Tag: year-end giving

It will soon be spring here at NTEN HQ, in Portland, OR. The days will lengthen, the campsites will reopen (hurrah!), and the bulbs we planted in previous years will start to peek up out of the ground. The upcoming transformations will be outward signs of a lot of intentional planning on the part of our ecosystems, and a reward for the effort we put in last year.

Gardens, like fundraising, take planning and effort. You can’t expect a bumper harvest of vegetables in the spring if you forgot to plant them in the fall. Here’s how you can keep your fundraising strategy from going to seed.

Sow on time, harvest on time

Every year, we backyard gardeners faithfully open our almanac for advice on what to plant, when and how. We follow the book when it says plant peas in the fall and lettuce in the spring. Likewise, fundraisers should know the seasonality of your organization’s fundraising activities. Membership organizations often have an annual drive, some are linked to anniversaries or news events, and event-driven campaigns have their own peaks and troughs. Write the almanac for your organization, starting with the harvest times and work your way backward to activities that create thriving donor relationships.

Fundraising calendar template: https://www.mobilecause.com/fundraising-calendar-template/#yearend

Note: This doesn’t mean GivingTuesday. It may mean the opposite, in fact. If the tall stalks are stealing your sun and distracting your donors, find another time to make your ask.

Show care, especially when it’s quiet

This far north, gardens don’t do much over the winter. However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect them. We spread mulch and eggshells around our plants in the winter, when they’re most vulnerable to cold, disease and pests. Likewise, it’s important to reengage your supporters during the quiet times, send them thank-yous, and make your non-monetary asks. Donors often love to be asked to help year-round, and if you keep the conversation going during the off months, they’ll be more receptive to your in-season ask.

Year-round engagement practices: https://grantspace.org/resources/blog/6-best-practices-for-engaging-your-donors-year-round/

Protect your truffles

Most donors, especially the generous ones, connect with an organization because they believe in its values and its ability to meet its mission. Often, that means that your big donors are also people who hold leverage in other ways, such as being a leader in their community or a well-connected person. That means that sometimes, other parts of your organization might want something from them. But, like truffles, sometimes you should leave them in the ground until they’re ready. Experienced fundraisers will know, sometimes it takes years—even a lifetime—in the case of a big bequest.

Who would want you to risk that relationship? Marketing departments do this all the time: Would you mind if I asked Marcus to reshare this tweet? Can I take Ethan’s photo to show his support for this initiative? Would Sadie be available to talk to the Sentinel about our new campaign? And trust me, as a marketer, you have to tell us, in no uncertain terms: No. Sometimes, this means getting buy-in from the very top of your organization. We marketers might think that whatever we’re working on is paramount but we’re probably not going to argue with the CEO about it.

Be bold

Sometimes, however, fundraisers run the risk of being too precious with our donors. I once worked at an organization that was so timid about asking for money that they suppressed their regular donors for almost their entire summer campaign. They started getting calls from donors who were annoyed that they were running a big campaign and hadn’t asked them for help. It was only then that they changed their strategy and made 40% of their earnings in the last two weeks. Most of them—you guessed it—from regular donors.

A couple of months ago, I fell off my bike onto a row of fava beans, crushing three or four plants and snapping all the struts. After a few minutes of detangling them, I let them be. To my surprise, the next morning there they were, standing at attention once more and straining for the sun. Donors, like plants, are sometimes more robust than we give them credit for. Keep them engaged and push them further with each ask. They might surprise you.

Positive reinforcement for donors: https://www.classy.org/blog/asking-donors-to-give-again-through-positive-reinforcement/

Giving Tuesday is the biggest single giving day of the year. And this year, Facebook is running a match campaign for US-based nonprofit organizations that has the potential to level the playing field for small nonprofits – to the tune of $7 million. Here’s how you can get your slice of that donor match pie.

