“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” ---said no fundraiser, ever.
The holiday season is a paradox for most fundraising professionals. Yes, holidays are a time of good cheer filled with turkey, mistletoe and quality time with loved ones. The holidays also are a challenging, pressure-filled time for nonprofits to strike while the iron is hot, capitalizing on goodwill towards men to fund services and programs in the coming year.
In 2012, Charity Navigator conducted a poll of national nonprofits and found that “End of Year Giving” (or EOY) accounts for 40 percent of the total annual donation amounts on average. Make your holiday fundraising season merry and bright with a comprehensive EOY fundraising strategy that maximizes potential for donations.
In The Seven Faces of Philanthropy, authors Russ Allan Prince and Karen Mary File introduce 7 archetypal donors and argue that understanding why a donor gives helps fundraisers solicit donations with greater effectiveness. Prince and File’s logic is sound and their donor-centric approach works as a guiding principle for building customized fundraising proposals. The holidays simplify EOY appeals because most donors have the same motivation for giving. The emphasis on why people give becomes a question of how nonprofits can engage the most people to give.
As more aspects of daily life move online, some well-meaning board members and executive directors may be tempted to cut direct mail in order to save a few dollars. However, both for-profit and nonprofit marketing experts advocate for a campaign that includes both direct mail and digital elements. It is essential to meet your donors where they are.
Direct mail allows you to communicate to existing donors, offer an opportunity to continue their support and motivate them to greater levels of giving through giving clubs or donor societies. The donor who appreciates direct mail is a traditionalist who appreciates the effort and intent of a mailed solicitation.
E-marketing, both in email form and via social media, offer the greatest opportunities to bring new donors into the fold and engage younger donors who are more likely to check your Facebook status than their Post Office Boxes.
So, you’ve figured out how your donors wish to be engaged and segmented your campaign to meet them where they are. Now it’s time to make a plan and execute.
Set deadlines for direct mail: impose a deadline for text and any artwork from the mail house, a dead drop date for the mailing list, and hold to them.
Create an editorial calendar: collaborate with your communications director on a comprehensive calendar that includes e-blasts, the organization’s website, and every social media platform. Write content for each platform and pull graphics to punch up solicitations (bonus points if the graphics correspond to your direct mail design work). Schedule as many posts as you can for their future publish dates and schedule reminders to post the things that can’t be pre-loaded.
The reason EOY giving represents a substantial chunk of overall fundraising strategy is simple: people are primed to give during the holiday season. Why? Because doing good feels good. Donors are the heroes of any nonprofit’s story, but the work of the nonprofit is the reason for the season. Remember during the holidays that you are providing each donor with an opportunity to make an impact with a side of good cheer to carry with them into the new year.
Katie Norris, Client Account Manager