End of Year Giving: Closing the year out right for your nonprofit

End of Year Giving: Closing the year out right for your nonprofit

End of year giving is an essential piece of any nonprofit’s annual fundraising and financial goals. For some nonprofits, up to 31% of their annual online gifts are received in December, according to a report by M+R Benchmarks.

Year-end giving campaigns are also an opportunity to attract new donors and remind existing ones of the impact of their donations.

In this article, we cover how to plan your end of year giving campaign, how to apply insights from the year’s previous fundraising efforts, and the importance of giving thanks.

Planning your year-end giving campaign

Planning your year-end fundraising campaign is like any other fundraising push, with the added benefit of insights of the year’s previous fundraising campaigns.

You don’t have to start from scratch! You can leverage past successful campaigns and refresh their content to get those last-minute donations.

When looking to remix past campaigns—such as the one you made for Giving Tuesday—for the holiday season's year-end campaign you want to:

  • Review past materials and identify what’s still relevant to your new campaign for year-end donations
  • Identify key messages and themes that can be carried over and incorporated in the new campaign’s messaging and materials
  • Reuse branding and design elements, which can help keep costs down and maintain a consistent brand image across campaigns
  • Leverage campaign success stories and share them to illustrate your results to help you get those year-end gifts
  • Share customer success stories and testimonials as social proof

You can also use our Giving Tuesday Playbook and the following framework as a jumping off point for a successful year-end campaign.

A fundraising framework for your nonprofit’s end of year campaign

  1. To start building your fundraising strategy identify the specific needs of your nonprofit and the individuals and groups you’re targeting with your giving campaign (think donor segments)
  2. Set clear and specific campaign goals (think SMART goals)
  3. Develop a compelling campaign message and creative materials that highlight the impact of your work. Don't forget to incorporate storytelling and emotional appeals to inspire your donors to give.
  4. Identify potential donors and create targeted plans that use a combination of online and offline channels (e.g., email, social media, direct mail appeals, personal phone calls, events, etc.)
  5. Be sure you offer a variety of giving options, such as recurring giving, one-time donations, text-to-give, etc.
  6. Create a sense of urgency and momentum by setting deadlines and offering incentives (e.g., matching donations, special gifts, recognition) for early or increased giving.
  7. Engage your donor base and volunteers to help spread the word and encourage others to give
  8. Track progress and adjust the campaign strategy as needed to ensure that your year-end giving goals are met
  9. Thank and recognize current donors for their support, and communicate the impact of their gifts on the organization's work, regardless of donation amount

Bonus resources for your fundraising campaigns

Learning from the previous year fundraising campaigns

The insights you can glean from reflecting on past fundraising efforts and marketing campaigns provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen donor relationships and discover means to enhance the overall campaign experience for your existing and potential donors.

  • Identify what worked and what didn't. Analyze the data from previous campaign's donation appeals and identify what strategies and tactics were successful. Use these insights to refine your donation process and focus on what's most effective.
  • Understand donor preferences and behavior. The results of your previous fundraising efforts provide valuable information about your donor’s behavior and preferences. See what type of messaging resonated with each segment of donors. Study things such as the average donation size and the ideal send times for marketing materials. Learn what channels they prefer and what incentives are most likely to inspire action.
  • Develop more targeted and personalized messaging. Once you’ve developed an understanding of what worked and what didn’t and your donor’s preferences, put that data to work! Craft more targeted and personalized messaging. Look for ways to create magical moments for your donors that increase donor retention and decrease churn.
  • Discover strong stories that can be used to illustrate your nonprofit’s impact

This all can be put to use when you set your fundraising goals for your nonprofit’s end of year giving campaign.

Don’t forget to say thank you

It’s important for nonprofits to thank their donors because it fosters a sense of appreciation and connection with your organization. This improves donor engagement and loyalty, which leads to increase in donor retention.

One study that was covered in an article published by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine found that “[s]ending participants a simple email thanking them for their pledge cut in half the number of participants who later backed out of their pledge.”

Some ways to say thank you to your donors (and board members, staff, and volunteers) include:

  • Personalized thank you letters and cards
  • Social media shout outs
  • Donor appreciation events
  • Holiday gifts
  • Specially acknowledge donors past actions and contributions.
  • Small gifts like branded t-shirts, stickers, or mugs
  • Behind-the-scenes looks at how your organization works
  • Personalized letters from the board of directors

The more specific the better. Is there one major donor who's been a huge asset the past year? Is there a long-time volunteer who's been doing amazing work? Are there corporate sponsorships that helped to unlock greater gift amounts? Every organization has people worthy of thanks.

Sharing what you’ve done and what you have to come

Finally, the year-end giving season is a great time to talk about what you have coming up for the holiday season and the year ahead. Do you have an upcoming gala? Do you have a powerful new tool you're rolling out in the new year, such as a great new online donation form or text-to-give tools? Do you have the results from a massive campaign that you want to share? You can incorporate this in your announcements and social posts throughout the year-end giving season.

But no matter what you settle on, the year-end season is the perfect time to reflect on your past year and plan for the year to come. Whether you're looking to find capacity in your donor database, or double checking that you're tracking the right KPIs, i