How to Use Your Year-End Fundraising Momentum into the New Year

November and December are the biggest months in the fundraising calendar. During these months, donors give more often and in greater amounts.

End of year campaigns are a sure-fire way to capitalize on the generosity of the “season of giving.” But once the holidays are over, nonprofits can struggle to maintain momentum into the new year.

While it’s important to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished this year (you have been resilient these last couple of year… you should definitely celebrate!), your mission remains as important as ever. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal – not take your foot off the gas.

The key to keeping your fundraising momentum into the new year lies in an effective strategy.

We’ve broken it down to 7 steps:

Start and Finish with Your Mission

The key to creating momentum in your fundraising: consistency. That’s why it’s important to start and finish with your mission and create a story that can carry you through to the next year! Consistency gives you a longer window to build momentum and avoid the last-minute push for extra resources during the busy end-of-year time.

You can update your giving site, social media posts, and email templates as you go, but having the same story can help build trust and increase donations for your cause.

Stories are powerful tools. They help us make sense of the noise that surrounds us by putting it into a form that makes sense and moves us. For nonprofits, there’s no better tool to connect with volunteers, clients, and donors.

Why is storytelling so important as you wrap up your year-end campaign and look toward the new year?

  • Nonprofits have to cut through the noise and stand out online.
  • Everyone’s attention is becoming increasingly fragmented.
  • We need a way to connect people and humanize our missions in a virtual world.

Humans weave everything we do, see, and believe into a story. Stories are how we learn. They’re how we make sense of chaos. If your organization identifies and tells good stories, you’ll more quickly hit your goals (and you’ll set yourself apart from your competition, who probably aren’t telling enough good stories.)

Show Appreciation and Impact

Thanking your donors is one of the most important things you can do to help them stay engaged with your mission. If they do not feel that your organization is thankful for them and their support, they won’t continue to show up for you in the future.

It’s important to make your ‘thank you’ immediate and personal. If your organization has the capacity, consider following up the first thank you with gifts or another thoughtful indication of your gratitude, like:

  • A video from your nonprofit’s constituents saying thank you
  • A brochure, pamphlet, or report detailing what your nonprofit is working on
  • A bouquet of flowers or a handwritten letter sent to your supporters’ home

When you continue to engage with your supporter even after you’ve received the gift from them, you emphasize to them that they are an important part of your nonprofit’s community.

After saying ‘thank you’ the next step is to lead into a longer discussion of all that was accomplished. For example, “You helped provide Christmas gifts to 350 children and warmth to over 500 families.”

Keeping supporters in-the-loop with your year-end campaign success and demonstrating the impact of their gift will create the fundraising momentum you need to head into the new year.

Utilize Your Online Presence

Year-end giving is a crowded fundraising arena. You’re sharing your online spotlight with a lot of worthy missions during the holidays! So how do you stand out?

Utilize your online presence through the end of the year and into the next! With the hustle and bustle of the holidays over, you’re better able to stand out online and on social. Let’s not forget – 55% of people who interact with a nonprofit on social media end up taking action, whether it be a monetary gift or volunteering.

Evaluate your online presence by answering the following questions:

  • What social platforms do we have the most following on? Are we using it to its full potential? If not, consider launching a social media campaign focused on connecting and engaging with your donors.
  • What is the conversion rate on your giving page? If it’s low, consider optimizing it so you can easily and more frequently convert visitors to donors
  • Have we created a seamless giving experience? Whether your supporters are visiting your website, social platform, or giving site, are you giving them the same, easy giving experience? If not, see how OneCause can help.

Not quite sure how to tap into the power of online and social media? Check out our eBook on Driving Your Mission with Social Media.

Engaging with your supports online is relatively low-cost and has the potential high reward. Think about pushing your mission forward with an online-only campaign. It requires little to no physical planning and can give your team the break it needs to focus on larger initiative coming up in the new year (while still bringing in fundraising dollars to your organization).

