FYI Blog

Maximizing Your Year-end Harvest

Calendar from Pres
Barb-PerellNow is the best time to finalize your year-end fundraising planning. Donors pay more attention at the end of the year, and they’re looking for last-minute giving opportunities (think: tax deductibility!).
To reap the most benefits from the year-end giving window, we suggest you make your approach truly integrated, with strategies for each channel that are applicable to your program: mail, phone, online, social, and on-site.
Below we revisit some suggestions for your year-end giving plan, to maximize the always-fruitful year-end space:
Test timing. This one is easy: Review your schedule to see if earlier/later mail and send dates might improve results — and then test to find out.
Test formats. Just because you’ve always mailed a certain package at year end doesn’t mean an alternate wouldn’t work better. Do you always mail a card in November and a letter in December? Test flipping the order. Always mail a premium package in December? Perhaps a more mission-based approach could be more productive. Keep pushing for better results by testing formats.
Digital. Be sure to upload a fresh splash page on your website that corresponds with your messaging across all channels. And don’t forget that digital asks can happen right up until midnight, December 31 — just make sure your design is mobile-friendly, so donations can come in from wherever your donors are raising their glasses at midnight.
December 31. And speaking of New Year’s Eve, are you maximizing the last day of the year? This is by far the most productive date, so be sure to send an online appeal on December 31, and at a time that gives it the best chance to be seen. And consider sending twice — many organizations have successfully used this approach to stay at the top of the donor’s in-box.
Giving Tuesday. Now in its fifth year, this day has gotten a lot of hype and it’s important for organizations to participate. But it’s just one day and should be incorporated into your overall year-end strategy. And note that Giving Tuesday feels early this year — November 29 — so make sure you are ready to capitalize on the increased giving this day promotes.
Sustainers. Add your sustainers to the appeals mix for an extra, one-time gift. And test a sustainer ask at year-end—the phone can be a particularly effective channel for this effort.
Messaging. Just because it’s the end of the year, don’t abandon your message about your tangible needs. Always present a strong and compelling case for support. The exception to this rule is December 31, when “down and dirty” tends to do the trick.
Final reminders: When you’ve finished preparing for your year-end campaign, start working on a thank-you email for early January highlighting a goal you accomplished thanks to donor support or other organizational news. This works as a nice cultivation, especially following a hectic season filled with many asks. And be sure to include year-end donors in your first renewal in January — they typically perform well!