December 31st is upon us! And it’s the biggest day of the year for nonprofit fundraising. Maybe your staff is in the single-digits, or maybe you’re operating with a skeleton crew while people are on vacation, but it’s easy to feel like time has gotten away from you. But don’t panic! We’ve got five last-minute fundraising tips you can use right now to end 2017 with a bang instead of a whimper.
Last-Minute Fundraising Tip #1: Personal Outreach
In the digital age, we can spend endless hours focusing on our online fundraising strategy but forget some of the fundraising basics. Like what? Well, like personal touches. Well-placed ads and email strategy can only go so far. But keeping your donors engaged is less about marketing and more about relationship-building. So here’s how you can quickly put together some last-minute year-end outreach.
“Phone banking” is usually something we associate with political campaigns, but it’s effective for nonprofit organizations too. And it’s a surprisingly easy thing to put together quickly! Here’s how to do it:
- Pull a list of your donors. You’re going to be calling, so obviously include their names, phone numbers and any personal notes that will help with outreach.
- Recruit your phone bankers. Ask (or tell) your staff to participate, or enlist volunteers.
- Distribute call lists. Send each phone banker a list of the donors they need to call.
- Provide a script or talking points. Include a script for leaving voicemail messages, and be sure to include any important talking points or statistics about your 2017 accomplishments. This isn’t a hard sell — it’s a conversation. Have them start off by thanking the donor for their support, and end with asking if they’ll make a donation to support you before the end of 2017.
Phone banking is an easy thing for staff and volunteers to do that makes a big difference. There’s a reason why universities have students personally call donors to ask them for donations! It works. That personal contact is meaningful, and inspires people to donate right then and there. It’s something volunteers can easily do from home, with just a few hours of work.
You can make phone banking fun by hosting a “phone bank party.” A staffer at Mightycause once worked for a nonprofit whose executive director invited everyone to her house to call donors. Provide drinks, light refreshments, and encouragement. You can provide a small prize for the phone bankers who get the most donations, or have them ring a bell each time they get a donation on the phone. Make it fun, make it festive, and watch donations roll in.
Steward your big donors
Have the top dogs at your nonprofit (Executive Director, Board Chair, Director of Development, etc.) reach out personally to your major gift donors. Ideally you should meet with these people regularly throughout the year, but if you haven’t reached out before year-end, hop to it! Get them on the phone, send a personal email thanking them for all they do for your organization, find out what’s important to them in the year ahead. And, of course, try to secure their year-end gift.
Last-Minute Fundraising Tip #2: Social Media Blitz
We hope you’ve got your year-end social media scheduled already. But if not, don’t worry! There’s still time. Make sure you have at least one post scheduled for each day this week (and that includes the weekend). You know Coco Chanel’s famous advice to remove one accessory before you leave the house? Well, we’re suggesting the reverse here. Look at your schedule for each day, and add one more post.
Here are some must-haves on social media:
- Mention that donations are tax-deductible. This is important to include in each post!
- Images and videos. These are Facebook algorithm-friendly and will grab people’s attention.
- An “ask.” On social media, if nowhere else in life, people like to be told what to do. So, make sure you ask for donations in your posts. Better yet, ask for a specific amount. (Refer to your Custom Donation Suggestions on Mightycause if you’re not sure!)
- A link. A post a year-end from a nonprofit without a link where people can donate is like a shoe without a foot. Make sure to include a link to your Mightycause page!
If you’re content with your social media schedule, consider adding some ads! Social media advertising is cheap and has powerful targeting tools. A boost of $15 for a Facebook post or a tweet can go a long way. Just a little bit of money can increase your reach by hundreds, and with lots of charities competing for users’ attention, being seen is vital.
Lastly, have people manning your social media … even during the holiday. Make sure you’ve got someone checking in on Facebook, Twitter, and so on to answer any questions and engage in conversations.
Last-Minute Fundraising Tip #3: Email, email, email!
You’ve probably got emails scheduled. But, like social media, take one last look at your schedule. What can you add? And, more importantly, are there any targeted emails you can add? Here’s what we suggest:
- Email last December’s donors. So, if someone made a donation in December 2016, they’re probably open to making a donation again this year. So send them an email thanking them for their help in 2016, and asking if they will help you again in 2017.
- Email volunteers. Volunteers are often also donors, so make sure you acknowledge the huge contribution of their time .., and ask for a monetary donation to help you continue your work in 2018. A thoughtful email with pictures of volunteers at work, or a video, is a great idea! You may also want to send personal emails to highly engaged volunteers.
- Share your goals for 2018. It’s easy to do a retrospective of the year you’ve had an what you’ve accomplished, but let your donors know where you’re headed. Ask for their support in reaching your mission-driven goals.
- Send an email with tax deductions as the star on December 31st. So, it doesn’t seem like tax deductions are a very compelling subject, but for year-end donations? They are. You don’t have to write like an accountant, but a quick email noting the tax benefits of charitable donations right before the deadline is a must. If you don’t already have one planned, schedule it!
Don’t worry about sending too many emails. As long as you’re mixing up the content and doing some targeting, you’ll be fine. December 31st is the biggest day of charitable giving all year in the United States. Don’t be afraid to hit people’s inboxes hard — the big-name charities will be doing it, and it’s part of why they see such incredible response at year-end!
Last-Minute Fundraising Tip #4: Enlist An Army of Ambassadors
So, there are only so many people that your nonprofit can reach out to during year-end. But your staff members, your volunteers, your board … they all have access to people your nonprofit doesn’t. Ask for their help! Send out an email, or have a quick meeting, to ask all of your staff members to post on social media about your year-end campaign. Get your board on a conference call, or make quick calls to each board member, asking them to stump for your nonprofit on social media, email and in person. Have your Volunteer Manager ask volunteers to vouch for your nonprofit with their social network. These groups all have a huge personal investment in your work, and will likely happily ask for donations from the people they know.
Asking for the help of people involved in your nonprofit is a quick way to put more boots on the ground during this critical week. They’re there because they care about your cause. So don’t limit the fundraising efforts to your development staff! Involve everyone.
If you have any corporate sponsors, ask for their help too! They could post on their social media accounts, send out an email, or hang a sign at their business. You might even be surprised to find that your corporate sponsors might have some creative ideas of their own! Retail businesses might even be able to ask patrons to donate an extra dollar or two to your cause when they check out.
Last-Minute Fundraising Tip #5: Post An Update
One super easy way to send people back to your Mightycause page to make a year-end donation is by posting an Update. When you post an Update, it triggers an email to everyone who has donated or engaged with your Mightycause page. The email they receive is designed to get them back on your page, where the Donate button is right there in front of them.
This takes just a few minutes, and can bring back people who’ve shown an interest in supporting your nonprofit in the past.
We hope these last-minute fundraising tips help you get the rest of your week planned out! It’s an important one, so use these as a guide to making sure you’re not missing any opportunities to connect with your donor base. Get creative, think collaboratively, and focus on relationship-building. And, most importantly, keep calm and fundraise on. You’ve got this.