Online Fundraising
October 20, 2021

Year-end Fundraising Strategy for Nonprofits: 5 Tips for Success

The year-end giving season presents the single biggest opportunity for a nonprofit to generate revenue for a financially robust year. According to Double the Donation, 30% of annual giving happens in December, with about 10% of all annual donations coming in the last three days of the year. Nonprofits make a sizable portion of their annual revenues during the giving season—this is fairly common knowledge and almost every charity and nonprofit understands it. 

But what is often left out of the discussion is how overwhelming and chaotic end-of-season fundraising can be. This is especially more so when you are trying to tackle everything from setting up the technology platform to marketing and promotions, and more, all at the same time. 

And even within a single fundraising campaign, you have to make dozens of decisions such as which channels to utilize, which donor groups to focus on, and then taking the time to craft the right messaging, and finalize fundraising tools.

In this article, we will walk you through the benefits of online fundraising (via charitable gaming) and share five tips that will boost your chances of success while running a year-end fundraising campaign.

Benefits of online fundraising through charitable gaming

In recent times, a large number of nonprofits are opting for online gaming-based fundraising such as 50/50 raffles and Catch the Ace because:

  • Gamification of fundraising events is known to drive engagement, acquisition, and retain donors;
  • They help reduce operational overheads and increase return on investment (ROI);
  • They enable real-time tracking of key metrics and aid in decision-making; 
  • They are rewarding for the charity and donors alike; and 
  • The size of the winnings, in most cases, are life-changing amounts and allows donors to benefit in two ways: by supporting a great cause and earning a chance to win a great cash prize.

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Tips for running a year-end online fundraising campaign successfully

1. Analyze past year-end campaigns

Before you plunge into your year-end campaign, begin by taking a detailed look at historical campaign data. Acquiring and analyzing relevant information and insights from previous years should be your first step when it comes to planning a brand new year-end campaign as it can help inform next steps.  

When evaluating previous campaigns, consider the following questions:

  • What worked?
  • What challenges did you face when running the campaign?
  • Which avenues did you tap into for fundraising?
  • How much did you raise in total?
  • Which donor segments contributed the most?
  • What was the average size of donation?
  • Which channels provided the highest conversion rates? Take stock of social media, email campaigns, and donation pages.

Related: How to Use Social Media to Maximize Return on Investment (ROI) from Fundraisers

If you can spare some time, go a step further and see how the funds from last year helped you achieve your goals this year. Think in terms of navigating the challenges that you faced last year and see how you will overcome them this time around.

2. Plan campaign timeline and budget and set milestones

Your charity or nonprofit should have a budget and timelines for your campaigns. October, November and December are critical months for year-end fundraising campaigns. 

Generally, October is considered to be the month when your year-end giving campaign starts to pick up pace as you begin executing your marketing campaigns. If you are participating in Giving Tuesday campaigns, it is a good idea to initiate its marketing towards the end of October. Set smaller milestones to stay on track.

In November, the majority of your efforts should be focused on outreach—optimize your communication strategy and make your online marketing campaigns as engaging for your donors as possible. Consider including online gaming-based fundraising programs such as 50/50 raffles or Catch the Ace that act as good motivators for recurring donations. 

December is the month when you drive your campaigns home and emphasize that this is the last chance for donors to make a tax-deductible gift. Ideally, your entire team should have access to the campaign timeline. Consider having weekly meetings, and as you inch closer to the finish line, daily check-ins with the team to make sure everything is on track.

Use the first week of January to thank donors who participated and made your fundraiser a success. You can post announcements, send thank-you emails or handwritten letters (for mid-range and major donors) or reach out via phone calls to show your appreciation. Take some time to review your fundraising efforts to glean insights about what worked and what could’ve been done differently.

Related: How to Build Social Engagement for Online Charity Raffles and Fundraisers

3. Prepare your technology platform and tools

If you are feeling overwhelmed about running an online fundraiser, struggling with spreadsheets, spending hours making sense of freemium software to send emails to large groups of donors, or worrying about organizing tax receipts, then don’t. Depending on how involved you want to be in the implementation and execution process, a solutions provider like Ascend Fundraising Solutions (versus a technology supplier that only provides the platform) might be a better fit. 

Here are Ascend’s offerings in a nutshell: 

  • Full lifecycle services: While other players offer ‘easy to use’ platforms, Ascend offers value by not only providing a world-class platform but by working as your partner to ensure your programs achieve maximum impact. Ascend takes care of everything from marketing to promotions, licensing, analytics, and much more.
  • End-to-end program execution: For charities and nonprofits that need even more help, Ascend runs entire end-to-end programs for them as a fully outsourced partner. Our programs ensure that we can overcome all of the hurdles you may be facing when running your programs to help you exceed your fundraising expectations.
  • Lower costs and full transparency: Ascend’s pricing is 100% performance-based. Plus, the upfront costs are minimal to remove barriers to entry and ensure that we are focused on program success.

4. Plan email and marketing campaigns 

Email marketing is critical for nonprofits and it is in fact the most valuable tool in your arsenal. A sound email marketing strategy can help you develop a loyal donor base, expand your reach, and drive larger donations.

But the first step to getting there is segmenting your donor base and tailoring your communications to each group. Some donors may be regular contributors, some may be giving smaller monthly amounts, while still others may be supporting a specific type of fundraiser. When donors contribute to a cause, they are likely doing so because of an emotional response. Donating to your cause is ‘personal’ to them. And your messaging to each donor group needs to reflect that.

Did you know: Personalized emails can generate transaction rates (donations) of up to six times more compared to a generic email?

Moreover, creating a cohesive experience across various touchpoints such as website, social, emails, etc is also important and plays a crucial role in helping donors become familiar with your brand. Make sure all your major touchpoints carry your charity’s branding so they come across as professional. The best way to go about it would be to have easy-to-follow branding guidelines. 

Related: 8 Email Marketing Tips for Nonprofits to Inspire Giving and Attract Donors

5. Thank your donors, partners, and well-wishers

It is best to have your ‘thank you’ materials ready before the start of the campaign. The importance of thanking your donors cannot be stressed enough. It makes them feel appreciated and reminds them of the difference that they are making with their contributions.

For the year-end giving season, a good time to thank donors is right after the new year begins. Involve your community in the highs and lows of your nonprofit’s journey and let them know if you were able to reach your goals. Make sure you share what you would be able to accomplish in the coming year thanks to their support. Use it as an opportunity to express gratitude and retain donors. 

Don’t miss out on thanking your staff and volunteers too for their dedication and commitment. The giving season can be a stressful and labor-intensive period for charities and these are the people who make it all happen, but can sometimes feel left out.

The giving season is soon approaching. By partnering with a company like Ascend, you can be completely hands-off or as involved as you’d like in running an online charitable gaming fundraiser that can help you achieve (and exceed) your fundraising goals. 

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