The following is a guest post from Meyer Partners.
The days are getting shorter, lights and decorations are being hung, and the highly-anticipated end of year is drawing near. Along with the seasonal changes that come with the end of the calendar year, there is also the shift to year-end giving campaigns in the nonprofit sector.
With so many nonprofits competing for donations during this time, it’s more important than ever to create engaging content for your supporters and donors. In this guide, we’ll walk through key marketing strategies for making your year-end giving content stand out so you can maximize donations in the final stretch of the year.
Direct mail is one of the most successful ways to reach donors. According to Meyer Partners, donors are more likely to open mailed donation requests. Direct mail is sometimes thought of as an outdated strategy but when done well, direct mail can be more impactful than other communication methods.
Here are some ways to incorporate direct mail into your year-end giving campaign:
- Optimize your direct mail address list. Use your donor database to identify donors who have recently and frequently donated to your organization. These active donors are the most likely to respond again to your direct mail piece.
- Personalize the content. Address donors by their first names to make them feel seen and appreciated. If possible, acknowledge their specific giving amounts for the current year.
- Include calls-to-action. Make sure that supporters know what the next step is after receiving the piece of mail. Encourage them to mail in their gift or share with friends to reinforce the push for year-end giving.
- Use QR codes and website URLs. QR codes and links are a simple way to direct supporters to the next step you’re asking of them. For example, “Go to our website to give to our year-end giving campaign by scanning the QR code.”
- Send out annual reports. Now is a great time to highlight all the achievements of your nonprofit from the year. Telling donors about your accomplishments can encourage them to give, knowing that their contributions will be impactful. It can also make donors feel more comfortable giving when they know where funds are going and that they won’t be misappropriated.
When creating a direct mail campaign for the year-end season, be sure to include what your goals for the year were and how you met them. Use imagery of volunteers at work to help supporters visualize how they can support your cause. Remember to include a personalized reply slip and pre-addressed reply envelope to reduce reply time.
Nonprofit storytelling is crucial for all marketing strategies, but can be especially useful in a year-end giving campaign. Storytelling drives engagement among supporters, especially when they are able to more intimately understand your mission and work.
Choose an impactful constituent story or one that shows your nonprofit’s achievements and craft a narrative for it. Starting a few months before year-end giving season, you can release parts of the story to captivate your supporters.
Here are a few elements of storytelling for nonprofits to include to build up the story over time:
- Setting can place an audience in a new environment and help position the story’s time and location. You can get specific about what area of the country or state that your nonprofit mostly works in to set the scene.
- Strong characters will be your constituents who benefit from your nonprofit’s work. If possible, share pictures or videos of your constituents to humanize their story and help the audience connect with them.
- Heroes can vary in nonprofit storytelling, but in the case of year-end giving, you’ll want to make donors the hero. By demonstrating how a donor’s gift can benefit your main characters and enhance your nonprofit’s work, you’ll inspire more giving.
- The climax of a story can be a great conflict that’s overcome, and this is your opportunity to compare and contrast the problem your nonprofit faces with the progress you’ve made possible.
- Resolution can inspire donors by showing that progress is possible and that positive change does occur through their gifts.
- Calls-to-action help donors understand how they can get involved by giving them directions for their next steps.
Developing an impactful nonprofit story takes time. Remember to start ahead of the end-of-year season for the best results. You can use your stories on numerous communications platforms, including direct mail.
Research shows that, on average, internet users around the world use social media for 147 minutes a day, or nearly two and a half hours. Thus, when you design a social media campaign for your year-end campaign, you have a great chance of your supporters seeing and interacting with your posts!
To give your social media campaign an edge, you can also launch a peer-to-peer fundraiser. With this type of fundraiser, your supporters will create their own personal donation pages to share with friends, family, and coworkers. The best way to do this is by posting consistently on social media, so a campaign like this will pair well with the posts your nonprofit has planned.
According to Bloomerang’s peer-to-peer fundraising guide, here are some helpful tips for hosting a peer-to-peer challenge:
- Set a deadline related to a well-known holiday so supporters will be more inclined to give immediately.
- Set goals to inform supporters how much fundraising it will take to complete one of your projects for next year.
- Celebrate your wins so supporters know they’re doing a good job, and that their gifts will make a difference.
- Thank your supporters for participating as fundraisers or as donors. Everyone’s effort will have made a difference.
People are more motivated than ever to give and participate in charitable activities toward the end of the year, so this is the perfect time to mobilize your supporters. In addition to asking for donations, you can also ask for volunteers for any holiday-based service projects to help maximize the season’s air of generosity.
For small to mid-sized nonprofits, partnering with the local community during year-end can help get the word out about your work. Ask local businesses if they would be interested in partnering with you to raise money during your year-end campaign.
Here are a few ways to get local businesses involved in your year-end campaign:
- Create graphics and flyers for them to post on their social media or hang up in their store.
- Host fundraising nights at their businesses, with a portion of the proceeds going to your nonprofit. They will be grateful for the extra patronage and exposure, and you can raise money for your cause.
- Sponsor year-end giving events by providing the catering or decorations. Your nonprofit can benefit by cutting event costs and the business will boost their brand recognition with quality donor experiences.
Remember that local businesses are busy during the last months of the year as well, so make sure to reach out well before their schedules get hectic. Partnering with local businesses can help raise money for your organization, but it can also help you recruit volunteers and teach the public more about your cause. Inquire about hosting an information event at local businesses first for more hesitant partners.
Year-end is a hectic time for nonprofit organizations, businesses, and supporters alike. Although this season is known to be more charitable and have a higher spirit of giving, potential supporters won’t learn about your organization without some effort on your part. Whether you use direct mail, storytelling, peer-to-peer fundraising, or business partnerships, be sure to incorporate multiple methods of marketing into your year-end giving campaign.
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