Register as a nonprofit organization on Facebook

First, you should make sure that you are set up as a nonprofit organization with Facebook. It will take time for Facebook to verify your legitimacy, and they’re likely to get an influx of applications the week before Giving Tuesday, so don’t delay.

For example, here’s the setup page for an organization I work with, the Friends of the Multnomah County Library.

Facebook page setup

Deputize your donors

Facebook’s rules on matching stipulates that there is a maximum of $250,000 per nonprofit and $20,000 per donor. With competition for a share of the $7 million matching pot, you need to get in quick on Giving Tuesday – and that means increasing your number of donors.

A good strategy is to find deputies who are supportive of your cause to create fundraiser buttons. This works a lot like other crowdraising strategies, helping you reach not only your existing donors but their friends and connections.

Help them raise funds on your behalf

Start reaching out to potential deputies early with information on your campaign, how the platform works and what you need from them. Send them stories and impact data that they can reshare with their networks to help them see the importance of donating to your cause. Use your existing donors to seed your list of who to recruit.

Once you have your deputies in place, it is important that you communicate with them how this works and what their expectations are. At minimum, you should send them this article. You also may want to send them some Facebook resources and volunteer instructions that are unique to this task.

Make it a competition

I recently attended a gala for L&LS Man and Woman of the year. It was the final event of several weeks of fundraising initiatives, each participant being a member of a team that was trying to raise more than the others. And every team had a team leader who was in the running for the top prize. The event was not only an awards ceremony but an auction that served as a last-ditch effort for a team to pull ahead. By building this competition, hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised in the Portland area alone.

This is a rather grand example, but if you’ve ever been involved in a fundraising penny war, you’ll realize it’s the same basic principle. Even if you can’t afford to do something as big as L&LS, you can learn from them and apply it to this fundraising event. Make your own competition to encourage people to donate that has rules and prizes that speak to what your organization is about. Giving a prize that is relevant to what your organization does will be a more personal touch in reaching your deputies and remind people of why they’re advocates of what you do.

The early bird gets the $7m worm

Not only should you get the jump in getting verified by Facebook, recruiting and training deputies, you should be timely in the donation ask. The hungry, hungry hippos race for those seven million matching dollars begins at 8am ET. That’s 5am on the west coast. So you have to get rolling on this bright and early in the morning. Reach out to donors beforehand to encourage them to make a donation first thing in the morning on Giving Tuesday.

Get started right now to unlock your Giving Tuesday match.

With the light still with us to mid-evening and the pumpkin spice barely dusted, it’s hard to think about the negative wind chill and frantic fundraising that is coming in December. But as one of Big Duck’s resident fundraising mavens, year-end campaign season–often dubbed “a nonprofit’s most financially rewarding time of the year”–is always on my mind. So why do I want it on yours? Well, it’s really never too early to get started, and I want to help make it easy—so let’s focus on the tools you already have: your brand and your donors.

Use your brand strategy to guide your fundraising

If you’ve read Brandraising, or attended one of our sessions at the NTC, you know that the heart of your brand strategy is positioning and personality. Positioning is the big idea that you hope supporters associate with your organization. It’s also what sets you apart. Personality is the set of attributes or feelings you want people to associate with your organization. With your organization’s positioning and personality in hand, you can develop or judge different creative themes for your fundraising campaign.

Farra Trompeter quote: By tailoring your approach to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you.Because your year-end fundraising should be an extension of your work year-round, these communications should feel like an extension of your usual communications. Yes, your year-end campaign should be special, and this may be a time of year where you invest more time and money into what you send out. But if your year-end fundraising does not sound, look, and feel like you, your current donors may be confused and less likely to give. Use year-end fundraising to accentuate your incredible work and reinforce what they already know– and love– about you.

As you develop the campaign theme and roadmap to connect all campaign elements, don’t forget to start by breaking down your fundraising goals into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives. Once you have crafted those objectives (download this handy worksheet), it’s easier to hone in on the strategies and tactics that will achieve them.

