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Jocelyn Harmon 7 min read

Get Ready! Year-End Fundraising is No Joke for Nonprofits

My husband and I are ready to make our year-end donations.  We are poring over hundreds of mail pieces and gift catalogs we’ve stored up over the past few months. We’re also paying more attention to current email solicitations.  The result of our research and discussion will be 2 – 3 major gifts and some smaller gifts in honor of friends and families.

The good news is we’re not alone. 

According to 2010 Holiday Giving: Research and Insights into the Most Charitable Time of the Year by Convio and Edge Research, 74% of adults plan to give this holiday season a total of $48 billion in donations. This includes $6 billion from online donations, an increase of more than 30% over last year.   

With cash like this at stake, nonprofits (that means you!) need to get ready, and fast! Year-end is no joke for charitable organizations.  Some nonprofits are projected to raise 30 – 40% of their entire budgets in the final 4 weeks of the year! 

Here are Convio’s tips for getting ready to capitalize on the generosity of consumers around the holiday season.  My advice is also sprinkled in!

-       Use all your channels.  Year-end is NOT a time to be operating in silos.  Donors don’t care if you work for the online, telemarketing, or direct mail department.  Instead of being channel-centric, be donor-centric.  In short, put the egos aside, fire on all cylinders and provide your donors with myriad ways to give.  This will help you attract more cash!  According to the Convio study, “72% of donors say that they will give through two or more channels.” 

-       Ask for big gifts online.  Repeat after me.  “Online is not just for small-dollar gifts.”  Don’t underestimate your donors.  Instead, be sure to provide ask strings that allow for and encourage “major,” i.e. $500, $1,000 gifts.  According to the Convio study, “high-dollar donors are as likely to give online (25% vs. 21% overall).  Online donors also intend to donate more than the average holiday giver ($378 vs. $281.).”

-       Be emotional.   Be sure to include photos in your appeals and write copy that is compelling and emotional. Regardless of what channels you use, crappy copy is crappy copy.  Thus, it’s critical to invest the time and effort to tell your most compelling stories about your work.  This means LOSING THE STATISTICS and instead, telling one story (per email) about an individual or furry friend who has benefitted from your work.  According to the Convio’s research, “donors say they are moved by appeals that focus on humans, animals or places in need of help.”

-       Don’t call in sick on December 28th, 29th, 30th or 31st!  According to Marc Cannon, VP of Services for Convio, “In reviewing giving data and patterns for 2009, we found that response rates for email sent on December 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st of 2009 were virtually equivalent. The data shows that reaching out to people driven by the year-end deadline is effective at any point in the last four days of the year. In short, don’t give up on year-end too early.  Also, be sure to send your appeals during office hours; people give at work.  In fact, try to be in the in-box first thing in the morning when folks are still enjoying that first cup of coffee.

Want more tactical advice on what you can do NOW to get ready for year-end?  Register today for Care2’s FREE webinar – The Procrastinator’s Guide to 2010 Year-End Fundraising on December 9th from 2:00 – 3:00pm.

Good luck!