Focus on Donor Retention

Acquiring a new donor is more difficult and more expensive than retaining an existing one. If you’re looking to start the year off strong, improving donor retention should be one of your top priorities heading into the new year, no matter your fundraising experience or capacity.

In a perfect world, inspired givers would come back again and again to support your cause, but we know that’s not always what happens. As you head into new year, improve donor retention by learning from lapsed donors.

Your lapsed donors are the supporters who gave once or twice but never maintained their support or are the individuals who used to regularly give but stopped abruptly.

By asking these individuals why they didn’t feel inspired enough to regularly give back, you can learn a lot about what your nonprofit can improve on. Similarly, if you find out what inspired them to show their support in the first place, you can focus on amplifying this aspect of your strategy.

Try these follow-up ideas to learn more from your lapsed donors:

  • Share lapsed donor surveys. The quickest way to get in touch with your lapsed donors is to send out a survey, either via mail or digital channels. Ask them point-blank why they’re no longer giving and what might convince them to give again.
  • Call on past peer-to-peer fundraisers. If your team has lost out on a portion of your peer-to-peer fundraising volunteers, investigate why. Like your regular lapsed donors, send out a questionnaire and see why they’re no longer fundraising on your behalf.
  • Send letters to previous major givers. For those who used to give in large quantities, send out formal letters (or emails) inquiring why you’ve lost their support. Just showing this extra effort might be the deciding factor in converting them back to active givers.

When you have a strong donor retention, your team can start focusing on strengthening other parts of your organization’s strategy instead of worrying about having enough prospects in line to meet your latest campaign’s goals.

Engage Donors in Non-Financial Asks

Your donors have stuck with you through the highs and lows. They’ve given their time and money to your worthy cause. Now what?

Keep the excitement going! Maintaining momentum into the year doesn’t necessarily have to mean launching a fundraising campaign January 1st. It can also mean engaging your donors in non-financial asks. Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  • Volunteer hours
  • Social media awareness
  • Auction items
  • Skills and expertise
  • Expert professional advice

If you’re looking for any or all of the above, the first step is to ask for it. Let your donors know what you’re looking for, why you need it, and how it will benefit them.

When properly planned and sought, non-financial resources can also play a crucial role in the growth and development of a non-profit organization. But even more importantly, they play a key role in continuing your relationship with your donors past the transaction.

Unlock New Insights from Your Data

The last two months of the year are likely your most high-volume months for new donations and new donors. What’s also exciting about new donors? New donor data!

Besides keeping complete records on your supporters, you can take it a step further and collect other information, such as satisfaction and interest surveys, that helps to make data-informed decisions on everything from communication to marketing strategies.

So, what do you do with this data?

  • Look for the naturally occurring groups that emerge such as major gift prospects, volunteers that have never made a monetary donation, and irregular donors.
  • Conduct a communication audit and research the communications to these groups, as well as review how you are communicating overall with your supporters.
  • Develop a strategy for each of these groups. Examples include developing a cultivation cycle for major gift prospects or creating an action plan for reengaging lapsed donors.
  • Make a list of the items that you wish to measure your performance with. These are known as KPIs or key performance indicators. Some KPIs include donor retention rates and conversion rates from prospects to committed donors.

Think about developing an engagement score system that helps you quickly identify how engaged your supporters are and adding that to your list of KPIs. Look for a donor management system with an engagement scoring system built-in to get started even faster.

Celebrate Your Success

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to reflect on your hard work. Making it through the year-end giving season is a huge accomplishment for your team, volunteers, and donors. It’s important to reflect on the milestones you’ve crossed along the way!

  • Host a virtual or in-person luncheon for your donors to make them feel valued.
  • Build excitement around upcoming events and ways to get involved.
  • Post photos, videos, and impact statements on social media about your success.

Don’t forget… these celebrations shouldn’t be limited to what you’ve accomplished with your donors’ support! Remember the hard work and resilience your team has shown this year and be sure to find ways to recognize their successes. This will boost morale and increase retention – two key ingredients for campaign success.