Appeal to your core donors – and acknowledge them too

Fundraising campaigns typically focus on renewing or appealing to existing donors, reinstating lapsed donors, and/or acquiring new donors. For year-end fundraising campaigns, we often recommend organizations focus first on renewing past supporters, either recent or lapsed, rather than running a major acquisition campaign to get new supporters. That’s because less than one of out of every three new donors renew their support (based on the latest data from Fundraising Effectiveness Project summarized by Bloomerang)–but when they do, they are 15% more likely to keep on giving–so the value of a donor retained can be far greater than that of one acquired.

By tailoring your approach to year-end fundraising to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you into the future.

As we enter the season of giving, be sure to give donors other actions to take beyond giving and remember to say ‘thank you’ to all of your supporters. This can be a great time to make phone calls, send handwritten notes, post a video message or thanks, and let donors know that you love them. Not sure what to say on a thank you call? Try this thank you call guide so that staff, board members, and volunteers go into each call with a game plan.

If you do want to acquire new donors through your year-end appeals, consider running a mini-campaign for #GivingTuesday. While some organizations just send out one email on #GivingTuesday, many nonprofits find success sending out multiple emails before, during, and after that day, as well as posting on social media channels and their website. If you acquire new donors on #GivingTuesday be sure to engage them once they give via a welcome series or a more segmented approach in your follow-up communications.

Still hungry for more tips?

My colleague, Ally Dommu, Big Duck’s director of strategy, shares these five high-value tips that you can put in place now and test before year-end season.

Spring has sprung, and we all know what that means—time to start thinking about your GivingTuesday strategy!

If only it were this easy…

Yes, it’s not until November, but if you want your nonprofit’s worthy cause to stand out from the crowd and inspire your supporters, now is the time to start your plans.

Coming up on May 23, Digital Storytelling in Fundraising will help you create compelling narratives to share with your supporters, so that they feel more connected to your work and your mission.

Once you’ve got those creative juices flowing, make sure your plan is powered by data: define the metrics you need to engage donors and increase income with our Data-Driven Fundraising course.

There are many pieces to the fundraising puzzle, and our online courses can help you see the big picture and all the little details. By the time GivingTuesday rolls around this year, you’ll be calm, cool, and collected in the midst of the storm, watching all your hard work and preparation pay off.

There are trees, and there is forest. There are anecdotes, and there is data. There are the pinprick pixels of our individual experiences, and there is the vast picture they paint together of the world we share.

The M+R Benchmarks Study is our annual attempt to bridge that divide. This year, we have collected an extensive array of data points from 154 nonprofit participants. Each of them marks a single digital interaction with a supporter: an email opened, a donation made, a petition signed, a website visited, an ad clicked, a Facebook post liked, or tweet retweeted. All told, these add up to 4,699,299,330 email messages, 527,754,635 web visits, and 11,958,385 donations.

NTEN is proud to partner with M+R once again for the latest Benchmarks report. Explore or download it here.


#GivingTuesday is approaching fast, and organizations that are brand new to the the movement are gearing up to make the most of it. For organizations that have never participated in Giving Tuesday before, it can feel overwhelming. These seven tips will help you meet your fundraising goals and engage new supporters.

1. Maximize your online donation page

Not all donation pages are created equal. Branding matters: Donors are more likely to donate on a branded donation page versus an unbranded PayPal page. Impact stories that accompany donation amounts help build trust with donors. Over 75% of donors give based on their understanding of an organization’s impact. Nonprofits can also raise more with their donation page by giving donors options like the ability to contribute monthly and to cover payment transaction fees.

Another idea I recommend is to set up a campaign page dedicated to your #GivingTuesday efforts. Provide as many specifics as possible about your organization’s impact on the big day, and make sure to let donors know there’s a deadline to encourage them to support your organization on November 28. Finally, make sure your donation page is responsive and easy for donors to use on mobile, tablet, or desktop.

