There's a lot riding on your year-end online fundraising efforts, even more so this year when many events and activities have been paused during the coronavirus pandemic. The year-end giving season is always a valuable opportunity to engage with supporters and fans, whether your goal is fundraising or deepening relationships.
There is considerable evidence that charitable giving has been strong this year, in spite of the personal and family hardships that many have encountered. Nonprofits and charities play an important role in the social and emotional fabric of our communities, and your supporters demonstrate that through their generosity.
No doubt your team has begun planning its year-end fundraising campaigns. Here are 10 online fundraising techniques to help you supercharge your year-end efforts.
1. Think Multichannel
Year-end charitable giving appeals succeed when they are multichannel — when you're able to reach out and connect with your supporters through postal mail, real-world events, email messaging, and social media. With the current pause on real-world events, it's even more important to coordinate messaging across the channels that are available to you. These might include newsletters or print publications, postal mail letters or receipts, welcome kits and welcome series, and videos or other online resources.
2. Craft Your Year-End Messaging to Fit Our Time
Think about how to frame your current work and how to sharpen your fundraising messaging to reflect the unique social and political environment that we're in. Many individuals and families have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. It's important that your messaging not be tone deaf to how people are feeling. Share positive stories with your donors, showing them how their donation makes an impact on the community.
If you can, tell stories about how your donors are solving problems and overcoming adversity through their partnership with your organization. Use real-world examples such as quotes from real people, photos, and data-driven results as a means to tell your story.
3. Prepare Your Website
Your website will get a burst of visitor activity from people who are hearing about you. Get your website ready for giving with new content that aligns with your year-end messaging. This might include new blog posts, a new featured article on your home page, and a fresh, new donation page.
Add a pop-up graphic to your homepage and the highest trafficked pages on your website. It's vital to grab the attention of your website visitors during the last few weeks of the year. The pop-up graphic is a perfect tool to get in front of people and convey your year-end fundraising message, especially if you have a match.
4. Go Virtual with Your Year-End Fundraising Events
The pandemic has put a hold on in-person events this year, but there are lots of ways to gather your tribe online to bring people together. Turn your annual fundraising gala into a virtual event with tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Hopin, Gatherly, and Hovercast, to name but a few of the options at your disposal.
Create an engaging and interactive online program with speakers, panels, musical performances, awards, videos, and much more. Get creative and hire someone to do a guided online activity with crafts, cocktails, or cooking. Give your donors a chance to mingle and meet, so you can make your next fundraising gala an event to remember.
5. Go Mobile with Email
Email is an essential tool for year-end fundraising because of the precise way that we can target an audience, schedule delivery, and control the visual and click-through experience. We wrote about things to try with email marketing back in January 2020, and this list of seven strategies is worth considering for the year-end.
This year, email will be read on more mobile devices than ever before, so take care of these things:
- Be sure your email messages look great on mobile, which also goes for your donation pages.
- 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 how you might integrate it into your messaging mix this year.
As always, be aware that email deliverability can impact your fundraising performance. With fewer email messages getting into supporter inboxes these past few years, it reduces revenue for fundraising campaigns. We wrote about ways to improve your email deliverability back in August.
6. Use Video to Make an Impact
Video is a proven way to drive online fundraising results, as reported by Google almost a decade ago. Since then, nonprofits have used video as a central part of their year-end (and year-round) fundraising messaging.
Even though video production can be time-consuming and costly, it's possible to harness the tools if organizations start planning early enough. Short videos (one minute long) can be included as part of your email messages, on your website, and on your social media channels.
I recommend this article to help you create an impactful video marketing strategy for your nonprofit. Spend time up front considering the audience that will view your videos and what type of content will motivate them to give. There are many ways to tell your organization's story with video, including sharing your mission, taking time to explain an issue in detail, inspiring people to take action, and highlighting your nonprofit's impact. Donor testimonials can also play a role in showcasing how a donation makes an impact.
7. During Year-End, Increase Your Messaging on Social Media
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 to tell your story at year-end on all your social channels.
You're probably planning some social media messaging at year-end to promote your fundraising efforts, but you're probably not planning enough. Get creative with ways to promote your year-end campaigns, using tie-in graphics or thermometers and thanking donors publicly. Your creativity and humor will pay off, especially for your followers who are also on your email list.
8. Focus on Monthly Giving and Monthly Donors
Year-end is traditionally the time for one-time gifts, but we know that donors are always in search of flexibility and options. Make sure you make the case for monthly giving, both in your email appeals and on your donation pages. This is one of the fastest-growing segments of online fundraising, so jump on the bandwagon at year-end too.
For your current monthly donors, be sure to acknowledge their year-round support at year-end. You can encourage them to increase their monthly gift by a few dollars or to make a one-time gift for a project you are working on that is close to their heart.
9. Resend to Non-openers and Keep Sending Appeals to People Who Already Donated
So much of year-end fundraising is about persistence. For email appeals, that means resending your email message to people who haven't opened your earlier appeal messages. Yes, there is always a risk of overmessaging, so be sure to show your passion for your cause and your need for their support.
We go to great lengths to avoid sending appeals to people who have already donated to our campaigns. But year-end is a great time to keep including recent donors, especially if you have a dollar-for-dollar match. Include a sentence recognizing and appreciating their gift, and many donors will be motivated to give again or to spread the word via social media with friends.
For help with developing effective email campaigns and other digital marketing activities, check out TechSoup's Digital Marketing Services for Nonprofits.
10. Suggest Ways That Your Donors Can Help
Your donors are some of your valuable marketing partners, so be sure to suggest ways that your donors can help you during the year-end fundraising season, such as these:
- Starting a fundraiser on Facebook to support your cause
- Providing a donor testimonial that you can use on social media
- Posting about your cause on their own social media channels
- Enroll in TechSoup Courses' Intro to Communication for Fundraising.
- See a webinar on How to Capitalize on Year-End Spending to Raise More Money.
- Read how The Right People, Process, and Technology Can Maximize Giving.