EOY (or end-of-year) fundraising can be a critical time for nonprofits. The giving spirit is high, and donors want to know how they can contribute to the causes that they care about.
Your organization needs to do more than simply ask your donors for contributions.
You need to create personal, targeted appeals that show donors how they fit into your fundraising and how their gifts impact the recipients of your aid.
Building a deeper fundraising strategy can help you:
- Raise more funds.
- Retain more donors.
- Fuel more engagement.
The best way to reach your donors in meaningful ways is to look into your donor database or CRM and analyze the data that you have. Your data, after all, provides insight into your donors.
To use your data to innovate your fundraising strategy, you can:
- Perform prospect research
- Identify corporate connections
- Pay attention to politics
- Perfect your pitch
- Personalize your outreach
Let’s take a look at each in more detail - use the links above to jump to a particular section!
Before you jump into your end-of-year campaign, it’s important that you take the time to create the most effective engagement strategy.
Prospect research can help you identify donors with higher giving potential, including major donor prospects. Once you know who these donors are, you can implement a cultivation strategy to increase their giving levels.
The year-end season is the perfect time to implement these strategies. Many donors already give at the end of the year; targeted communications can encourage your supporters to donate more than they normally would.
To identify high-impact prospects in your donor database, look for candidates who:
- Are major donors to similar organizations
- Have held board seats at other nonprofits
- Have given recurring gifts to your organization
- Have increased their gift sizes over the past months and years
These donors already have philanthropic tendencies. It’s important to consider these factors in conjunction with their giving capacities.
You can get a sense for how much a donor can contribute by studying:
- Their business affiliations
- Their real estate holdings
- Their political giving history
- Their stock holdings
Much of this information is publicly available and can be gathered from your donor profiles or a prospect screening company.
While it’s important to identify your major donor prospects so that you can target them appropriately in your year-end campaign, prospect research can build the strength of your campaign as a whole.
At its core, prospect research is designed to help your organization learn more about your prospects and donors. Knowing who your supporters are can help you better engage them.
Summary: Prospect research can help you identify your most promising donors, so that you can send them more targeted EOY appeals.
Your donor data holds valuable insights into your donors’ working lives. A donor’s place of employment can help your organization understand their giving capacity (after all, a highly-salaried donor would probably be able to give more than an hourly employee).
Perhaps more importantly, your donors’ business affiliations can help you identify corporate connections in your organization.
Many companies are invested in corporate social responsibility, or CSR. CSR can manifest in many ways, including financial and in-kind donations, event support, or marketing partnerships.
Matching gifts programs are popular examples of CSR. In this case, an employer will match an employee’s donation to an eligible nonprofit.
Matching gifts can incentivize donors to give — and give more. After all, matching gifts can double the impact of a single donation, strengthening the value of a donor’s contribution.
Identifying matching gift eligible companies in your donor database can help you target opportunities to engage in CSR.
For one thing, you can inform your donors of the opportunity to take advantage of matching gift (or other fundraising) programs in their companies. For another, you can identify businesses that may be interested in partnering for future campaigns.
Since many employers strive to engage in CSR during the EOY season, it’s important that your organization uses the data you have to identify them.
Summary: Researching your donors’ business affiliations can show you opportunities to raise more through matching gift and other CSR programs.
In an election year, the climate leading up to the year-end season is pretty political. While the back-and-forth between parties can be a headache, it’s also an opportunity to identify your most vocal advocates.
Political contributions, after all, are a key piece of donor data that can help you learn more about where your donors stand.
Advocates are cause champions; they’re willing to go to bat for your organization’s mission. Advocates not only support and donate to your cause, but they enact the political and legal change (or, in some cases, maintain the status quo) that’s necessary for your mission to take place.
Paying attention to your donors’ political contributions can help you identify the specific causes that they care most about within the broader picture of your mission.
And with fundraising technology becoming more accessible, crowdfunding campaigns are becoming more popular for political causes. The benefit of this development is that many crowdfunding platforms have social media integrations that your organization can capitalize on.
