits make at the end of every year? Neglecting to build relationships with their donors. Organizations that provide information about their work make stakeholders feel more connected to the mission. And bonded to their contributions. They’ll form a relationship with you and your work and won’t feel like you’ve forgotten about them.
Helps with internal auditing and progress
Aside from all the donor-facing benefits of reporting on your holiday campaign, there are lots of great reasons to do it for your staff, too. Assessing and communicating results helps internal staff members stay on track. It allows your team to consider what worked and what didn’t. And, how you might use that information to inform next year’s strategy.
So while creating a digital report allows you to engage with supporters, it’s also essential for internal strategizing.
Now that we’ve covered why showcasing your end-of-year results is important, let’s get into how to do it.
How should nonprofits share year-end campaign results in a report?
There are many ways that nonprofits can share the result of their end-of-year giving.
First, it’s important to establish where you might showcase these results.
Popular mediums include:
- Paper newsletters
- Digital reporting
Print vs. digital
Many nonprofits are still wrestling with whether they should start going digital with their practices. Or, if they should continue with paper solutions (snail mail, paper newsletters, etc.). While many nonprofits feel tied to the paper trail, digital solutions have begun to take over the industry. Mobile giving has spiked and digital natives have become target donors. As time goes on, digital-first solutions have begun to take center stage.
Given the popularity of nonprofit software solutions, we’re going to focus on how nonprofits can showcase their results using digital tools. Mainly, a digital report. Nonprofit digital reports allow organizations to provide comprehensive insight into results. And, they help turn readers into donors.
While every nonprofit is different—with different audiences, goals, etc.—a digital report is also one of the most cost-efficient and effective methods for communicating your successes. Unlike other mediums, a digital, printable report is one of the best ways to connect with supporters. A report combines all the best nonprofit marketing tactics into one central asset.
Now that we’ve chosen the format, let’s unpack what you’ll need to include in your report.
What to include in year-end nonprofit digital reports
Every nonprofit is different, so every digital report will be different. But, most follow the same general guidelines.
When creating your digital report, be sure to:
Establish a theme
Like writing an annual report, nonprofits must establish a theme for their end-of-year report. A theme helps to unite the goals and purpose of the campaign with the organization’s overarching story and mission. And, it helps your team stay on track when creating the report.
When deciding on your theme consider the following questions:
- What core values within our organization fueled this campaign?
- What does this campaign say about us as an organization?
- What’s the story that connects this one campaign to who we are as a charity?
In answering these questions, you’ll be able to identify one central message. This message will help inform the rest of the report.
Pro tip examples of themes:
“A season of hope”
“A time for community and empathy”
“Our year-end giving campaign: progress on the horizon”
State the purpose and goals of the campaign
The goal of any organization in executing a year-end campaign is to secure donations. But, be specific about why those donations are crucial. What programs or initiatives are you hoping to fund? What communities are you trying to help? Why is it important?
And of course, state the goals of the campaign. Make sure to include both quantitative and qualitative goals. Including both kinds of goals will help readers understand your vision and connect with the campaign.
Outline the strategy behind your campaign
Consider how your team went about meeting your goals. Did you tell impactful stories on social media? Did you cross-promote with partners? Did you focus on in-person fundraisers? All these answers give supporters a glimpse into your tactics.
Summarize the outcomes
Of course, this is one of the most important parts, and what readers will be most interested in. Detail the successes and even setbacks. This part of the report should inform readers, thank them, and inspire them (more on that soon!). This section should also answer questions like: what happened? Did you succeed or were there setbacks?
Gratitude is everything. Dedicate lots of time and energy to spotlighting specific donors or volunteers. Highlight those that made a difference in your campaign. The more that stakeholders feel appreciated, the better.
Provide an opportunity for action
The best nonprofit digital reports inspire readers to take action. Successful reports include a few different CTAs. For year-end reporting, give readers several opportunities for getting involved in future campaigns, or how they can take part in the new year. Consider how your fundraising successes from year-end will aid future programs and initiatives. How can your readers—and various stakeholders—contribute to those efforts?
You now have the main content down, so let’s discuss how to write and showcase your results in your report.
7 ways to showcase year-end campaign results in nonprofit digital reports
Effective nonprofit digital reports tell a story. They make supporters feel involved in the mission and motivated to help. To do this, reports should be emotion-driven, interactive, and actionable.
Data visualization is one of the best ways to help communicate complicated metrics, and it helps to keep readers interested. Create infographics that represent both your qualitative and quantitative results.
- Pie charts
- Line graphs
- Column chart
- Bar graphs
Impact stories are nonprofits’ greatest strength. Whether in the form of a video or a photo, heartfelt stories are a great way to showcase the result of your campaign. Consider sharing stories from Giving Tuesday. Feature community members benefitted from donations, or beneficiaries that benefitted from other holiday giving.
