8 Fundraising Strategies to Improve End-of-Year Giving

end-of-year giving strategiesA robust and well-thought-out end-of-year giving campaign is crucial for any nonprofit fundraising strategy. The year-end giving season can help you reach your nonprofit fundraising goals. Start planning today for a successful year-end fundraising campaign.

CEOs or board members often ask fundraisers if direct mail is still necessary. It is costly with the price of printing and postage, “couldn’t we just send an email?” they ask.

The simple answer is no. Direct mail is still king! Think of it like a hot dog. The direct mail appeal is the hotdog and bun, and the email campaign, online donation page, and social media posts are the delicious toppings like mustard and relish. You can have the hotdog alone, but no one wants just a bowl of relish.

The hot dog and your campaign are best when all the elements are included.

The direct mail appeal points donors online with a link or a QR code to customized donation pages, but no year-end campaign is complete without a solid direct mail fundraising letter.

We gathered our top 8 fundraising strategies to improve end-of-year giving. Use these recommendations to enhance year-end donations today.


Addressing the Email vs. Direct Mail Question

Donors who receive emails from a nonprofit organization throughout the year are 3x more likely to renew their gift. The email should be personal, heartfelt, and come from a real person.

We are sorry to inform you that those attractive, overly-designed mass emails from Constant Contact® just don’t cut it.

These emails shouldn’t feel like mass marketing. They should look and feel like they came from a real person. This is not the time for photos or fancy formatting and design.

Use mail merge into Outlook® or automation, like AutomateGenius, to send donors personalized emails directly from a team member’s email. An 8:1 nourishment ratio can improve donor relationships and help ensure end-of-year giving. Try a plan to send 34 emails throughout the year, with just four being asks for donations.

Remember, gratitude is important; not every communication should have a call to action. When writing four yearly emails asking donors to act, ensure the links lead them to a personalized donation page. You can customize donation pages for a variety of donors.


A sample timeline for end-of-year fundraising efforts

October/early November

  • October-November shower donors with attention
  • Create your audience and donor segments
  • Draft your year-end letter (talk with your print house; in some areas, you may need files to the printer sooner than October)
  • Prepare your data file & set up personalized ask strings
  • Update donation forms
  • Establish campaign goals

November 10

  • Year-end appeal Letters arrive in homes
  • Send companion emails

Throughout November

  • Add an email signature block that calls attention to year-end giving
  • Send additional heartfelt emails

Giving Tuesday

  • Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States; create a plan for this special giving day
  • Build up to this date with social media posts and email reminders

December 5

  • If you have budgeted for a second direct-mail appeal reminder, this is the time it should be hitting mailboxes to get ahead of those last-minute donations

December 20

  • This is an excellent time for a thank you campaign, such as using ringless voicemail to thank donors for previous giving

December 20-year end

  • These last days of the year are essential to use email and social media to support your direct mail appeal efforts. This can also be a time when you encourage peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • A sample plan might include a December 26 email and social media post, a December 27 email, a December 28 social media post, and a December 30 email and social celebration for what has been raised to date

Once the end-of-year giving timeline and essential elements are in place, it is time to up your game with these eight strategies.

Strategy 1

Promote qualified charitable distributions (QCD) to a specific segment of donors. Those donors who are 70 ½ years old can donate directly from their IRA, and those 72 years of age are required to take required minimum distributions. Help donors understand the tax incentive of giving through this method.

Strategy 2

Focus on renewing existing donors. Many boards may discuss the importance of acquiring new donors, but new donors often see a meager response rate.

The renewal rate may be between 40-70%, so it is much more cost-effective to focus on LYBUNT donors. LYBUNT donors are those who gave last year, but unfortunately not this year…yet.

Draft an email communication specifically to LYBUNT donors and let them know you appreciate and miss them.

Strategy 3

Ask each donor for the perfect amount. It is outdated to ask every donor for the same $100 donation. Apps like AskGenius use an algorithm to set the perfect donation amounts for every donor by considering previous giving.

Strategy 4

Update your email signature block with a special year-end message about your giving campaign. Consider something like, “Make a difference and save on taxes with a gift today” or “273 people have already given.” These messages can spark donors’ attention to make that special gift and be part of something special.

Strategy 5

In mid-December, email donors to let them know you appreciate them and provide helpful information, such as your nonprofit’s holiday office hours. Let them know online giving will be available right up until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Strategy 6

Strategy 6 flips the script a bit; this recommendation is a what not to do. Don’t send a postcard. Many organizations question the cost-effectiveness of postcards, but the response results do not add up.

Fundraising communication differs from marketing because it requires personalization and heartfelt messaging, and a postcard does not meet these criteria.

Strategy 7

This is also the time of year to follow up on outstanding pledges. This is an opportunity to communicate with donors.

Let them know you realize life changes, and if they cannot complete a pledge, that is okay. It is more important to salvage the donor relationship.

The donor may need to make additional arrangements for fulfilling the pledge. Always thank the donor for their previous generosity.

Strategy 8

Lastly, consider ringless voicemail. While ringless voicemail is not suitable for asking for donations, it can be a fun way to thank donors. Use this communication tool to thank donors and wish them happy holidays. Always check FCC guidelines and any state regulations before you use this method.

The end-of-year giving season may feel overwhelming to fundraisers. By planning ahead and using available tools and automation, your team will celebrate a successful campaign in the new year.

Donors will feel appreciated and a stronger connection to your nonprofit through all the personalized communication they receive. Board members will be delighted by the donor response and surpassed fundraising goals.

And your team will have fewer headaches in future years thanks to the strategies you put in place.

For more insights, check out the recent Everything You Need to Know About Year-End Giving – AskGenius webinar. If your team wants to impress donors with personalized ask amounts, request an AskGenius demo. AskGenius can help your team set the right ask amount for every donor, every time.

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