Tips for Optimizing Your Year-End Fundraising

Date Published
Bill Blinstrub

If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance that you’re deep into your calendar-year-end fundraising planning. But if you haven’t started your planning yet, don’t worry! There is still time to plan a great campaign. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while planning your organization’s calendar-year-end fundraising campaign.

  1. Remember that Calendar Year-End refers to a period of time, not just one daySure, the year ends on December 31, but when we talk about “year-end fundraising” we are generally referring to the entire period of time from Thanksgiving to December 31.

    A comprehensive year-end fundraising strategy can start with a cultivation email on (or even before) Thanksgiving, followed by several emails on Giving Tuesday. The weeks between Giving Tuesday and the holidays we often refer to as “Holiday Giving,” when we can make additional email appeals focused on specific organizational needs. After the holidays, you have several days before the year actually ends. Use those days to reach out to your donors and create a sense of urgency by playing up your organization’s need to close out the year strong! For example, send a “Happy Holidays” cultivation email on December 25, then follow it up with a short email on the 29th that talks about the end of the year coming, and a “last chance” to donate in 2019 and receive a tax deduction. Send follow-up emails with the same message on the 30th and 31st to create a real sense of urgency.

  2. Keep it simple. Include only one theme/message in each email! Your organization may have several great programs that donors can support, but for year-end fundraising emails, keep the messaging short and focused: “Help us close out the year strong, DONATE to our year-end campaign today, before December 31st.” “This is your LAST CHANCE to DONATE in 2019 and receive a tax deduction!” Throughout the year-end series, emphasize different elements of the same message while increasing urgency as you get closer to December 31.

    There is a lot of competition for donor dollars during year-end, and a simple, clear, and concise message will help your organization stand out.

  3. Keep the “donor journey” in mind! When executing your calendar-year-end campaign, be sure the story you are telling makes sense from the donor’s perspective. Each touch should advance your organization’s case for giving, and help build and solidify that crucial relationship with the donor. Doing the little things, like building custom donation pages for each touch, will help optimize your conversion rate.
  4. Close Strong! As the December 31 deadline approaches, send multiple emails! Why send multiple fundraising emails to a donor on one day? In short, because it works!

    Think about this: your donor is getting emails from every nonprofit he/she supports on this day. Organizations need to make sure they stay at the top of the inbox. Multiple sends can accomplish this objective. Some organizations generate as much as 40 to 60% of the revenue from the first deployment in the second and third. That means you could drive DOUBLE the revenue of that brought in if you had only sent one message. This works because the deadline is real — this is the last day of the year. While multiple sends during a single day are not typically recommended, there are times when this strategy is called for, and the last day of the calendar year is one of them (Giving Tuesday is another).

The above strategy can work for fiscal year-end as well. Simply adjust the dates to work for your fiscal year-end, and make sure that the messaging clearly calls out fiscal year-end. Most donors will understand the concept, even though they very likely do not know your organization’s fiscal calendar.  

Still have questions, or perhaps you want to run a year-end fundraising campaign of your own this year? Call us at 844-858-7654!

About the Author:
Bill Blinstrub
Senior Account Executive, Agency Services

Years in the industry

6 in Fundraising, 20+ in direct mail and marketing

Role at the Company

I develop and execute client strategy, as well as provide results analysis and budget management. I am the key face-to-face client contact, advising on all fundraising activities, best practices, trends, whatever my clients need! If my client needs something, I make it happen!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love the people, and the culture. AFG really creates a positive, proactive environment that empowers me to fully immerse myself in serving my clients. No idea is off limits, new thinking is encouraged, and everyone works together to meet one common goal.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I am an avid- but not fast- runner. I enjoy competing in road races whenever possible. Its a great way to experience a new city/place, and I love running “unplugged”, no headphones. I love to hear the sounds of nature around me. Running really allows me to connect with a place and its people.

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