Impact stories can focus on:
- Board members
Select stories that are compelling and stakeholders that are open to telling those stories. Consider whose story is both touching and representative of your mission and goals.
Embedding social media posts is a great way to show off your marketing efforts. Show supporters how you showed up online, what stories you told, and how. Are there tweets or Facebook posts that performed well, and brought in funds? Share them!
Social media is also a great way to showcase that your nonprofit is abreast of industry news and trends. This is crucial for establishing your organization as a thought leader in the space.
Writing dense paragraphs about your process and the execution behind your strategy can be boring for readers. Instead, create a timeline with visuals. Even better, make it interactive. The more you can excite readers and better explain your process, the more involved they’ll want to be.
Photos and videos
Visual content is the bread and butter of showcasing impact. Include photos of real beneficiaries or embed stock photography to support your text. And consider adding video, which is great for storytelling.
Types of successful photos or videos include:
- Photo or videos of volunteers in action
- Photos or videos of beneficiaries
- Photos or videos of year-end in-person fundraisers
- Photos or videos of staff or board members in action
Honor rolls are a great way to show donor gratitude in an end-of-year campaign report. Upload your CSV file or spreadsheet into your nonprofit digital reports to save time and effort. This will give your contributors the spotlight they deserve.
By integrating custom buttons and links into your report, readers can check out partner websites, citations, and more. And, for those that want to make the most out of their report, include custom donation links. Or newsletter sign-up buttons. That way, readers can become a part of your community without closing out the report.
Now that we’ve covered how to highlight your year-end successes in your report, let’s dig into how you can tackle the setbacks.
How should nonprofits communicate setbacks in their year-end report?
This year was tough for the economy. With inflation on the rise, people tend to have less money to give to charity. So what does that mean for nonprofit reporting?
Whether your organization met its campaign goal or not, it’s crucial to recognize the struggles of your supporters. And, where your funding fell short.
Address financial hardship and the recession outright. Explain to supporters how your end-of-year campaign respected the financial limitations of your stakeholders. Communicate that you understand that your community had less to give this year — both to your organization and charities as a whole.
Set goals for next year
After acknowledging the challenges of the year, set hopeful goals for the future. How will you approach end-of-year giving next year? What lessons from this year’s campaign—and its challenges—will inform your decisions for the years to follow?
Find the silver lining
Sometimes, falling short of a fundraising goal is helpful. It provides a nonprofit with the ability to motivate supporters to give in the future. In the case of the recession, frame giving around incremental amounts, or pay later options.
Pro CTA example: We’re just $X away from our goal—can you pitch in just $5?
Though it seems obvious, it’s important for nonprofits to lean into gratitude more this year than in years prior. Focus on the impact of your supporters’ contributions, no matter how big or small they were.
Putting it all together: best practices for showcasing year-end results in a digital report
Integrating all the above elements into your year-end campaign report is essential. In doing so, keep these important few best practices in mind.
Make the text scannable
Unfortunately, most supporters won’t read your report in its entirety. That’s why it’s important that you design your report around the most important information and takeaways. Bold key statistics and highlight important links and buttons.
Stay on brand
Every nonprofit has a unique story or brand. By staying on brand, nonprofits can stand out from the competition, and look professional. That’s why nonprofits should incorporate their style guide into their digital reports. Use your organization’s fonts and colors throughout. In turn, readers will remember your unique brand and story.
Speak to the audience
While much of your report should be visually appealing, there’s bound to be some text included, too. When writing your report, keep your audience in mind. Are you writing for your volunteers, board members, donors, or all three? Ensure that whoever picks up the report can understand it and feels connected to the mission.
Where and how should nonprofits share a year-end report?
Once your report is designed and published, you’ll need to share it with your stakeholders. A year-end campaign report is great, fresh marketing material. It’s full of exciting updates, impact, and gratitude.
Each nonprofit’s stakeholders are different. Some are online, in-person, or on social media.
Regardless of where your supporters are, here are some creative ways to share your year-end giving report:
One of the benefits of creating a digital year-end report is the ability to share it on social media. Post specific pages, or the entire report to your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Tag important partners or other stakeholders that were critical to your campaign efforts for some organic sharing.
Print your digital report to send to supporters via snail mail. Or, attach it to an e-newsletter. Start the new year off with exciting news, and a message of gratitude.
Custom URL on your website
Like annual and impact reports, your year-end giving report can live right on your website. Host your report, with a custom URL, on your homepage or on a separate tab for easy access.
A year-end giving campaign is a great opportunity to keep your staff on track, engage with supporters, and give thanks. No matter the struggles or setbacks of the year, it’s crucial to connect after a busy season and start the new year off right.
Ready to start creating a professional year-end campaign report? Check out Yearly’s free trial. With custom nonprofit-first support, tips, and more, you can create your year-end report with ease.