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Winter Is Coming: 9 Steps to Get Ready for Year-End Online Giving

The year-end giving season is your organization's opportunity to engage with supporters, donors, volunteers, and fans, whether your ultimate goal is deepening relationships or fundraising.

By planning ahead, thinking multichannel, and preparing your nonprofit fundraising communications, you'll be ready for the year-end giving season.

1. Plan Your Year-End Messaging

illustration of a calendar with 9 icons on some of the daysAssemble your team to plan your year-end giving campaigns. Spend time with your team thinking about how to frame your current work and how to sharpen your fundraising requests.

Remember:

  • The year-end giving season is a unique time to reframe your organization's mission and message so that it fits current events and the news cycle.
  • Your fundraising appeals must be anchored in the real world in which people solve problems and change things for the better. Make sure that type of messaging is front and center.
  • Think about the different types of audiences that your organization interacts with and what each will be interested in hearing about from you.
  • Consider how to effectively use social proof. Include real-world examples, quotes from real people, photos, and data-driven results as a means to tell your story.

2. Find Spokespeople and Get a Match

Identify community celebrities who will be your year-end campaign spokespeople. These can be staff, board members, community heroes, and other inspiring people.

Also, get a matching donation you can use for a fundraising challenge. Nothing inspires people to give quite like a match.

3. Use Video to Tell Your Story

As your messaging and themes start to take shape, begin work on a year-end video. You can promote the final product in emails and on social media and also embed it on your website and your donation page.

4. Think Multichannel

Year-end charitable giving appeals succeed when they are multichannel — when you're able to reach out and connect through postal mail, real-world events, email messaging, and social media. Find opportunities in your organization to coordinate messaging during the year-end. For example, if you're using a challenge match, how might you promote it in multiple channels so that it gets more attention?

5. Freshen Up Your Website

Your website will get a burst of visitor activity from people who are hearing about you. Freshen up your website with new content that aligns with your year-end messaging and supports year-end online giving. This content might include new blog posts, a new featured article on your home page, a lightbox that pops up, or a fresh, new donation page with an inspiring photo and headline.

6. Go Mobile with Email

Email has become increasingly important at year-end because of the precise way we can schedule delivery and control the visual and click-through experience. This year, email will be read on more mobile devices than ever before, so you should

  • Be sure your email messages look great on mobile, which also goes for your donation page.
  • Start your email design thinking with mobile first. Most of your donors won't give on mobile, but most will have their first impression there.
  • Consider that video looks great on mobile devices and think how you might integrate it into your messaging mix this year.

7. Make It Social

Donors look to others to decide where and when to give. Social media is the perfect platform to push out year-end messaging that is centered around real-world examples, quotes from real people, and lots of photos. Tell your story at year-end on all your social channels and encourage social sharing whenever possible.

Think of the most creative ways you might use social media to promote year-end giving. Recruit a social media brigade of volunteers to create engaging content. Set up a tracking system so you can measure the impact on your fundraising that originates in the social channel.

Also, make sure that social sharing opportunities are integrated throughout the giving process on both the donation thank-you web page and the email receipt.

8. Promote Monthly Giving

Consider all the ways you can promote monthly giving during year-end. While monthly giving will reduce revenue in the short term, monthly donors will stay on your list longer and will have higher lifetime value as donors.

9. Measure Everything You Can

Take the time to refresh your data dashboard at year-end so you can track all your fundraising activity. Pay specific attention to multichannel tracking, which often reveals emerging trends among your donors.

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Additional Resources for Year-End Fundraising Tips