Some things never change. December is a month during which nearly everyone is thinking about causes that matter to them and how they can express their generosity to them. That means you still need to consider year-end giving as part of your annual giving strategy.
Churches and nonprofit organizations will raise more money during the month of December than at any other time of the year. If you don’t have a plan to make your case for year-end giving, resources that could have funded your ministry will end up elsewhere.
But there is good news! You don’t need a large team or robust budget. And it’s not too late to begin planning! There is still time to be a part of this yearly philanthropic activity if you’re ready to step into action today.
RESOURCE: If you’re looking for a complete and comprehensive take on year-end giving strategies, be sure to download our free year-end generosity game plan today that is designed to help you finish strong and enable more ministry.
Get Ready in Four Easy Steps
Step One: Pull Together Your Year-End Generosity Team
As the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” That’s true for year-end generosity, too. You need to divide and conquer. Don’t try to do this all yourself. There are too many other distractions that will leave you feeling overwhelmed and likely result in another year of missed opportunities.
Recruiting this small but mighty team should not be too difficult. After all, you are only asking for a few weeks of time and commitment. Consider people who are good writers who can craft a year-end giving letter that speaks to all you have accomplished in 2021. They may also write a series of emails to your members at year-end. Have someone take on the role of creating social media content to remind people to consider your church or nonprofit in their year-end giving. Be sure you have someone who is current on the more complex gifts such as 401K and IRA distributions and stock gifts.
Step Two: Create a Year-End Communications Plan
Direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to raise funds at year-end. Despite all our digital communication, donors still respond to direct asks that arrive in their mailboxes.
Here are a few practical tips:
- Start the letter with thank you. Every donor loves to be thanked. Expressing gratitude is one of the most effective fundraising strategies.
- Highlight life change and impact. People give to causes they believe are making a difference in the world. Help them see how you are effectively changing lives.
- Offer a preferred future that can be created with their help. Help the donor step into the world of possibilities that align with their deepest interests.
- Include instructions on ways to give, including online giving (web address), text-to-give, stocks, assets, and non-cash giving. Tell people what you want them to do and how.
- Be sure to include a reply envelope to make it easy for people to respond. Fewer steps for the donor will create a higher response rate.
Email & Social Media
Consider email as an integral part of your communication plan and a gateway for contributions. It is unnecessary to write new or different copy. You can re-purpose the direct mail letter using the salient points and a few succinct bullets.
Prepare four to five emails to send during the last week of the year. Use the same content to create a buzz on your social media, too.
Here are a few practical tips:
- Use photos. Images can convey emotion and will touch people’s hearts.
- Keep the copy short. Most people will read your email on their phones, so brevity is key.
- Include a link to your donation page. Making it quick and easy for the donor will result in higher responses to your appeal.
Thirty-one percent of annual giving occurs in December, and 12 percent of annual giving occurs in the final three days of the year.
Consider this communications schedule:
- In the first week of December: Send thank you email to all supporters.
- At the end of the first week of December: Mail the year-end giving letter.
- Throughout December: Use all current communication channels to feature life change and ministry impact.
- Mid-December: Mail follow-up letter to those who’ve not yet given. For those who have given, send a holiday message thanking donors for their support.
- Before Christmas: Send a special holiday message to those who have been generous. Your message should thank your donors for their support and not request an additional gift.
- Send an email at least daily from December 28 through 31 to encourage giving. Be sure to include links to your donation page and text-to-give.
Step Three: Connect Personally with Your Financial Leaders
It is essential that you take the time to reach out to each of your financial leaders and articulate back to them how their generosity has made a difference in your ministry. This can happen through a phone call, video conference, or, if possible, a living room visit.
Your most ardent supporters are often the most overlooked when it comes to sharing program efficiency and impact measures, yet the first to be asked when you need additional financial resources. Financial leaders have invested heavily in your ministry. Be sure you take the time to celebrate their generosity.
When you meet, ask good questions. You will want to know about changes in their families, what’s most important to them right now, and what they are most excited about regarding your ministry. This is a wonderful time to listen, pray, and dream about the future—together.
Step Four: Communicate About Year-End Giving in Worship
Nothing can move a church or ministry forward farther or faster than when the senior leader utilizes their platform to encourage year-end giving activity. Whether you are live in worship each week or communicate across various digital platforms, use what you have to connect with your donors, express appreciation, document life change and impact, and direct your audience to ways they can be generous through your ministry.
Your supporters need to hear from you. They need to be asked by someone they trust and respect. Donors frequently reveal that trust in an organization’s leadership is a primary motivator for their giving. Don’t neglect the opportunity you have to make year-end giving count for your ministry simply by making it a priority in your communications planning.
Year-End Giving Isn’t a Mystery
There is still plenty of time to make sure year-end giving enables you to fully fund your ministry plan. What you do right now will impact your year-end giving results. It’s not about being innovative or super creative. Instead, it’s about setting up a plan that communicates with your supporters and shares your powerful ministry story.
Here is what you can do right now:
- Download our free year-end giving game plan.
- Watch this year-end giving discussion with generosity experts.
- Share this blog post with your leadership team, especially your financial leaders.
- Develop a plan. And set your church up for next level generosity in 2022.
- Reach out if you’d like to speak with an experienced coach to help you maximize year-end giving and jump-start a culture of generosity in your church or ministry.