Equip your cause advocates with your story and year-end hashtag and send them off to their own networks.
Whether supporters are donating to your campaign, sharing an advocacy article, or supporting a political campaign, you can encourage them to tie their advocacy back to your mission by using your year-end hashtag. As such, your supporters can spread the word about your nonprofit through their social media channels.
We are all far more trusting of something that has been vetted by our peers. With the stamp of approval from certain social influencers, your advocates in this case, your year-end campaign could reach a whole new audience of potential donors.
You can also check FEC.gov to study up on your donors’ political contributions. Not only can these donations give you a better sense of your donors’ giving capacity, but you can learn which specific causes appeal most to potential donors.
Summary: Capitalize on the political climate by identifying your organization’s top advocates and providing them with the tools to reach out their own networks about your mission.
No matter the type of fundraising you’re doing, the actual process of asking someone for funds always comes with inherent challenges.
To make donation appeals easier during your campaign, make sure you have a rock-solid pitch.
Your pitch is the center of your outreach efforts, and it should be informative and help sell the campaign to potential prospects. Provide your donors with all of the relevant details and attempt to convince them to donate, all while being concise and visually appealing.
To do so:
Clearly explain how all of your EOY fundraising will be used to further your cause. Use monetary increments, so that donors know how much they need to contribute to achieve a tangible result (For every $100 we raise, we can house a stray dog for a month). Your donor data, such as average gift size, can help you pinpoint the most effective giving levels for your donors.
Tell a story.
Choose a person, animal, or community as the focus of your EOY campaign, and let them tell their story. Quotes from the subject in question, as well as photos, can draw donors into your cause. Reference your past campaign data to find out which kinds of appeals your donors have responded to, so that you can make informed decision about how to tell your story.
Back up your claims.
Show donors that you mean what you say by providing statistical data from past campaigns. Don’t get too bogged down in the numbers, and frame your evidence in donor-centric language (Your generosity helped increase our shelter size by over 50%, saving 43 more dogs in the past quarter).
Using your donor data can help you craft the most convincing, supported pitch that will appeal to your donors. You want your nonprofit’s story to stick in your donor’s minds as they approach the busy year-end season.
Summary: Use donor data to both inform and create an EOY campaign pitch that will persuade your donors to give.
Now that you know what you’re going to say to donors to convince them to give, it’s important that you personalize your communications for your supporters.
Personalizing your outreach shows donors that they matter to your organization. After all, donors want a relationship with your nonprofit, one where they feel valued for their generosity.
Your donor database is full of all of the information you need to pull this off. You just need to know what to look for.
Specifically, these data fields can help you build a custom yet scalable communications strategy:
- The donor’s preferred name and title
- The donor’s preferred communication and giving channel
- Past giving history
- Giving level
With this information, you can communicate more effectively with your donors. How?
You can ensure that every appeal addresses your donors by their names, and that your most important communications are sent in their preferred channels.
Doing so can help ensure that donors follow through with their gifts. If you, for example, know that most donors prefer mailed communications but usually give online with their debit cards, then you can be sure to include a link to your giving page on any mailed materials that you send. That way, your donors can easily customize their giving experience to their own preferences.
Additionally, you can segment your donor database based upon donors’ past giving history or giving potential.
Doing so allows you to customize your outreach strategy for each donor group. For example, including a thank you note for a past gift with information about your year-end campaign to major donors can show them that you value your relationship as much as you value their gift.
Summary: You have information on who your donors are and how they want you to communicate with them. Use it to personalize your outreach so that donors receive the most relevant and insightful appeals.
Since the EOY season is so valuable for nonprofits, it’d be silly to build a blind fundraising strategy. Using these donor data strategies can help you make the most of this hectic-yet-rewarding season!
About the author: Ryan Woroniecki is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch, a prospect research, screening, and analytics company that focuses on proven philanthropy. He has worked with hundreds of nonprofits and is a member of APRA-MD. When he isn’t working, he is an avid kickball player.