The Procrastinator’s Guide to End of Year Fundraising

Smart fundraisers start planning their end of year fundraising as early as July. 

Why? 

Many successful organizations raise as much as 30% of their individual gifts in December along, sometimes as much as 50%!

Did you procrastinate? There’s still time for you to make end of year epic. You just have to pick and choose where you can have the greatest impact.

I’m here, my fundraising friends with your End of Year Reality Check! I want to help you stay sane. I also what you to get laser focused on what tasks you can do that will have the greatest impact on your fundraising. Some things you may have missed the boat on, like finding a corporate match. Other things are sequential – for example you can’t build a campaign strategy at the same time as you’re trying to execute it. This list contains more than you may be able to tackle, but do your best

End of Year Reality Check

Things you may have missed…

  • Securing a match for end of year or #Giving Tuesday.
  • Reviewing your performance from last year and setting realistic goals for this year (i.e. new donors, average gift, total gifts etc).
  • Planning and building a cohesive multichannel campaign across social, direct mail and digital with matching graphics and a consistent theme. 

There should still be time…

  • Report back on your donor’s last gift.  If you have not properly thanked and reported back to your donor on how their gift this year made an impact then you aren’t ready to ask them again!  Even if you have done this already, contacting them in November to thank them can “warm them up” for your end of year ask and make them feel like giving to you is a smart choice.  Nice ways to do this include: 1) hosting a thankathon where your board (staff if you can’t recruit board members) call and thank donors and tell them how much their gift had an impact 2) postcards, letters and/or emails to donors meaningfully thanking them and communicating the impact of their gift(s) that year. 
  • Craft, test, and schedule well written, emotionally compelling email appeals and clean up your list before sending.
  • Decide if you are participating in #Giving Tuesday and plan your email, social, design assets, and any ambassadors you may recruit.  Ensure (and test) your social sharing buttons on your thank you landing page and that you have staff to actively thank, tweet and promote your donors and successes throughout during the day.   
  • Be sophisticated with your segmentation and personalization of your emails and make certain you take donors OFF the merry go round of receiving your scheduled appeals after they make a gift.
  • Review and test your email thank you autoresponder. It should sound like a human (not a robot) wrote it and make your donor feel like the hero they are for giving to your cause. 
  • Make sure your gift acknowledgment plan is well prepared and staffed – including thank you letters, calls, cards etc.   
  • If you are planning to be out of the office, set a warm, friendly out of office message that includes your phone number.   Who knows, they may have a special year-end surprise for you!
  • Make sure your donate button on your homepage is prominently displayed with eye-catching color and that it takes 1 click to get there.  Test every link to your donation form and remove the global navigation from your donation page. 
  • Make sure every piece of your campaign: emails, website, donation form etc. is mobile optimized.
  • Offer multiple giving channels (email, mobile, social media) all using the same consistent theme, images and branding.
  • To dramatically boost attention to your end of year campaign use a lightbox aka website overlay (the form-based box that pops over a website with a call to action).  To get the best results pick your highest quality image that’s consistent with your end of year theme.  Make sure the “x” or “close window” option is easy to read.  Use it the week or two weeks of your campaign and make sure you set it to pop up only once per day per visitor. 
  • Use a one-page donation form (translates better on mobile device).
  • Reduce the number of steps to confirmation (don’t ask anything you don’t have to and don’t put donors through extra work creating an account).
  • Offer a variety of donation amounts to choose from, pre-fill one and offer a recurring donation option.

Want some extra year-end help?

Check out my End of Year Readiness Clinic. I’ll unveil the unseen pitfalls in your online giving process that’s costing you lost gifts. You’ll get a step by step audit of the giving experience so you can repair it, just in time for a profitable end of year! You’ll also get a mini-course loaded with end of year fundraising tips.

Rachel Muir
Rachel Muir, CFRE transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.
Rachel Muir
By |2019-09-26T07:50:02-04:00September 25th, 2019|Fundraising, Year-End Fundraising|

5 Comments

  1. Sean September 25, 2019 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Rachel,

    I found this article extremely valuable. Often times, we fail to realize the importance of creating a strategy prior to just running out there and going full steam ahead. There must be a systematic approach, which will create success.

    • Rachel Muir
      Rachel Muir September 27, 2019 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      I could not agree more! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Jason September 27, 2019 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    This checklist is invaluable! thank you! I’ll definitely be sharing this one!

    • Rachel Muir
      Rachel Muir September 27, 2019 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      I’m so thrilled you found it helpful, Jason! Here’s wishing you an epic year end!

  3. selina munialo October 8, 2019 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for this awesome article. To be sincere I have passion for empowering girls and young women. Kindly transform me step by step to a confident, successful fundraiser.
    Thank you.

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