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6 ways to optimize your year-end fundraising campaigns

December 05, 2021
A nonprofit professional stands at a table, discussing ways to optimize a year-end fundraising campaign with her seated colleagues.

For fundraising professionals and nonprofit organizations, the end of the year is crunch time. 10 percent of all online giving happens December 29-31. This means that one final year-end fundraising campaign can make a major difference in your annual revenue and be the push you need to reach your fundraising goal for the year.

Is your organization ready to take advantage of the year-end season? Here are six simple things you can do right now to ensure your year-end giving campaign succeeds.

1. Set smart goals for your year-end campaign.

Before you begin your campaign, it’s essential to have a clear, attainable, and measurable result in mind. Decide how you will define success, so you can report on it at the end of your campaign. 

Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Set your goals by answering four simple questions:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • What actions do I want supporters to take?
  • What is the best way to reach my audience?

Use the results of any past year-end campaigns to inform your decisions about this year’s goals. To determine the best ways to reach your nonprofit’s audience, consult your marketing data and information about donor preferences in your CRM.

2. Optimize your online donation process.

Your website is crucial for your year-end fundraising campaign. This is where most of your marketing materials and calls to action will lead supporters, so both your website and your donation page need to be fully optimized. You can utilize Bonterra Donor Engagement’s Guided Fundraising solution (formerly Network for Good) to design branded donation pages that attract new donors, increase gift amounts, and drive repeat giving. 

Use these tips to ensure your website is ready for your year-end campaign:

  • Simplify your donation button. Your donation button should be large, clear, and easy to find on your website. Use direct, action-oriented language, and stick to one or two words, like “donate now.”
  • Optimize your donation form for mobile devices. A majority of your supporters will access your donation page from their phones, so your page needs to be accessible on mobile devices.
  • Create a year-end donation banner. Post a vibrant year-end campaign banner on your website’s homepage that links directly to your online donation page.
  • Link to your donation page in all your communications. Include links in all your email blasts and social media posts so donors can simply click and give without spending time hunting for your donation page. 

Ultimately, you should aim to optimize the donation process. The faster your process is, the more supporters will complete their donations.

3. Write story-driven year-end fundraising appeals.

An effective appeal is equal parts emotional and urgent. You want to engage readers with a compelling story. Focus your story on a central character, such as a beneficiary, community member, or donor. Then, use emotional language to emphasize how supporters can make an impact. 

Consider using these tips when crafting your appeals:

  • Make the donor the superhero. Remember, your donors make your work possible. They’re your stakeholders. Highlight their impact on your organization’s success, then show them how their donations will be used. Be transparent about your programs, spending, and impact.
  • Focus your appeal on the community you serve. Tell individual stories of your nonprofit’s impact on beneficiaries rather than relying on statistics alone. This will resonate at the emotional level.
  • Push them to act with a specific, clear, and urgent call to action. Know your audience and craft calls to action that will motivate them. Include calls to action at the end of every appeal that direct readers to your donation page.

Need more tips? Check out our Tips & Tricks for Year-End Fundraising webinar for more effective ways to reach your fundraising goals.

4. Send strategically-timed emails.

The month of December is your supporters’ last call for giving. Send out frequent email appeals throughout the month, and ramp up the urgency as you get closer to the year’s end. 

To avoid overwhelming donors who have already given, use donor segmentation. Create a segment of donors who have already given to your year-end campaign in Bonterra’s Guided Fundraising solution, then leave those supporters out of future email blasts. 

Once a supporter makes a donation, send a thank-you email as soon as you can (within 24 hours is best practice). Write a genuine message of appreciation without asking for another donation, and your sincere note of gratitude will be remembered next year!

5. Share your donation page on social media every day.

Your nonprofit has plenty to post about at the end of the year. Share photos and memories of the work your donors have helped you accomplish over the past year. Build excitement around what you’re looking forward to in the year to come. Most importantly, show donors exactly how their gift helps further your purpose.

6. Track your year-end fundraising campaign results.

During your year-end campaign, frequently refer back to the goals you set at the beginning and use key performance indicators to check your campaign’s progress and effectiveness.

Tracking results isn’t just for internal reporting. Let your supporters know about the progress of your campaign throughout November and December. Send emails and create social media posts informing donors how close you are to your goal and how much their support matters.

Maximizing your year-end fundraising results

Use these tips to boost your year-end fundraising campaign with one final appeal that inspires donors to give. Plan as far in advance as possible, but if you need extra guidance during crunch time, check out the templates and samples in our Save over 40 hours of time writing this year-end webinar. These appeals will help close out your nonprofit’s year strong!

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