IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR (FOR GIVING)!
As the end of the calendar year approaches, many charities are preparing to launch their year-end giving campaigns, which, in many cases, account for the lion’s share of their annual fundraising budget. In fact, studies continue to demonstrate that more than one-third of total annual giving takes place in the last three months of the year, with the highest percentage – 17.5 percent – coming in December (Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report). While the traditional annual campaign is still “king” at most local Ys, it is imperative – from both a fundraising and awareness standpoint – that local Ys begin to develop and execute effective plans to capitalize on year-end giving opportunities. Thankfully, the opportunities for year-end giving engagement are as diverse and plentiful as our local Ys.
The key here is to start somewhere. Do what makes sense for your Y. But do it with concrete goals and a comprehensive plan. What follows are my top ten tips, suggestions and ideas from local Ys and philanthropy experts, to help you in planning for a successful year-end giving season:
- Use National Philanthropy Day – November 15 – as an opportunity to kick off your year-end giving season while providing valuable recognition for your key donors and volunteers. Established by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, National Philanthropy Day (NPD) is a celebration of philanthropy – giving, volunteerism and charitable engagement – that highlights the accomplishments, large and small, that philanthropy – and all those involved in the philanthropic process – makes to our society and our world (Association of Fundraising Professionals). NPD presents a great opportunity for donor and volunteer stewardship, and can serve as a primer for making an ask at year-end. For more information, visit www.npdlove.com
Tips 2-5 apply to general year-end giving, as well as #GivingTuesday, a global movement designed to inspire people to give back by supporting their favorite charities. Established in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday has grown tremendously in a three-year period, engaging 2,500 non-profits and raising $13.5 million in 2012, to engaging more than 15,000 charities and raising $45.7 million in 2014 (visit www.givingtuesday.org for more information).
As #GivingTuesday lives primarily in the digital space, the movement has inspired a huge increase in online giving during this single day of giving, which brings us to our next tip:
- Get your websites in order! Online giving on #GivingTuesday has grown 93 percent in a two-year period and mobile giving doubled last year (Campbell & Company) but whether you’re soliciting donations on #GivingTuesday or not, make sure that your website and online giving platform are up to date, simple to use, and provide a clear direction for prospective donors to find you and make a gift. Give philanthropy some prime real estate on your website (and on your branch sites and program pages), with a clear call to action and a visible “Donate Now” button.
- Determine your goals and objectives. Don’t just participate in #GivingTuesday because everyone else is doing it. Think strategically and determine what you want to accomplish. Your goals may not be all about dollars and cents. #GivingTuesday presents a great opportunity to engage staff, volunteers, donors and other ambassadors to share you Y’s story.
- Define the audiences you wish to reach. Who do you plan to engage in your year-end giving campaign? Current donors? Prospective donors? Program participants? Members who aren’t currently giving? Whether it’s one or all of the above, your plan should include strategies to reach each group. This can be done online with e-newsletters, or by using “snail mail,” but be sure to tailor your message accordingly.
- Create compelling content, in advance, to connect with current and prospective supporters on an emotional level, and inspire them to give. Jen Harman, Director of Donor Marketing & Communications with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte shared her Y’s social media content calendar on a recent Y-USA webinar. The Charlotte Y’s year-end giving campaign has grown over the past four years, with expanded focus on a number of key target groups, including members, donors and lapsed donors. “It’s important to consider key stories and messaging ahead of time,” shares Harman. “Our calendar starts with National Philanthropy Day and continues through January 31, so it’s much easier to plan it out ahead of time so that we can focus on communicating with and stewarding our donors at year-end.”
The next four tips are adapted from Gail Perry (www.gailperry.com), who recently published her “Top Five Tips for a Profitable Year-End Campaign.”
- Say “thank you” first. In the next 40 days, prior to National Philanthropy, rally your volunteers and staff to help you show gratitude to your donors. Make it fun by gathering groups for “thank-a-thons” aimed at not only thanking donors, but having meaningful conversations about why they give.
- Prime your donors before you ask. In addition to saying thank you, let your donors know that you’re getting ready for your year-end campaign. Via phone, e-mail or mailed letters and postcards, generate excitement by sharing stories of the people you’re impacting and make the emotional connection.
- Create a multi-channel campaign. Connect with your donors multiple times with compelling stories and appeals that carry a specific theme and design, perhaps using the new Y-USA Nationwide Campaign materials, located on the Brand Resource Center. It may take multiple hits to get their attention!
- Include a specific ask. When you engage your donors, let them know what you want to accomplish, what you need to raise to make it a reality, and how their support will help. Ask for a specific amount whenever appropriate, and be sure to connect it to the people you serve.
- Our tenth and final tip is to START SOMEWHERE! Virtually all charities are asking at year-end, and it is imperative that YMCAs become a part of the conversation. Don’t leave money on the table. Your members and donors are likely making gifts to other charities, so it’s important to remind them that the Y is an option for their charitable giving.
There is no shortage of resources to support you with year-end giving, and we’ve included some below. We wish you a healthy, happy and profitable year-end giving season!
For #GivingTuesday: For general year-end giving:
add content here
add content here
add content here