Episode 37 – 5 Great Year-End Fundraising Campaigns


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!

In this episode of Nonprofit Answers, Jeremy Reis shares five great campaigns to create more success at your year-end. You’ll learn:

  1. How to create a year end match
  2. Using gratitude to increase your revenue
  3. Why telling impact stories is important
  4. How you should be using video
  5. Mobilizing your best supporters to take action beyond giving

As you prepare your year-end fundraising strategy, listen to these great tips to amplify your nonprofit’s fundraising.


Full Transcript:

The holidays are on their way and it’s time to start thinking about 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 great ideas of things that will work for your nonprofit organization. Today we’re going to explore five ideas that are just great ways to end the year strong with your fundraising.

The first idea is to create a matching donor campaign. As you come to the end of the calendar year and you gear up for this fundraising season, you need to 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. Let me give you some examples of the two different types of match. Let’s say a donor wants to give you $10,000 and says, “I want to challenge people to join me in this gift of $10,000. They might give the money now or they might give it later, but they’re going to give $10,000 no matter what.” That’s a challenge. You’re challenging other donors to step up and join with you in giving money towards the organization. Now, if the donor says, “I’m going to give you $10,000 if you’re able to raise $10,000,” then that’s a real match. The funds are at risk. Now it’s important to distinct between these two matches because you want to be very transparent with the donors that you’re reaching out to to ask them to match. You want them to understand what the original person that put up the match funds, what they wanted to accomplish with it.

So 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 one 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. This year, GivingTuesday is on November 30th. And so this would be a great opportunity if you do have a match to kick off your match with a GivingTuesday campaign on the 30th and include the match going all the way through to December 31st.

The second idea, just say thanks when an individual donates. They’re making a commitment to your organization and they recognize that there’s 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. I’m going to explore three of those with you.

First, ringless voicemails. If you have cell phone numbers for your donor file, send a ringless voicemail. It’s a very powerful way to say thank you to your donors. A ringless voicemail allows you to drop a voicemail directly onto the 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 over 30% increase in giving compared to the control group that didn’t receive the message. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to show your donors that you appreciate them.

The second idea I have around showing gratitude to donors is a personalized video. It’s a powerful tool to connect with donors through a personal thank you video. You can do this the old fashioned way. We just did this at World Concern. Record a video of your president or someone else saying thank you and then use a platform like YouTube to host those videos. What we did was we just recorded a short message that was personalized to donors. So Steven Karen, thank you so much for your gift. Your support over the years has meant so much for us, especially this last year which has been such a difficult and trying year. We really appreciate your partnership and we’re just so thankful for you and what you have done for families and children around the world. It’s a very simple way to show your donors that you care about them and a really personal way to connect with them in a time where it’s really hard to connect with people personally.

If you don’t want to do it the old fashioned way, you can use a platform. There’s platforms like ThankView is a great one. They automate much of that process for you so that you can build a queue of people to say thank you to and just build those videos and send them out to those people. You can use these videos as a way to say thank you to a number of donors at year end or you can send them after every time that somebody provides a donation of significance, you can send a thank you video to them.

The third way to show gratitude at year end is through Christmas cards. Sending your donor Christmas cards demonstrates your care for them and your just appreciation of their support for your organization. There are many benefits to doing this, increased engagement, increased donations, higher donor retention rates. It really helps build that relationship between you and the donor. Write a note thanking your donor for their support and briefly discuss the impact that they’ve made and just tell them how much you appreciate them being a part of your organization.

The third way, the third way at year end to increase your fundraising is to tell great stories. You want to tell your donors and your audience through social media, email, other platforms, great stories about the work that they are making possible through their gift. When you tell donors the great stories that they’re making possible, it helps really connect them to understand that their gift makes an impact. And when donors understand what their gift is going towards, then they’re more likely to give in the future because they understand and hear the stories of the lives changed because they gave. And telling great stories at year end can be as simple as putting out a post via text on social media or email, it can be something more complex like creating a video story, it can be getting on Zoom with a group of donors and having different people close to the work tell them stories of the impact that they’ve made in the lives of the people that you serve.

The fourth campaign for year end is to really use video, but to use it to inspire and educate people. So we found through testing and many people have confirmed this that for a lot of campaigns, using video on the landing page does not result in a lift in donations, but using video to inspire, educate and branding ads to inform people about what’s going on with the organization, those are great tools to show what you’re doing rather than just tell them what you’re doing through stories. Showing them through video really makes an impact and they understand the kind of impact that they’re making with their gift to your organization. So use video, but use it to inspire people, to educate people, to show them the work that they made possible through their gift and they’ll increase the likelihood that as you send out mail and email campaigns at year end, that they’re going to want to participate with you and join you in your efforts because they saw firsthand via these videos what the work is able to accomplish.

The fifth idea for a great year end is to mobilize your best supporters. Your best supporters, these are your folks that are volunteers, they’re giving monthly, they’re participating in events that you hold. They’re really committed to the course and to what you’re trying to accomplish through your nonprofit. And what you want to do when you mobilize your best supporters is to define out what you’re going to ask them to do and then build a campaign around asking them to join your organization through those things. So for example, you may ask these supporters to encourage their friends and family to give in a very specific way at year end. So if you’ve got, many organizations have gift catalogs or global gift guides where they show items, they have showcase items that people can donate towards. So for example, if you’re an education organization, you might have $50 helps a child go to school. $75 puts a desk in a classroom somewhere around the world. So you have these items that people can donate towards.

By building a campaign where you have like let’s say 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 at year end, that can really mobilize them to help move forward your year end fundraising goals. So don’t just ask your best supporters to give, but ask them to get involved. Ask them to bring their friends and family along so that you can tap into this network of people that have a passion for the work that you do.

With the right end of year fundraising campaigns, you can raise your organization’s profile and generate more revenue to fund life-saving work. Today we’ve touched on a few ways that your nonprofit can create successful year end fundraising campaigns that will result in great success for your year end fundraising goals. As you plan out your next steps in creating your year end campaigns, remember to tell stories of impact and show gratitude to your donors. Share photos or videos that are related to the cost so supporters can stay engaged and feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Finally, mobilize your best supporters and their network and ask them to share your organization with their friends and family.

Thank you for joining me today on the Nonprofit Answers Podcast, and thank you for the work that you do to continue helping people locally and abroad to live a better life and to lift them out of poverty, to educate them, to care for those who need the care the most right now. Thank you for what you’re doing to move generosity forward and to move people to give to your organization.


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