Have you heard the news? November and December are the largest donation volume months of the year! Last year, GlobalGiving raised $4.5 million in November and December. Read more here. What is your organization doing to take advantage of this popular giving season?
What do successful organizations do to engage donors during the holidays?
Last year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy polled non-profits during the year-end giving season to better understand successful strategies for donor mobilization during this time. Check out the article here. Here are some key findings from their survey:
- Groups that reported increases in year-end donations attributed them to “creative twists in online appeals and efforts to show their impact more vividly to donors.”
- World Vision said that donations made through their online gift catalog jumped by 10% during the first week of December.
- Charities that worked to improve their storytelling also saw success. Meals on Wheels Association of America sent an appeal from a donor who explains why he volunteers and why he gives (they even used his letterhead!). Some donors who received the letter increased their giving by 10%.
- Meanwhile, small organizations got creative online using gift card and email cards to incentivize donors to give!
What should you do to get ready?
Make a strategy! Fundraising doesn’t just happen. You have to plan for it. Here are some basic tips for creating a holiday fundraising plan:
1) Set goals. Take a look at your holiday fundraising volume from last year. How much did you raise? How much do you need to raise this year? How much would you like to raise this year? How much do you think you can raise online? In checks? Via text-to-give? Give yourself a specific monetary and donor goal. You may even consider sharing your goals with your donors in your messaging.
2) Mobilize through a campaign. You won’t be the only organization fundraising this holiday season. You will be competing with other organizations for donations from your donors. Use a campaign to galvanize support. Looking for ideas? GlobalGiving has great holiday promotions going on this year. Read more here.
3) Create a communications calendar. Determine how you are going to communicate with your donors—email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.—and when. Think strategically about important dates in November and December:
- November 23rd (Black Friday),
- November 26th (Cyber Monday),
- December 8-16 (Hanukkah),
- December 25th (Christmas), and
- December 31st (New Year’s Eve and the last giving day of the year!).
Remember that you want to be present in your donors’ minds as they’re making giving decisions throughout the holiday season! Check out this graph of year-end donation activityon GlobalGiving in 2011. You can see that there’s a huge spike in donations during the last 3 days of the year. Make sure to send out one final annual appeal in those last few days of the year.
4) Develop your messaging. What are you going to say to stand out this holiday season? What photos are you going to show to introduce your donors to the people that they’re helping? What stories are you going to tell to help your donors understand the impact of your organization’s work?
Remember to keep your emails, project reports, and Facebook posts short and sweet. Make your messages about your beneficiaries—what they need and how your donors can help—not about you and your organization. Include a clear call to action and a link to your project page in each of your messages.
5) Evaluate your progress and prepare to be flexible. Why do you set goals? So that you can set benchmarks and evaluate your success. Set some time aside each week during the holiday season to evaluate your fundraising progress. Determine if you’re on track towards meeting your goals and, if not, what you need to do to meet your fundraising goals. Be prepared to be creative and to make last minute changes to your plan.
Want help developing your holiday fundraising strategy?
Join us on Tuesday, October 30th for our Holiday Fundraising Training or sign up for a one-on-one call with GlobalGiving to help plan your holiday fundraising strategy.