Boost Year-End Giving Blog Image 2023

Most ministries raise their largest amount of dollars during the year-end fundraising season. It is the one time of year when generosity seems to be a shared expectation and experience. That’s why a successful year-end campaign has a significant impact on fully funding your ministry plan to ensure you can make the biggest possible impact on your community. 

Donors are primed to give during this time and in particular the last few days of the year. To have greater success don’t only focus on fundraising the last week of the year, start on GivingTuesday and continue throughout the month of December.    

In this blog post, you will receive practical advice and tips to help you raise the most money during this critical time.

Importance of Year-End Giving

Why is year-end such a crucial time for ministries? 

It is during the holiday season that supporters are the most generous. They give for many reasons including:

  • Receiving favorable tax benefits
  • The holiday season brings out a spirit of giving in people
  • Supporters want to make a positive impact before the year ends
  • To show gratitude for the ministry
  • To support timely needs

On average, ministries raise 25 percent of their annual revenue in December and online revenue ranges from 17 to 31 percent. The last three days of the year are the busiest when approximately 12 percent of all giving happens.

Cultivate Relationships with Existing Donors

Your year-end strategy needs to focus not only on fundraising but on donor stewardship and maintaining strong relationships with existing supporters. Donor cultivation should happen all year, but in October, November, and December, place a higher priority on it. 

Connect with your stakeholders, board members, and donors to show them how their giving has helped create life change and ministry impact. To engage with your donors, share: 

  • Personalized communication: Call them or send an email and update them about a project or other area of the ministry that interests them.  
  • Express gratitude: Consider sending a handwritten note or a personalized video saying “thank you.” You don’t need to send a long message, as long as it is heartfelt. 
  • Success stories: There are many ways to share how your ministry is impacting lives. Write impact stories for each day of the last week of the year and share them on social media, on your website, and through email. Calls and Zoom meetings are also excellent ways to maximize your time and the impact of a personal touch.
  • Opportunities for involvement and feedback: Ask your donors for advice, to volunteer, or for their opinions. When you involve them, donors feel heard and appreciated. Use surveys or speak with them one-on-one.

Develop a Compelling Year-End Campaign

The first step to creating a successful year-end campaign is to set clear fundraising goals. Make sure these goals align with your ministry's strategic plan goals. Don’t focus on one fundraising goal but use the month of December to set multiple goals, such as increasing monthly donors, re-engaging lapsed donors, or encouraging specific donor segments to give more.

Once you have your goals set, create a compelling narrative that resonates with donors. Describe the problem and the need. Tell a story to connect with supporters on an emotional level. Finally, ask for a donation using clear, concise donor-centered language.  

With your plan, goals, and a story-first message in place, it’s time to prepare everything you need to run your year-end campaign. To ensure you’re ready, complete each of these steps:

  • Utilize online fundraising platforms that provide easy and secure donation options.
  • Develop a landing page with a mobile-friendly giving form.
  • Link to that landing page from your home page.
  • Add the link and a QR code to your direct mailing.
  • Include that link in your email, text messages, and your social media updates.
  • Locate images to use, including ones for your stories. 
  • Create email templates and write copy for each touch point.
  • Write text messages and social media posts, and schedule them to send.
  • Implement a strong call-to-action for each channel that directs potential donors to take action.

Write the longest appeal first (oftentimes this is the direct mail appeal) and then adapt it for each unique channel. Use as many channels as possible to amplify your message to a wider audience. The most common channels to use are:

  • Direct mail
  • Website article
  • Email
  • Social media & video
  • Text messages
  • Website banners
  • Social media and website ads  

Provide Multiple Giving Opportunities

It is not enough to send your year-end message through different channels. You should also offer various ways for donors to contribute, including online donations, text-to-give options, recurring giving programs, and matching gift campaigns.

No matter which giving option your donors choose, provide a simple, secure, and user-friendly donation process to maximize donor participation. Keep the donation form fields to a minimum. Only ask for the required amount of information to process the donation. Hint: one way to show potential donors a landing page is secure is to add a lock graphic next to the donation form.  

A common mistake many ministries make is to forget to change their website home page to highlight year-end giving during the last week of the year. Add a banner or bar to the top of your website in a bright color that redirects to the year-end landing page. Change the main image on your website to go to the same landing page as the banner. Update any side banners, as well.

Leverage Matching Gifts and Challenges

Similar to GivingTuesday campaigns, matching gift opportunities are a popular strategy for year-end. If you plan to promote a matching opportunity, you will need to secure the initial matching gift offer weeks or months before you begin your campaign. This gives you time to craft your messaging.

Reach out to generous donors or corporate partners for the starting match amount. A match opportunity has four benefits for the ministry and the donors.

  1. Increases donor engagement by allowing donors to do more for your mission without needing to give more. 
  2. Additional fundraising revenue for your ministry. Often donors will give a larger gift if they know it is matched. 
  3. Improved donor retention leads to supporters feeling more connected to the ministry. 
  4. Develops new and long-term business relationships by offering exclusive opportunities for ministries to support like-minded missions. 

Supporters respond when they know their gift will go further, with over 80 percent saying they are more likely to give during a match opportunity.

Utilize Year-End Giving Events and Celebrations

A tangible way to get supporters involved with your ministry during the holiday season is to host special or virtual events. These events allow your donors to engage with your ministry as well as a time to share accomplishments the ministry has experienced throughout the year.

The event you choose should align with your ministry’s mission and values. Consider creative events such as:

  • Virtual galas, silent auctions, or even a baking class
  • Live streamed concerts
  • Small group gatherings
  • Caroling
  • Tree decorating contest

Inspire Generosity

Don’t worry about over-communicating during your year-end campaign. In fact, you should increase your communication the closer you get to the last day of the year. For instance, it is acceptable to email your supporters every day during the last week of December as long as you provide story-driven and valuable messages. You can post a couple of times a day on social media. Write and schedule these communications ahead of time, giving you more time to speak and follow up with donors.   

Year-end is the most important time of year for fundraising. Focus on your strategy and communication plans, goals, and messages. Look for creative ways to get donors involved, whether through gift-matching opportunities or special events. 

Maintain a donor-centered approach in everything you do from planning to messaging. Express your gratitude and communicate consistently the impact your donors have made.

Use these strategies to maximize your year-end giving potential. Donors are ready and willing to give during this time of year. Make sure you’re ready, too.

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