Preparing for Year-End Giving 2021: 4 Steps to Take Now

Preparing for Year-End Giving 2021: 4 Steps to Take Now

For many nonprofits, the end of the year is an important time for fundraising. Between Giving Tuesday and the holidays, potential donors are likely feeling more generous. Last year on Giving Tuesday, 34.8 million people donated an impressive total of $2.47 billion to nonprofits.

But with lots of organizations launching year-end fundraising campaigns, you don’t want your nonprofit to get lost in this busy giving season. How should you determine the most effective fundraising strategy? What is the best way to reach current donors? How might you attract new ones? 

To help you maneuver year-end giving, we’ve put together 4 tips that will not only prepare you for the end of the year but will also allow you to start 2022 strong. Here’s what you can do: 

  • Review your past performance
  • Invest in new giving tools
  • Make sure your website is ready to go
  • Forge new partnerships in advance

Over the past year and a half, the nonprofit sector has also learned a lot about navigating virtual fundraising challenges thanks to the pandemic. This busy season is the best time to apply all that you have learned in order to maximize donations. 

As you’re reading through our tips, you might consider setting some year-end fundraising goals to wrap up the year. Following these tips with a couple of goals in mind can keep you focused on relevant tasks. 

Ready to make the most out of year-end giving? Let’s dig a little deeper. 

Review your past performance. 

Here’s the good news: you already have almost a year’s worth of data about your fundraising performance since the last year-end giving season. With this information, you can get a better idea of which strategies worked and which ones didn’t. By the time that Giving Tuesday and the holidays are in full swing, you’ll already know the best methods for fundraising.

Study your database and ask yourself questions like: 

  • Which virtual fundraising strategies have worked well? You’ve been fundraising for the whole year, so you should have some ideas about which tactics have brought you the most revenue. 
  • Have our donors been more engaged with different types of campaigns, appeals, events, or marketing strategies than others? Successful campaigns from earlier in the year might be useful for an even busier season. Also, be sure not to repeat strategies that have proven ineffective.
  • How often have we actually asked for support? Sometimes, asking for help can fall outside of our comfort zones, but candidly asking for support is an easy way to show your donors that their contributions can help further your important mission.

Getting a fuller picture of your past year of fundraising can ensure that you use the strategies that have already proven to be the most successful and the most engaging for your unique donor base. Actively learning and adapting to both successes and shortcomings is a critical part of fundraising, so it’s especially important as high-volume seasons and campaigns begin.

Invest in new giving tools. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the past year, how might you boost your donations even further? Many nonprofits have adopted new tools over the course of the pandemic to better connect with donors virtually and to roll out new fundraising ideas. 

If you haven’t tried out one of these new tools yet, the busy year-end giving season might be a perfect time. Some examples include: 

  • Text-to-give tools: This modern fundraising method is a great way to engage younger donors or people on the go. Although text-to-give is a fairly recent addition to the nonprofit fundraising toolkit, it has proven very rewarding. Why? As the Snowball text-to-give guide explains, this method both makes it easy to donate and it’s easy for you to use. 
  • Virtual event software: Although the world has started to open up again, you might still want to host a virtual event to reach donors outside of your home base. A virtual event is a great way to drive donors to your nonprofit and to bring attention to your fundraising needs. 
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising software: Another effective and relatively new tool is peer-to-peer fundraising, which allows your donors to create their own fundraising pages for your nonprofit. Donors can share their pages online, which allows them to raise awareness about a cause they are passionate about and gets your nonprofit more attention.

Implementing just one of these new tools can increase engagement with your nonprofit in an accessible way. Making it as easy as possible to donate, especially during this busy season, will give your donors a smooth and straightforward way to contribute.

In case none of these strike your fancy, you can also check out these easy fundraising options for some additional ideas. 

Make sure your website is ready to go. 

Even if you launch a text-to-give campaign or host several virtual events, your website will likely still be your nonprofit’s central hub. Your emails, social media campaigns, text-to-give options, and other promotional materials should all direct donors back to your website. For this reason, you’ll want to be sure that your site is ready, especially before Giving Tuesday. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas:

  • Make big-picture changes, like CMS upgrades, if needed. Using your own CMS, or content management system, to centralize your fundraising efforts can help you raise more money faster while also giving you more direct performance insights. Some CMS examples include Squarespace and WordPress. 
  • Running a major campaign? Try creating a dedicated campaign page or microsite specific to your organization. This page can also be a great place to incorporate some branding materials. Explore this DNL OmniMedia guide to nonprofit branding for some examples. Establishing a recognizable and trustworthy brand image will make your nonprofit memorable to donors. 
  • Implement new engagement tools, like fundraising trackers, to keep your donors invested in the donation process. A fundraising tracker or thermometer is a fun visual representation of a campaign’s progress and an effective way to encourage more support. Plus, donors can check back in to track donations, which drives more traffic to your website. 
  • One final tip: don’t forget to check that the mobile version of your website is readable. Nowadays, many people access the Internet primarily through their phones. If your website is only built for a desktop version, potential donors might get frustrated if they cannot easily read your content on their mobile devices. 

The last thing you want is for a potential contributor to go to your website and not be able to find where to donate, be unsure if you’re the right organization, or not be able to access the site at all. Improving your website before this giving season gets busy can prevent these mishaps.

Forge new partnerships in advance. 

Preparing for a successful year-end giving season requires a bit of planning ahead. One of the best ways to take your end-of-year fundraising efforts to the next level is through corporate and community partnerships

More and more companies across the country are committing to forwarding the social good. A popular way in which businesses demonstrate their philanthropic support is through workplace giving, or when a company supports employees who financially contribute to nonprofits. 

One type of workplace giving is a matching gift program — companies agree to match donations made by their employees, essentially doubling their donation. Matching gift programs have shown to be very successful. For example, when they automated their matching gift program, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society increased their matched donation funding from $200,000 to $1 million in just 12 months. 

Partnering with a local business with something like a matching gift program could help forge these relationships and enhance your fundraising plans. For example, if you’ve already implemented or plan to use peer-to-peer fundraising for your year-end giving campaign, adding in workplace giving opportunities could boost revenue and your visibility in the community.

Becoming more involved in your community is another great way to raise awareness about your nonprofit and your cause. After all, your community is likely to benefit from your nonprofit’s work, so building and maintaining strong relationships is key. 

The year-end giving season is a crucial time for nonprofits. So, while you’ll likely see an increase in donations around the end of the year, following these 4 tips can ensure that you maximize your donations. Using previously successful strategies, incorporating new tools, improving your website, and creating new partnerships will help you finish 2021 strong and start the new year off right. 

Takeaway: Doing the work now to prepare for the end of the year can help your nonprofit flourish during this busy season.