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9 Steps for a Successful End-of-Year Appeal
Nonprofit Management

It’s that time of year again. Kids are back in school, the temperatures are starting to drop, and your Board is asking the questions: “Are we going to make our year-end goal?” “Are we doing #GivingTuesday this year?”

Whether you already have a plan in place for your end-of-year appeal and #GivingTuesday, or you need some inspiration, Cramer is here to help. Over the course of the next nine days, we will provide you with nine action steps for your end-of-year or #GivingTuesday appeal.

While you can certainly incorporate direct mail into your plan, our nine action steps will primarily focus on digital content. Why? Because according to a recent study1, email has the highest ROI of any kind of marketing channel, and nonprofits have one of the highest open rates at 25.2%. Additionally, 32% of donors who give online said that social media is the channel that inspires them to give.

Download our End-of-Year Appeal and #GivingTuesday Checklist below now and follow along as we dive deeper into each of the nine steps over the next couple weeks.

Let’s kick things off by diving into step one:

1: Determine your fundraising goal and intent (September)

Fundraising Goal: As the year draws to a close, it’s time to prepare for your #GivingTuesday and year-end appeals. The first step is to set a realistic goal, as well as an internal “audacious but quiet” goal. If you raised $25,000 last year, consider aiming for the same amount or slightly higher, like $27,500. Your audacious but quiet goal could be $35,000, or 25% more than last year. Keep this audacious goal within your team and plan a small celebration if you come close to meeting it.

The most successful appeals usually inform donors of the intended fundraising goal. However, you can also share the goal in creative ways that help donors understand the tangible impact of their donation. Here are a couple examples:

Our goal is to feed 100 families this holiday season.

Your donation this #GivingTuesday will ensure that homeless teens have a safe and warm place to sleep at night.

Intent: What will donations go toward? Historically we have seen that end-of-year and #GivingTuesday appeals that are aimed toward something specific are more successful. Donors want to give to something tangible that they know will help the organization. Do you need a new industrial washer? Funds to spruce up a serenity garden or front landscape? New Chrome Books for your staff or students? If you need donations to be unrestricted, say so in a series of tangible ways:

$100 will ensure a child has a bed to sleep in during the holidays.

$250 will provide a local family with a holiday dinner and food for their family throughout the festive season.

2: Determine your intended audiences (September)

While most nonprofits will send out their end-of-year appeal to their entire database, #GivingTuesday is a perfect time to target a segment of donors, like your LYBUNT (Last Year But Unfortunately Not This year) and/or SYBUNT (Some Year But Unfortunately Not This year) lists. Or maybe you work for a school and want to re-engage graduates from the 2000s.

And don’t overlook your volunteers! Nonprofits often overlook them as a segment of potential donors. #GivingTuesday is a perfect time to engage your volunteers and ask them for what may be a first-time monetary gift.

3: Plan your messaging (September)

Once you have identified your goal, intent, and target audiences, it’s essential to plan your messaging. Since your message will primarily be in digital form, it’s crucial to keep it concise. Avoid repeating your organization’s long history. Use action words in your headlines and subject lines and descriptive language to tell compelling stories. If you’ve segmented your audience, establish a specific message for each segment. Lastly, make sure that you clearly communicate how each gift will make a difference using respectful, inclusive language that aligns with your brand and the communities you serve.

4: Identify and secure a challenge gift (September)

One of the most successful ways to raise end-of-year dollars or reach your quiet audacious goal for #GivingTuesday is to secure a challenge gift. Telling your audience that their gift will be doubled provides a huge incentive for donors.

Look through your database to see who typically gives you a sizeable gift at the end of the year and reach out to them. Ask them if they would consider making their gift a challenge gift this year. They can remain anonymous, but chances are if you meet or exceed your fundraising goal, you will also receive a second or larger gift from that challenge donor before the end of the year and secure their lifelong loyalty.

Start thinking about steps 2-4, and come back tomorrow for step five!

Download the End-of-Year Appeal and #GivingTuesday Checklist

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