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Common Q&A's On Year-End Fundraising

It’s a busy time of year for us who fundraise as we approach year-end. I hope by now you have a plan in place and feel good about your goals. At Flagship, we are running several year-end campaigns and are excited to see what the Lord is going to do! 

Today, I’d like to answer a few common questions I get from nonprofit leaders about year-end fundraising.

1. How much communication should I send out?

Here’s a schedule I like to follow:

  • November: 3-4 emails, 1st direct mail piece (kick-off postcard or letter)

  • December: 4-6 emails (with at least 2 of them on the last 3 days of the year), 2nd direct mail piece (campaign letter with pledge card)

2. Last year I mailed a letter and didn’t get many responses. What did I do wrong?

Remember the movie line from Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner...

Sadly, this isn’t the case with fundraising campaigns. Make note of this survey Scott Morton took of 100 Navigator staffers who made 7,800 financial appeals.

Here are the four different methods they utilized:

  • Spoke and asked in a group —The result? Only 9% of those appealed to in a group supported the staffer.

  • Sent letter to individuals —The study showed 14% gave.

  • Sent individual letter, then followed with call —27% ended up giving.

  • Face-to-face —46% of the people they met with in an individual appointment became financial partners.

As you can see, if you follow up with a phone call or face-to-face appointment your chances of securing a gift significantly increase. My advice…carve out several hours a week beginning NOW through the end of year to intentionally work on connecting with your supporters. I like to start with major donors first, then the mid-level donors next when I am executing a campaign.

If you have not done a good job of connecting on a personal level with these folks, be very cautious of treating them like an ATM machine. If they only hear from you when you have a need, you should invest some attention to developing a better donor care plan in the future (we can help!).

3. What about social media?

As with any fundraising campaign, the more channels of communication you use the better! I like to create branded social posts to go along with the theme of the campaign. Use photos of real people as much as possible. Seek to tell stories with your posts. I also like to "boost" several posts using paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram (to followers and friends of followers).

Boosting is not very expensive. You control your own budget. If a campaign is not preforming well, you can end it and launch another. When advertising on social, it’s best to use a photo with very little text on the image. If you create an image that is text heavy, the ad will either be rejected or won’t perform well if it’s approved. The body of the post should be no more than 3 sentences. Make sure you have a link for any calls to action in the body of your post. You can use Bitly to shorten links and Canva to create images (both are free).

Don’t forget…Facebook allows you to add a donate button to any post if you are an approved nonprofit and Instagram now has a donate feature on stories (more on this here).

4. Should I use peer to peer fundraising?

There are many platforms that allow you to create a peer to peer fundraising campaign allowing your raving fans to make their own fundraising page and easily share on social media inviting their friends to give. My top pick for a platform is Classy. My second pick is Click and Pledge (free). When peer to peer fundraising campaigns are well planned, they can be an awesome addition to your campaign strategy. The best way to go about this is to recruit a team of supporters made up of donors, volunteers, staff or board members (at least 15-20 people). Look for people that are actively engaged on social media.

I have found success in helping the team set up their campaign page and providing them a schedule. The schedule should consist of recommended posting dates, times and pre-written content they can use in their posts as they share their personal campaign page on social. The more you can simplify this process for them, the better. 

5. How do I determine my ask? I will answer this question with a question. Do you want to raise a percentage of your annual budget during this campaign or raise funds for a special project? Here’s tips for both…

Determining/pitching a budget based goal:

1.Identify expense budget for November and December. 2. Subtract the “auto pilot” funding amount you can expect from past years’ experience. 3. Determine how much if any of January, February and March expenses to add to the year-end goal. 4. Compare this number against previous year-end funds raised. 5. Link the goal to life impact.  

Determining/pitching a project based goal:

1. Compile expenses into commonly recognized categories and be prepared to provide specifics if asked. 2. Focus on regular expenses — staff salaries and benefits, rent and utilities, supplies and materials, insurance, travel, training, etc. 3. Determine how much of the project budget you need to raise for year-end. 4. Link the goal to life impact. 5. Present the “big picture” (30,000 ft. view) in your appeals.

6. How do I link the goal to life impact? Your supporters want to know how their gift will impact lives. Saying we need $50,000 to meet our year-end budget isn’t compelling. In order to show your supporters a return on their investment, you must first be able to calculate the cost of life served (per program). Here’s a free download that will walk you through this exercise.

If there's anything we can do to support your ministry this year-end, don't hesitate to reach out!


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