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15 Year-End Appeal Ideas for Nonprofits

Find out how to make your year-end campaign successful enough to break through the holiday noise with these 15 year end appeal ideas.

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Often lost in the glimmer and shine of the holidays, year-end appeals are still an important part of any nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. A successful year-end appeal can go on to set the tone for a bountiful year of giving ahead.

So, before the year (heck, the decade!) wraps up, check out these last-minute fundraising tips to ensure this year-end appeal is your best one yet.

15 Tips For A Successful Year-End Appeal

1. Begin With Last Year’s Goal

The first step in any appeal involves goal setting. How much do you want or need to raise in order to consider this drive a success? When it comes to setting your year-end goal, you can do one of two things.

First, you could use your goal for last year’s appeal as a jumping-off point. Doing this gives you a great tagline for your messaging: “last year we raised X before year-end. This year we want to double our impact to raise Y.”

Second, you could use your entire fundraising goal for the year to steer your campaign. For example, if your development team budgeted to raise half a million dollars by year-end and you’re 10,000 dollars away, you can use that figure as your goal.

2. Use Outcomes From The Year In Sum

The benefit of a year-end appeal is that you have nearly 330 days of progress to show for yourself. In order to make your campaign sound more human and appealing, you’ll want to pull from this year’s outcomes to point to the need for a year-end donation. It’s a great way to both . reflect on what your organization has done, and what it’s capable of going into the new year.

Additionally, anecdotal approaches to donor appeals almost always outperform strictly nominal asks. By turning dollar figures into outcomes you give a more compelling, emotional reason to give when the true season of “giving” has ended.

3. Have A Specific Ask In Mind For Donors

At this point during the year donor fatigue from the holidays has set in. To leave it up to folks to “donate what they feel is right” will most likely result in coming in below your goal. Take the guesswork out of philanthropy for your supporters! Break down your goal to them and share what you need to make it possible.

Year-end appeals almost always have a specific dollar figure to point to. Capitalize on that to create donor tiers that are realistic and generous.

Photo Credit: GiveGab

4. Harness The Holidays

Since we’ve played one side of the holiday-fatigue coin, it’s time to shine some light on the other end. The end of the year also ushers in thoughts of new year resolutions. As January draws closer people around the world make plans to be a better, fitter, more altruistic being.

Alongside losing weight and quitting bad habits, one of the most common resolutions is to donate more to charity or get involved with philanthropy. Be sure to feed into that enthusiasm by encouraging people to get a jump on their resolution early.

5. Pay Special Attention to High-Value Donors

Year-end appeal best practice generally calls for a unique approach to your asks of the top 1-5% of your donors. Think of them as your donor VIPs. You’ll want to ensure they get a special ask, direct from someone on the c-suite. Ensure that their contributions don’t go unnoticed and include a little extra thanks!

6. Start Planning Early

You don’t want to wait until December to start planning your year-end appeal. In fact, approximately 52% of nonprofits start planning their year-end ask in early October. You’ll want to leave plenty of time to gather your stats, segment your donors, audit your pledges, and get your other donor-ducks in a row!

7. Consider a Gift Match

A popular donor relations tool is the use of positive urgency. An excellent example of this is a corporate donor match. Aside from your compelling storytelling, a great way to encourage donations is to provide a corporate match. It helps each donor feel like their impact is doubled if they donate now, ergo an explosive incentive!

Photo Credit: Double The Donation

8. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is similar to crowdsourcing in the sense that it harnesses the power of the collective. This fundraising strategy in particular encourages donors to raise money on behalf of a nonprofit through their own networks.

In order to make your campaign peer-to-peer friendly you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of deliverables including branded social media posts, email and text templates, and brand-friendly graphics. You can learn more about P2P texting here.

9. Utilize Mobile Alerts

Text marketing and nonprofits go together like wool socks and Vermont. A perfect cozy match! You can drum up enthusiasm for your upcoming campaign with text alerts to supporters sharing things like quick facts about your nonprofit and other impact statements. And with 95% of texts being read within 3 minutes, your chances of being noticed are high!

Today 10:00 AM
Did you know the daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.8 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions?

10. Thank Donors & Prepare Them For Next Year

An ongoing theme of every year-end giving campaign should be “thanks”. While your emphasis is on donations, it should equally pay attention to everything your donors have done over the last year. Donor retention is valuable, and one of the key ingredients in achieving it is expressing gratitude!

11. Update Your Website Seasonally

On the flip side, your end of year campaign can also be a great time to capture unique donors looking to get involved with a new cause. Make sure images from your year-end campaign are prominently featured on your home page as well as links to timely blog posts surrounding your campaign goals.

12. Reengage Dormant Donors

A year-end campaign signals the beginning of a new chapter. An excellent opportunity to reach out to donors you’ve fallen out of contact with and try to reengage them with your mission. Share how you’ve grown as an organization over the last year as well as where you’re headed in the new year.

Photo Credit: Hubspot

13. Announce Your Campaign Before The Rush

As we’ve touched on, there’s a lot of noise in inboxes around the world come holiday season. It’s important to reach out to your donors early if you want their attention. Don’t let your messages fall into the post-Christmas sale jumble. Start priming your audience early!

14. Pull Past Examples

Nothing inspires confidence in a campaign more than past success. A great way to bolster your outcomes is to show donors what you’ve done in the past. Concrete examples of projects funded or expansions enabled due to donations.

15. Evaluate & Improve

As you strive for progress you’ll want to take time to reflect on what you’ve done up to this point. Take your lessons from last year and ensure you bring them into this year-end appeal to make it stronger than ever!

Want to explore more ways to surprise and delight your donors with innovative marketing initiatives? Check out our guide to SMS marketing for nonprofits!

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