Sifting through the aftermath of Digital Year-end 2014, the clearest pattern to emerge is that it wasn’t a year of dramatic changes. Nonprofits came around to implementing best practices—forgoing the shiny and new to capitalize on year-end giving with the strategies they knew would work: cleaning and building their lists before year end, either through appends or list buys; implementing lightboxes that seemed to work quite well for most organizations; segmenting based on donor behavior (not just giving, but also filtering out non-responsive people, or non-openers).
There were a handful of Avalon clients that were unable to implement matching gifts this year, when they had reliably used them in the past. As we predicted, the lack of a matching gift had a negative impact on results compared to prior years, which pointed to some potential issues with Development departments and their planning or constricting of gifts. (See Allison Porter’s thoughts on the win-win nature of matching gifts here.)
So far, we’ve seen our clients exceed last year’s year-end totals—some because of new strategy, some because of increased email sends. In addition to December activity, we ensured that our clients got in on the Giving Tuesday phenomenon, but we employed it as a kick-off to their year-end campaigns, vocalizing a substantial case for support, rather than simply asking donors to give because it was Giving Tuesday.Finally, there were a handful of clients on Blackbaud/Convio Luminate that experienced delays in their email sends on 12/31, causing some to cut emails planned for late in the day for fear they wouldn’t be delivered before the 12/31 midnight deadline. There’s no way to quantify the impact of this glitch (and Blackbaud has been pretty mum on what happened), but it definitely made a difference, especially for organizations that had scheduled and queued up their sends early, in order to get a good place in line—so to speak—so their campaigns would go out on time.
In the end, Avalon’s take is that volume was still up, institutional and tried-and-true messaging was prevalent, and matching gift offers still reigned supreme. And although January is traditionally a time to rest your donors a bit, it’s also a great time to get them geared up for the year ahead. Because it’s never too early to start planning for year-end 2015—especially when it comes to securing that matching gift challenge money from your higher-dollar donors!
To leave you with a little food for thought, here are some recaps by Steve McLaughlin at npENGAGE that I found useful:
400 More Email Subject Lines from End of Year Fundraising (shows volume, subject line trends)
5 things that won’t happen in 2015: