5 Great Year End Fundraising Ideas

Featured Intermediate, Fundraising, Intermediate

By Jeremy Reis

The holidays are on their way, and it’s time to start thinking about the year end fundraising. Whether you want to increase your donations, get new donors involved or create some buzz around your organization with a campaign that will last until the end of the year, there are plenty of ideas that will work for you. Here are five great ones!

1. Create a Matching Donor Campaign

As you come to the end of the calendar year and gear up for fundraising season, use one of the best fundraising tools available – the match. What do you do with a donor who wants to have the most significant impact with their gift? Give them an opportunity to see their gift double.

There are two types of matches: a challenge and a match. If a donor gives a gift or intends to give a gift and the funds are not at risk during the match, we call it a matching challenge. If a donor puts funds at risk, meaning your nonprofit will only receive the funds if the matching funds are raised, it is a match. It’s essential to be transparent with donors about what type of match you’re using in the campaign.

Where do you find donors to enter into a match?

You don’t need all of the match funds to come from one person or source. For example, if you offer a $50,000 matching campaign, the $50,000 can come from multiple sources. Many organizations ask board members to contribute to the match fund for year-end. Other organizations reach out to significant donors and ask them to consider contributing to the match fund. Some organizations will ask donors when they give a large amount, such as $1,000 or more, to consider earmarking the funds for a matching challenge.

Donors love a matching opportunity! Use your year-end to kick off a matching campaign that helps donors feel like their gift goes further.

2. Just Say Thanks

When an individual donates, they’re making a commitment to your organization and recognizing that there is something worth funding in your work. Just like any other relationship, developing trust takes time and effort on both sides—and saying thank-you goes a long way towards fostering that sense of gratitude that will keep donors coming back!

There are several great ways to say “thank you” to donors during year-end.

Ringless Voicemail

If you have cell phone numbers for your donor file, sending a ringless voicemail is one of the most powerful ways to say “thank you” to your donors. A ringless voicemail allows you to drop a voicemail directly onto a cell phone without the phone ringing. In November, you can send out a message from your founder, executive director, or president wishing your community a Happy Thanksgiving and telling them thank you for their support. One year we tested this with a small group of mid and major donors and saw an over 30% lift in giving compared to a control group that didn’t receive the message. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to show your donors you appreciate them.

Personalized Videos

A powerful tool to connect with donors is through personalized thank you videos. You can do this the old fashioned way, recording a video and using a platform like YouTube to host it. Another option is a video platform like ThankView that will automate much of the process for you.

You can use these videos as a way of saying “thank you” to a number of donors during the giving season or after individual gifts to provide a personal “thank you.” Find a script here for your videos.

Christmas Cards

Sending your donors Christmas cards demonstrates your care for them and their support for your nonprofit organization. There are many benefits of doing this such as increased engagement, increased donations and higher donor retention rates. Write a note thanking your donor for their support, briefly discussing the impact they made, and how much you appreciate them being a part of your organization.

Discover more ways to tell your donors “thank you.”

3. Tell Great Stories

Year-end is a unique time to tell effective impact stories. Stories demonstrate to donors what you did with their gifts and the life-changing work you will continue to do. Impact stories produce trust in your donors that encourages them to continue supporting your organization. Nonprofit fundraising, at its core, is storytelling. Telling a story of how your organization has helped one beneficiary be transformed is the building block of telling the story of your organization. In nonprofit development, the story we use in fundraising is called the story of the one.

It’s called the story of the one because you’re telling the story of how one beneficiary’s life was like before the nonprofit helped, during the transformation, and after the organization helped. It’s a story that emotionally connects the reader to the cause. Giving isn’t a logical decision, it’s an emotional one. You need to emotionally connect with someone to overcome their attachment to their hard earned dollars and show them that your organization can be the tool that connects their desire to support a cause with the ability to do good work. You’re the hands and feet to their desire to give back.

Telling great stories without an ask helps reinforce your organization’s mission to the reader. Great stories that emotionally connect with the reader will generate donors who are more committed to your organization and increase your year-end revenue.

4. Use Video to Inspire and Educate

Video is a powerful tool to connect donors with the work they’re funding. I do recommend using video, but using it to inspire and educate people. Testing has shown using video on the landing page often does not result in a lift in donations. Instead, use video to inspire and educate people about what’s going on with the organization. Video shows the donor the work instead of just telling the donor stories. Showing donors through video makes an impact, and the viewer understands the kind of impact that they’re making with their gift to your organization.

Use video, but use it to inspire people, educate people, to show them the work they made possible through their gift, and increase the likelihood of a gift. As you send out mail and email campaigns at year-end, recipients will want to join you in your organization’s efforts because they saw firsthand via these videos what the work can accomplish.


5. Mobilize Your Best Supporters

Year-end is a great time to mobilize your best supporters. Your best supporters are volunteers, monthly donors, and people who participate in events that you hold. They’re committed to the cause and to what you’re trying to accomplish through your nonprofit.

At year-end, create a campaign to mobilize your best supporters to join your organization and accomplish more than they could on their own. For example, you may ask these supporters to encourage their friends and family to give in a particular way at year-end. If your organization has a gift catalog that showcases items that people can donate towards. For example, if you’re an education organization, you might have $50 to help a child go to school, or $75 places a desk in a classroom somewhere around the world. Build a campaign where you offer the five most critical items at year-end and ask your best supporters to encourage their friends and family to join them in giving some of these five critical items. Ask your best supporters to not only give but also activate their friends and family join the passion they have for the work that you do.

With the right end-of-year fundraising campaign, you can raise your profile and generate more revenue to fund lifesaving work. We’ve touched on a few ways that nonprofits can create successful year-end campaigns for their fundraising efforts with great success. As you plan out the next steps in creating your year-end campaigns, remember to tell stories of impact. Share photos or videos related to the cause so supporters stay engaged and feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Finally, mobilize your best supporter networks by asking them to share your organization with their friends and family.


Get Your Free Course!