2. Stay in touch with donors

Let your donors in on your #GivingTuesday plans before the big day. Send them an email at least a week out encouraging them to give and sing your praises to their own networks leading into #GivingTuesday. Check in again on Thanksgiving Day expressing your thanks for their contributions to your cause over the course of the year. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, send at least one reminder each day about #GivingTuesday so donors keep you top-of-mind as they think about their end-of-year budget. Schedule your first email to go out early on #GivingTuesday with a link to your donation page that includes a simple reminder explaining how their donations will support your cause.

Don’t be afraid to send multiple reminders throughout the day. If you can, segment your list: Send a different message to people who already donated, or people who haven’t yet opened or click your first message. Tailoring your ask helps supporters feel more appreciated and more likely to take the next step.

3. Get active on social media

The hashtag #GivingTuesday will be trending on Twitter and Facebook throughout the big day. Get in on the action and attract new donors by using #GivingTuesday in all of your social posts leading into the day. Use Thanksgiving puns, Black Friday deals, or any other creative ideas you come up with to draw more people to your social media accounts. Try out new donation pitches and see which gets the most engagement (likes, retweets, etc.).

Also, make sure you have an easy way for donors to give when they land on your profile. If you haven’t already, create a “Donate” button on your Facebook page that leads donors directly to your donation page.

4. Consider setting a goal (and making it public)

Setting a goal will not only help your team measure success but it will also help you raise more. Come up with a goal that’s a realistic stretch for you, then publicize it in communications with your donors. You can even include the goal on your donation page and feature a progress bar that tracks donations in real-time. Meters that track progress toward a goal are proven to increase completion rates of your donation forms. They can also make #GivingTuesday more exciting for you and your donors.

5. Find a sponsor

Companies are eager to connect with causes leading into #GivingTuesday. Connect with small businesses in your area or larger companies (if you have a connection) and ask if they’ll support your organization on #GivingTuesday with a matching donation, promotional support, or both. You can pitch it to businesses and brands as a way to expand their audience (and yours) and garner positive press coverage.

6. Throw a party

Invite donors over for an impromptu #GivingTuesday celebration, then encourage them to donate via text or mobile device. Don’t try to create a formal event out of it, just offer some light food and beverages, and print and distribute your donation information. For entertainment, project your page with a progress meter on a screen to encourage donors who make it to the event to give even more. Think of it as an informal kick-off for end-of-year giving.

7. Say thank you

At the end of the day, email your supporters again thanking them for contributing on #GivingTuesday. Express gratitude and give donors a sense of how their donations will be used to support your mission. People like to be thanked. Send them a thank-you note that doesn’t ask for another donation but simply shows your gratitude. Thanking donors makes them more likely to give to your organization again and again. Touch base with the same donors again before year’s end.

#GivingTuesday takes place on November 28th this year and wise nonprofits are already planning strategies to leverage this massive day of giving. This year, six key factors are conspiring to make this the perfect year for peer-to-peer fundraising (the act of your supporters asking their own community for donations on your behalf) to be a powerful addition for your nonprofit’s strategy.

Here’s why:

1. #GivingTuesday has significant brand recognition

In the short span since the idea was hatched in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become the de facto start to the end-of-year giving season. This reality is driven not just by the recognition of the day within the nonprofit community but within society more generally. With more and more folks familiar with the idea of #GivingTuesday, it’s easier for your supporters to seek donations from their friends and family as part of that day.

2. Nonprofits need to broaden their reach on #GivingTuesday

It’s one thing to preach to the choir on #GivingTuesday. It’s quite another to add members to that choir. Most nonprofits have effective end-of-year appeals that activate existing supporters with or without #GivingTuesday. What they are hungry for is a way to broaden their supporter base. Peer-to-peer fundraising strategies around #GivingTuesday fit nicely into that goal.

