A stellar fundraising letter is critical to non-profit fundraising success during the end-of-year giving campaign…and your team nailed it! Donors responded in a big way, but now it’s the first quarter of the new year and you’re wondering what to do next. While you realize that donor-centric communications are important throughout the year, your team isn’t sure where to start.
The best end-of-year fundraising campaigns don’t end once the fundraising letter is out the door. Donor stewardship should always be included as part of your end-of-year fundraising plan. Donors to nonprofit organizations don’t want their giving to feel transactional, but rather they want to feel the impact they have made. The most successful fundraisers know that they must ensure donors feel the emotion, like the hero of the story, and understand what their gifts made possible. Use these five strategies to ensure donors continue to feel connected to your non-profit long after their end-of-year donation is received.
1. Send a timely and personalized donor acknowledgment letter
Thanking donors is crucial to donor retention and this should go beyond the tax receipt. Send a personalized and heartfelt donor acknowledgment letter as soon as possible. Per IRS regulations, a tax receipt is required for gifts of $250 or more, but every donor should be thanked. Don’t forget to include those donors who gave in-kind gifts or volunteered their time. The gift of time can feel especially personal to donors during the holidays.
2. Tap into emotion
The best end-of-year fundraising campaigns tap into the donors’ emotion for giving. It is critical that nonprofits move away from making donations feel transactional and move toward making the donor feel the impact of what they made possible. Like your fundraising letter, communication following the donation needs to be heartfelt. Remember the donor should feel like the hero in the story. Remind the donor what inspired them to give toward your mission in the first place. This begins with the donor acknowledgment letter but shouldn’t end there. Every non-profit is sending tax receipts, so what can your non-profit do to stand out?
Consider creating a donor-centric communications plan based on donor segmentation. For example, a first-time donor might receive a series of welcome e-mails and a major donor might receive an invite for coffee or a tour of your campus. Experiential opportunities can also tap into the emotion of the donor; consider inviting donors to volunteer at your church during a food collection drive or during a resident activity at your long-term care facility. Seeing in action what their donations made possible can help a donor better understand their impact and aid in donor retention.
3. Use your board of directors to help with donor-centric communications
A phone call from a board member can mean a lot to a donor, particularly those who have made a recurring or major gift to your organization. While a call from staff is nice as well, a call from a volunteer can really have an impact, because the donor knows they are a volunteer. Provide board members with names and phone numbers of donors to call and a short script of what they should say to ensure the donor knows what their gift made possible and how appreciated they are. While direct mail is still king for raising funds during the end-of-year campaign, a phone call from a board member can help your non-profit stand out among all the noise of letters, emails, and social media posts that all non-profits are putting out.
4. Use data from your end-of-year campaign to elevate future efforts
When your end-of-year giving campaign is wrapping up don’t let these data insights go to waste. The data you collected can be used for future donor segmentation and creating personalized ask strings for future appeals. Consider a tool such as AskGenius to filter this giving data for you. There is science behind setting the right ask amount for every donor and AskGenius has figured out an algorithm for this, so you don’t have to.
5. Consider how automation can save time in donor communications
Consider using an automation tool for things like sending a welcome series of e-mails to first-time donors or sending birthday wishes to recurring donors. Identify key communication points throughout the year and use automation to lessen the time involved for staff. Have your team identify what communication would be most meaningful to each donor segmentation and create actions throughout the year as part of your donor-centric communications.
Donor-centric communications can help your non-profit stand out in the busy landscape of fundraising. Donors want to feel like they are part of something special and are truly the hero of the story. Heartfelt and timely donor acknowledgment letters, along with personalized opportunities to view your mission in action will ensure donors want to give again. Technology and automation can help streamline donor communications throughout the year. Take these steps now to set your non-profit up for future success.
The best end-of-year fundraising campaigns start planning months in advance. If you want to get a jumpstart on planning your end-of-year campaign strategy check out this blog for information. And if the science and tools behind personalized ask strings sounds interesting, contact us for an AskGenius demo today.