Stand out from the crowd with your year-end fundraising strategy

#GivingTuesday, annual reports, holiday cards, year-end appeals, emails, social media, newsletters… It’s all a bit confusing for even the most experienced fundraising professional. Which methods of communication do you use and how do you avoid getting lost in the shuffle and ensure you meet your fundraising goal? I believe a two-step year-end fundraising approach is most successful.

Step 1

Send out your nonprofit annual report in the fall (if your fiscal year does not make a fall annual report feasible, consider a fall newsletter instead). While financial reports and statistics are important, it is the stories of impact that you provide to the community that your donors care about most. Focus on that. Donors also want to know that they played a role in that impact. Consider your annual report a big thank you to your donors. Say it, repeat it and say it again. Your donors could just as easily support another charity if they feel you do not appreciate their gifts.

Step 2

Send a strong direct appeal to donors roughly one month after the annual report. Again, impact is key. Don’t focus on everything you do, focus on one story that demonstrates why your organization is important. For example, a human service nonprofit might focus on the story of an individual or family served. A school might focus on a student success story. Find a story that speaks to your mission.

Make it multi-channel

The greatest appeal in the world is useless if no one sees it. Although direct mail is still a critical component, don’t make the mistake of only mailing your report and appeal. A multi-channel approach is key to making sure donors see the appeal. Effective strategy includes a series of emails to donors with the same message and design elements of the mailed pieces. In 2017, social media outreach is also a critical element. Consider #GivingTuesday as the date to kick off your social media posts for year end. Phone calls and face-to-face meetings are also a critical piece of an effective year-end strategy to ensure higher level donors are compelled to give. Create a calendar for each element and stick to it.

It’s all in the details

Once you have gathered stories and data, pay attention to the details to ensure your year-end fundraising effort does not fall flat. Even the best implemented strategy can still fail if you do not package your pieces in a way that entices the donor to open and read. Unique shapes, finishes and subject lines will increase open rates. Use pictures that tell the story.

Not sure where to begin? There is still time to make your year-end appeal a success. Send me a message and let me know how I can help.

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Anna Patty

Anna is a Fundraising Consultant, Graphic/Web Designer, Marketing Strategist, Media Relations Professional and Event Planner. Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa with degrees in Journalism and Spanish and has spent over a decade creating strategic and cost-effective strategies for organizations looking to grow their missions. She and her husband, Sean, have four very energetic kids, two boys and two girls.

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