3. Donor fatigue this end-of-year season puts a premium on social proof

There was a deluge in donations at the end of 2016. Many were in response to the results of the presidential election and, as we approach one year past that election, donor fatigue during this upcoming end-of-year giving season will likely be high. Leveraging your supporters to advocate on your behalf will be a powerful form of social proof that can help overcome potential donor malaise.

4. Nonprofits are starting #GivingTuesday appeals earlier

As the profile of #GivingTuesday has risen, nonprofits have responded by creating and executing plans earlier and earlier in the year. No longer are they simply tweeting a couple of times with the #GivingTuesday hashtag on the day itself and calling it good. This advanced planning is perfectly in line with the requirements for mobilizing existing supporters, allowing for the time needed to recruit and inform ambassadors for your cause.

5. Increased options and decreased cost for peer-to-peer platforms

Once the province of just a couple of providers charging significant fees, peer-to-peer fundraising platforms have grown in number and shrunk in cost, making them more accessible to nonprofits of various sizes and budgets.

6. Integrations with peer-to-peer platforms are better

Peer-to-peer fundraising solutions are about leveraging and expanding relationships. As such, they cry out for tight integrations with constituent relationship management (CRM) solutions like Salesforce. As peer-to-peer options have multiplied, they have also matured and added integrations with CRMs that multiple the effect of your supporters’ efforts while minimizing paper-pushing on your end.

With a little strategic planning, you can leverage peer-to-peer fundraising to meet not only your #GivingTuesday goals, but to reach new supporters and increase your year-end giving overall.

This article first appeared on Jo Miles Digital and is republished here with permission.

You probably don’t want to think about year-end fundraising right now. Here in DC, it was in the 90s this weekend, the sun is blazing, and November feels far away. But winter is coming, and now is the time to prepare.

You’re no sweet summer child. You’ve seen year-end fundraising before, and you know that, however busy you are this summer, you’ll be busier come year-end. Anything you do now to set yourself up for stronger fundraising will help you succeed when it matters.

And the good news is, like the farmers of Westeros socking away extra food, many of your fundraising preparations are things you should be doing anyway. They don’t even have to take away from your current work. Here are a few projects you could take on now to save yourself some pain when winter (and year-end) arrives:

Tend your infrastructure

Is your Google Analytics set up to track donations? Are you tracking conversions on Facebook ads? Do you have the data you’ll need in your CRM? Now is a great time (especially while your coworkers are on vacation) to make sure your systems are all talking to each other and that your data is being stored correctly.

If you have time, do an audit of your data systems, paying special attention to fundraising-related data. If you notice something broken, during an audit or your daily operations, fix it now.

Set up your pilot projects

Remember last December when you said to your teammate “I wish we could…” but it was already too late to try it during that campaign? Maybe you wanted to take donations directly over SMS or Facebook, or thought you could finally apply for that Google Grant, or had a cool interactive content idea. Dredge up those project ideas now and decide which ones you want to tackle for this year-end.

Implementations often take longer than you expect, so an early start could be the difference between having it ready for year-end, or not.

Gather your stories, photos, and videos

Great stories are often the key to great fundraising content, but finding the right stories isn’t always easy. The same goes for great visual content. Start keeping an eye out for the stories you want to re-tell during year-end, and when you find a good candidate, record it. Get in touch with the subject, do a write-up, and get photo and video if you can. That way, it’ll be easy to repurpose when you start creating fundraising content.

Grow your list

You should be growing your audiences all the time, but the second half of the year is especially important. Now is the time to step up your recruitment, and get as many new supporters as possible onto your email list so you can build a relationship with them before a big flurry of fundraising asks.

Test your forms

Testing is another task that, ideally, you should be doing regularly. If you’re not, think about your donation forms and the experience they’re providing your supporters. What questions have come up in internal discussions about your forms? Now is the ideal time to undertake some testing to prove or disprove your hypotheses about what drives donations, and it’ll boost your conversion rates down the road.