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11 Awesome Tips To Actually Get Year-End Donations For Your Nonprofit

December 5, 2017

It’s hard to believe December has officially arrived! While we’re busy working away on digital marketing initiatives throughout the year, we’re always eagerly anticipating the hectic yet exciting time of year. When the giving season is upon us, our work culminates in long-awaited year-end fundraising campaigns for our nonprofit clients.

Here at hjc, we’ve put together 11 top tips to keep in mind for your year-end fundraising initiatives. These tips will ensure your digital engagements go as smoothly as they can in this ever-changing digital landscape and will help you meet your fundraising goal.

1. Be strategic during the three final days.

In 2016, 21.8% of Online giving happened in the month of December, and 11% of giving occurred in the final three days of the month. This proves that your organization should have an increased presence throughout the final month of the year, with specific appeals going out in the final three days of December. These final appeals should leverage the year coming to a close to create a sense of urgency. Don’t be afraid to call out the benefit of getting a final tax receipt in before the end of the year as a benefit to giving.

2. Be Online.
The Online marketplace is a great place to increase your overall presence. Not only are online channels more agile, making it easier to shift your strategy on the go, online is where more donors are turning to make their gifts year over year. In 2016, Canadian non-profits saw a 1.8% decrease in overall giving, while online giving increased 10%. So, if your overall year-end communications are low in December, turn to your digital channels – email, organic social (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), Display Search ads, and Paid Social to quickly give it the boost it needs to your audiences.

If you’ve allocated your year-end budget for paid digital media, don’t neglect the opportunity of organic content to drive donations. Schedule your Tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts to ensure that you’re not silent over the break – keeping in mind that although the office may be closed, your donors/supporters are all likely to be cruising social media during their time off. The ease of following an organic in-post donation form url presents an opportunity to leverage the “giving mood” of the holiday season with the tap of a finger, without sacrificing paid budget.

3. Talk about people.

The holiday season tends to make people feel more generous and giving, so make sure your communications are story driven.

Donors will be bombarded with a flurry of year-end asks from non-profit and for-profit organizations alike, so it’s important to focus your communications around an emotional appeal to hook them with stories about the powerful work/change/impact their donation will help make possible. Feature success stories, patient testimonials, ambassador statements, etc and drive empathy with their imagination.

4. Make sure your donation form is mobile friendly!
Since mobile is quickly becoming the most-used device online, your organization has to make sure their donation forms are optimized for mobile use. In 2016, 17% of online gifts were made using a mobile device.

The likelihood of donors using social media on a mobile platform is much higher than those who access these sites on a desktop, and because of this, the donation experience has to be seamless from initial post right through to the ‘thank you’ page of your donation form.

5. Showcase strong and powerful imagery.
Find impactful imagery that grabs your audience’s attention. The imagery should tie in with your content and invoke some kind of emotion. If you don’t have quality imagery at your disposal, try using a site like Pexel or Unsplash that provide hundreds of free stock images – they won’t hurt your budget and don’t have that typical stock image feel. You may have to do some digging but it will be worth it!


6. Hit your target.
The more targeted your marketing efforts, the better the results. Segment your audiences and separate your donor list into ‘current donors’, ‘lapsed donors’ and ‘first time donors’. ‘Lapsed donors’ and ‘first time donors’ will need extra care to create a relationship that leads to recurring donations, so ensure you allocate your budget and time appropriately.

You can also consider contacting new segments. Do you ever contact past tribute donors? How about event donors or P2P participants who haven’t participated in a few years? Now is the time to look at your data and consider making the ask to the widest audience possible. (Tip: for sensitivity, don’t contact memorial donors from the last 6 – 12 months).

On top of being able to target your own lists of warm users with a ‘Custom Audience Match’, Google Adwords, Twitter, Facebook (and by proxy Instagram) allow you to build off of these custom matches by making ‘lookalike’ lists which enables you to reach people that are similar to your lists, which can create many new avenues to success.

7. Track it.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Ensure that you have accurate tracking in place across your marketing channels to enable data-informed decision making throughout the course of your campaign. If you aren’t measuring your performance, not only will you be unable to make informed adjustments on the fly, you won’t have key performance insights to make an action plan for next year’s marketing efforts.


8. Double your impact.
A matched gift is a great way to really communicate to donors that their efforts will make a real difference and will make donating look even more appealing. Join up with a local business or a big donor and establish a story between who is matching the gift and who the donations will benefit.


9. Buffer the “ask” with a “thank”.
A couple of days before the holidays, send out a holiday e-card with a festive greeting and a genuine message of thanks to your donors. Don’t include an ask in this message but make sure the same segment also receives a request for support later in the month.


10. Consider others days to leverage.
It has almost become a new tradition to open your email on Boxing Day morning to see what great shopping deals await in your inbox. Make sure you squeeze a charitable message in, gently reminding them that this is the season for “giving back”.

This tip might seem obvious but use New Year’s Eve as your final point of contact. Send out your final email on December 31st around 5 or 6 PM before everyone starts popping those champagne bottles. Keep your message straight-forward and to the point – “it’s your last time to give and receive a tax receipt for 2017. Give now”.

11. Keep talking!

Don’t ignore your donors in the New Year! Send a nice email to everyone who donated to your campaign during the holidays, thanking them for their support and make sure to include a few key impact statements.

Keep these tips in mind and you are sure to see significant improvements in your fundraising efforts this holiday season. Good luck and happy holidays from hjc!

About the Author

As Account Executive in the hjc Marketing and Fundraising team, Karine oversees accounts, and manages digital marketing campaigns. Her area of expertise lies within curating social media messaging, such as establishing creative action plans, building Adwords strategies, copywriting and reporting & analytics. Karine also specialises in relationship building and really, really dislikes cilantro.