Why? Donors who just made a donation to your nonprofit during the end-of-year giving season might not think you need another donation from them so soon after they made their last gift. They also might have stretched their budgets for holiday gifts and travel and don’t have as much to give as they would during other times of year.
Factors like these tend to lead to fewer donations and a lower donor engagement rate during this time of year. While that is likely still going to be the case this January, here are three things that you can do to fundraise without exhausting your donors or ignoring their financial realities.
1. Start by thanking your donors.
One way to remind donors that their contributions are valuable and their continued support is important is to remind them of their impact. January is the perfect time to report back to your donors and share how you used their donations to further your mission.
You really can’t overdo this. From emails to videos to phone calls and beyond, do whatever you can to personally connect with each of your donors and make sure that they know how much you value them and the incredible impact their giving has already had for those you serve.
If you’re still looking for the right number of thank you or “y-touch” communications to send, a good rule of thumb is to double the number of y-touches you typically send each month.
If you typically send out one monthly newsletter, two social media posts that share a story of hope, and one encouraging email, double that number between the end of December and the middle of January. Obviously, use your judgment about the number, but if you vary the channels you use, you shouldn’t worry too much about exhausting your donors.
Before you get overwhelmed at that thought, keep in mind that these additional communications don’t need to be complex. Maybe you write a simple post on social media that says thank you with an explanation of why you’re thanking your donors (the impact they had). Get your CEO to record a thank you video that you can send via email, put on your website, and share on social media. You can even send a postcard in the mail with the same copy as your social media post.
Again, these don’t need to be complex or expensive or take up too much of your team’s time. Just remember to vary the channels you use so your efforts don’t overwhelm your donors.
2. Ask your donors to give monthly.
You may have already made an ask in your year-end campaign that encouraged donors to turn their one-time gifts into recurring donations. However, January is a great time to make monthly donations the main ask—at least when it comes to your general donors. That category will depend on your average donation size, but a good group to target would be donors who have given less than $1,000 to your nonprofit in the last year.
To effectively target monthly donors, you need to segment them in a separate list from your other donors. And when you do reach out, make sure that you ask them to give an amount that they’re likely able to donate.
For example, if someone gave you $20 last year, asking them to give a monthly gift of $5 or more is a great place to start. That should not only feel reasonable to them, but it’s also in line with what they have given previously. It will also help you increase their giving amount from $20 annually to $60 annually. That’s a huge jump!
Think about the potential that exists when you reach out to your donors. If you’re able to replicate that success with a large number of donors, you’ll see a huge increase in the number of donations and an increase in your revenue.
No matter what dollar amount you’re asking for, make sure you include multiple giving levels so that your donors can select the amount that makes the most sense to them.
For example, if you’re asking for $50 a month, your giving levels could be $50, $75, and $100. It’s also critical to have a place for them to enter in their own donation amount. You may be surprised to see some of your donors commit to a higher amount than what is listed in your ask array just by having this option available.
The key to increasing the number of donors who give monthly is to customize your monthly ask amounts to your donors. Ask them to give too much, and they may feel used or think that you don’t value smaller donations. Ask them to give too little, however, and you leave money on the table.
Now, when it comes to asking them to become a monthly donor starting in January, here’s how you can make that appeal:
Thank them for their support in the previous year and let them know what specific impact they had on your mission.
Explain that giving monthly is a great way for them to continue to change lives in the new year.
Use a compelling story to illustrate their giving impact.
Include a specific ask to give monthly. You should also include an option for them to make an additional one-time gift if they’re not able to commit to a monthly giving program.
Make it as easy as possible for them to give. Have a link that goes right to the monthly donation page on your website, include the relevant information on the reply device in your direct mail piece, etc.
One last piece of advice: I recommend steering clear of asking your major donors to switch to monthly giving rather than making one larger donation. Focus on your general and mid-level donors to see the best possible results.
3. Use your tax receipts wisely.
Think about tax receipts as another opportunity to make an ask.
Your tax receipt is a great place to combine the elements we talked about above. Include a message of thanks and a story of hope and ask your donors to make an extra one-time gift or to give monthly.
While fundraising in January may not be as lucrative as it was in the last few months of the year, there are still some valuable things you can do to set your organization up for success and bring in extra revenue as well. Try the steps above and see how your donors respond!
Kari Trent Stageberg, MBA is the co-founder of The Nonprofit Consulting Shop. She also runs a small nonprofit with her dad called StrongFamilies. Blending her decade of experience with strategy and development for multi-million-dollar nonprofits, Kari’s passion is to help nonprofits of any size experience agency level support to help them reach their goals.