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Do you have a Year-End Fundraising Strategy for 2023?


Note: Giving Tuesday can be an important focal point for planning your year-end fundraising campaign.

September is a great month to begin planning your year-end fundraising strategy.

If you have never specifically done a year-end fundraising strategy, I encourage you to try it, if you have the slightest interest.

It is a great way to raise unrestricted funding, and done well, it tends to grow year over year.

If you are a pro and already do this every year, take this opportunity to intentionally refresh your strategy in close collaboration with your resource development team and board.

Only good things will come from it!

I recently attended the Community Boost’s Online Radical Impact Conference.

After listening to development teams from across the U.S. share their experiences with year-end giving as well as the folks at Giving Tuesday (GT) (the organization that tracks GT metrics and has TONS of templates and tips to help you effectively participate), I have some gold to share.

If you’re not familiar with Giving Tuesday, it started years ago as a way to counter the materialism and consumerism cultivated by Black Friday sales before Thanksgiving. The idea is to be generous the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And it has become a movement!

It’s A Cycle, Not A Day

Best practice is to see year end giving not just as a Giving Tuesday request, or a year-end letter, but as an ‘end of year giving cycle’.

Every organization and their donor base is a little different, so I generalize here.

The ‘cycle’ begins ideally in October when nonprofits start telling their story and educating donors about the impact they have had this year, the on-going critical need, what you want to accomplish next year (broadly), and what it will cost.

Getting really clear on the story you are telling and the impact your organization is having is key.

Video and testimonials can be powerful for this.  Consider several emails in October focused on this. Don’t yet ask for a donation. Educate and cultivate!

Early November is a great opportunity to thank your existing donors and prepare for Giving Tuesday.

Note: Some folks are using Giving Tuesday as gratitude Tuesday and to thank their past donors only, and not asking for money.

Some feel if you have a small donor base, it can be hard to break through the ‘noise’ of GT to attract new donors.

I say experiment. If you have not made an explicit ask on Giving Tuesday, try it and see how it goes.

Last year alone, Giving Tuesday contributions grew by 6%, while giving other times of the year to nonprofits declined!! Again, Giving Tuesday has lots of free tools they update regularly to support your efforts. Please check them out!

So, in this hypothetical campaign we are building, Giving Tuesday can be the first time you make an ask for a contribution.

Three Things to Do When Making the Ask:

Successfully making an ask for contributions takes planning!  Start now.

1. Data shows that organizations who set an end of year financial goal vs just making a general appeal do better.   Set a goal by the end of September so you can build your campaign off this number.

2. Organizations who arrange for a donor to provide a match on Giving Tuesday (and for year-end campaign generally) get better response rates than those who do not.  Donors love knowing their funds will be leveraged!   Get a donor match in place by October.

Note: This is a great opportunity for one of your most loyal donors to get many shout-outs and highlights during the process, as you will be telling people many times over about their generous matching gift.

3. Communicate transparently and often.  This can all be done by email.  You can get fancy and drop direct mail, social media, well placed digital ads and even texting into the mix, but it’s not required to be successful.   If you do use other mediums, be sure all the communications align.  What do I mean by transparent communication?

A week to ten days before Giving Tuesday tell your peeps (your mailing list, your social media feed) you need to raise $xxx to accomplish yyyy and every dollar, or every two dollars (figure this out for your needs) donated will be matched up to $50,000, or $5,000 or whatever it is. Acknowledge and thank that matching donor assuming they do not want to be anonymous.

Language can be something like… ‘Giving Tuesday is a chance for all of us to come together and make a big impact because getting us to our goal of $xxx, together we can accomplish yyy in the coming year.  We are so excited this year we are able to further leverage your gift with a matching donation from _______. We invite you to be part of this journey.  Can you help us? Every donation counts.”

Let people know how you are doing… when you reach 30%, 50%, 75%, 85% of your goal. This builds momentum.  Even if you are going into December not having reached your goal, totally fine, don’t stop!   Always have an easily accessible link for people to donate in each communication.

Keep writing in December, telling them where you are and thanking people for their gifts.

If you have met your goal, share with them how raising another $10,000 or $100,000 (whatever is appropriate for your organization) would allow you to do zzzzz – even more impact.   I have seen donors come up with additional matches when goals are met early.  It can be such a win for everyone!

Two Most Generous Days of the Year

In the U.S. the most philanthropic funds are raised the last two days of the year.

So, communicate with donors and prospects through the very end of the year no matter what.

January is about appreciation for all the giving!   Tell stories about the impact you expect to have and how much you appreciate them taking this journey with you.

Where to Start in Building your Year-End Fundraising Strategy for 2023

Before you do anything, start by carefully looking at your own data.  Don’t guess, go by intuition or this article alone.

Open up your CRM, and crunch some numbers, create some reports that will help you make the case for this campaign and make better decisions.

Look for things like:

When have people given the most during the last two months of the year?  Which weeks?

  • What campaigns/emails/direct mail have been most successful (i.e. highest open rates, highest giving rates?)  What was the messaging?  Can you see trends?
  • Who are your major donors and when do they typically give?
  • Do you have lapsed end-of-year donors you could reach out to in a special way?
  • Do you have monthly donors you could make a special kind of appeal to – acknowledging their loyalty and asking for a special year end gift to meet your goal?
  • What is going on in your environment you want to respond to now in your appeal?

Build a campaign from there… Enroll your CEO, Executive Director, Finance Director, Resource Development Director, Board of Directors in this process… for best results you need to be a true team.

Here are 12 ways the board of directors can help with end of year campaign without asking anyone for money.

One thing is clear, the more you ask your donors, the higher the chances are that they will give.

Get Creative!

I am writing this to get your juices going to create your best year-end fundraising strategy for 2023.  Please get creative and tailor these ideas to your situation.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and test what works.  I would love to hear from you below or drop me a note!  That way we all learn together.

If you need some help this year putting your campaign together, please reach out. We would love to support you.

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