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5 key tactics to inspire and engage year-end donors

August 15, 2023
Four nonprofit professionals sit at a table and discuss ways to inspire and engage year-end donors.

According to the M+R Benchmarks Study, online giving and email revenue for nonprofits have continued to drop over recent years, decreasing by 4% since last year. These numbers make it clear that it’s more crucial than ever to engage new and existing donors with renewed effort.

However, this doesn’t mean that your nonprofit organization’s team needs to work harder—only smarter.

As we approach the end-of-year (EOY) fundraising season, it’s time to balance the tried-and-true best practices with some innovative approaches to more effectively inspire your supporters moving forward.

1. Review your donor communications data.

Before you map out your year-end strategy, take a look at your email data. Make note of any specific elements or messaging in your highest-performing appeals from last year and whether there are any downward trends in engagement.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What donor insights can you gain from your past year-end data?
  • Did you employ a different approach or call to action in your best-performing message?
  • Did you notice a drop in click-through rate or a higher-than-normal unsubscribe rate?
  • What do these data points tell you about what to repeat or adjust for this year’s campaign?

By determining how to build upon your past strengths and work on areas you’ve identified for improvement, your nonprofit can lay a solid foundation for your upcoming year-end campaign.

2. Segment and personalize your emails.

Email segmentation and personalization are highly beneficial for targeting donors and crafting tailored messages during the most critical time of the year. In fact, personalized emails result in average open rates that are more than 82% higher than generic emails.

Keep these tips in mind for your upcoming year-end campaign:

  • Reference donors’ past involvement with your nonprofit, including volunteer experiences.
  • Customize an appeal specifically for your monthly donors, thanking them for their sustained support and asking them for a one-time special gift.
  • Recapture lapsed donors with a series of messages that reference the date and amount of their last gift while emphasizing your ongoing need for support.
  • Target potential donors with customized content that asks them to make their first gift today.

There are numerous ways to tailor your year-end messaging. Use the data from your fundraising software to determine which segments of your audience to focus on engaging with personalized content. That way, you’ll be able to effectively connect with the supporters who are most likely to take action in support of your purpose.

3. Make your strongest case for giving.

To make a strong case for giving, ask yourself: What motivates your donors to give? How can you weave that into your messaging?

Consider, for example, the specific challenge or problem your nonprofit is working to solve:

  • How can you clearly and concisely convey why it’s so urgent to meet your fundraising goal?
  • Who or what will be affected if you don’t meet your fundraising goal?
  • What can your organization achieve if you do?
  • How can your supporters help?

Once you’ve drilled down on those details, use them to tailor your messaging, emphasizing how donors’ gifts will make a tangible impact on your programs and beneficiaries.

4. Use every channel at your disposal. 

Multichannel fundraising allows you to meet your supporters where they are—driving conversions and retention. Investing in digital ads, in particular, can significantly boost your fundraising results, particularly at the end of the year. If your nonprofit doesn’t already have a dedicated advertising budget, now is the time to make the pitch.

Regardless of the channels you’re using, ensure your donor journey is consistent across all of them. All of your platforms should reflect the theme, messaging, and imagery featured on your website.

You can also use different digital channels to target specific segments of your donors. From following up on a direct mail drop with a fundraising email or targeting lapsed donors in your year-end campaign’s digital ads, providing donors with another “touchpoint” will help drive giving when it matters most.

5. Be flexible and adapt as needed. 

You might be tempted to “set it and forget it” after months of work developing and implementing your year-end campaign’s goal, strategy, and content. However, a successful year-end fundraising strategy depends upon your team’s ability to analyze results and adapt when necessary.

M+R’s benchmarks indicate that GivingTuesday and year-end revenue have been dropping in the last few years. Since there are likely many factors influencing these trends, nonprofits should plan to be nimble and ready to adapt their strategies for improved results. Keep your eyes peeled for any opportunities—including match increases and compelling infographics to add to emails—to better inspire your donors to take action.

Engaging year-end donors for lasting support

With a well-thought-out plan, your nonprofit can set itself up for success this year-end. Check out our free year-end fundraising timeline to uncover more tips to refine your fundraising strategy and enhance your results.

If you’re looking for a strategic partner to elevate your end-of-year fundraising campaign efforts, consider reaching out to the Fresh Eyes Digital team. They’ve worked for decades with nonprofits to inspire digital audiences and convert them into loyal donors and activists.

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