Top Tips to Smash Your Calendar Year-End Fundraising Totals!

Date Published
Brett Jones

There is no doubt that charitable giving increases at calendar year-end. Some people might make charitable gifts as part of their annual tax-planning strategy. Some may give simply because it’s the season of giving. Others may give because they do so all year long, so, why not at year-end?

Regardless of the motivation, one thing is certain: to make the most of year-end opportunities for your organization you need a well-thought-out plan. Here are some tips to make this your best year-end ever!

1. Sometimes more is better

Consider adding communications to your year-end schedule. Don’t let your personal biases and preferences drive your decisions. Let the numbers decide what makes sense in determining where the opportunities exist within your program. If your direct mail follow-up is doing well, consider whether it makes sense to try another follow-up. If revenue to your year-end email series has increased exponentially year over year, consider adding deployments to the series. Something as simple as resending an email to the un-opens might raise your totals.

Unfortunately, not everyone reads and responds to every communication we send. And that’s true for even the most successful appeal. Sending multiple, varied communications in a year-end series will increase the likelihood that something will strike a chord.

You also want to be in the channels where your donors are which these days means you need a multi-channel strategy. Don’t stop at email. Year-end can be a great time to introduce other more advanced digital channels and tactics.

2. Plan ahead

It’s never too early to start planning your year-end campaign! Start by asking yourself, what will the overriding theme of your calendar-year-end campaign be? How will you develop this message throughout the series of communications? What timing makes sense for the communications?

Be sure to include all the departments responsible for communicating with your constituents in the conversation. There may be a difference within your organization for who executes communications, depending on if it’s an e-newsletter, renewal, or annual fund appeal. However, all your donors know is that they’re hearing from your organization. There is a lot of competition out there among different nonprofits. You don’t want to also compete with yourself for your constituents’ attention!

3. Remember donor stewardship throughout the year

There is no doubt that calendar year-end is a critical time when it comes to fundraising. However, be careful not to get so caught up in the numbers that you forget the caring people who make it all possible. Think about stewarding and thanking your supporters, not just at year-end, but 365 days of the year.

Acknowledgements should include a sincere and heartfelt thank you, convey the impact of the gift, and be timely.

Before you get to your year-end fundraising push, think about how you have communicated with your supporters throughout the year in regard to what’s going on in your organization and how their support is transforming your mission.

Let’s face it, most people in the nonprofit world wear many hats and have substantial demands on their time. The time you invest in thinking through your year-end strategy will most definitely be worth the effort.

About the Author:
Brett Jones
Vice President of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

I lead the Agency Services Client Management team. I challenge the team to continually improve our strategy, creative and service, and develop new ideas, so we can provide better solutions and outcomes to our clients.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love fundraising! In my career I have had the chance to work with many different organizations that are doing incredible work and really making a difference. I enjoy helping them meet and exceed their goals so they can advance their missions. 

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

I have always wanted to work with non-profits and love fundraising. It’s my way of contributing to the greater good. I can’t imagine what else I would do!

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I love reading, ice skating, and going to the beach in the summer, but most of I love spending time with my daughter.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Brett is my middle name. I’m actually Sara Brett. But don’t call me Sara if you want me to answer!

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. I was so proud of myself. I was so excited to visit my neighborhood friends by myself.

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