FYI Blog

Best Practices for Year-end Giving

tjhillinger webIt bears repeating: Donors are paying attention and looking for last-minute giving opportunities at the end of the year (think: tax deductibility!). And although it’s a little late to get started on your year-end plan, here are some of the ways you can tweak your plan to maximize the year-end space.

To reap the most benefits from the year-end giving window, we suggest you make your approach truly integrated, with strategies for each channel that are applicable to your program: mail, phone, online, social, and on site.

Here’s what’s working for us:

Test timing. This one is easy — revisit your schedule to see if earlier/later mail and send dates might improve results, and then test to find out.

Digital. Be sure to upload a fresh splash page on your website that corresponds with your messaging across all channels. And don’t forget that digital asks can happen right up until midnight – just make sure your design is mobile-friendly, so donations can come in from wherever your donors are raising their glasses at midnight.

December 31. And speaking of New Year’s Eve, are you maximizing the last day of the year? This is — by far — the most productive date, so be sure to send an online appeal on December 31, and at a time that gives it the best chance to be seen. And consider sending twice – many organizations have had success with this approach, with the goal of staying at the top of the donor’s in-box.

Giving Tuesday. This event has been around for a couple of years now, and works for some organizations, but it’s important to evaluate last year’s results to see if it’s worth investing resources on that day again – December 2 this year.

Test formats. Keep pushing for better results by testing – just because you’ve always mailed a certain package at year end doesn’t mean an alternate can’t work better. Always mail a card in November and a letter in December? Then test flipping the order. Always mail a premium package in December? Perhaps a more mission-based approach could be more productive.

Sustainers. Add your sustainers to the mix for an extra, one-time gift. And test a sustainer ask at year end – the phone can be particularly effective for this effort.

Messaging. Just because it’s the end of the year, don’t abandon your message about your tangible needs. Like always, present a strong and compelling case for support. The exception to this rule is December 31, when “down and dirty” tends to do the trick.

Final reminders: Just when you think you’ve finished preparing for your year-end campaign, start working on a thank-you email for early January highlighting an accomplished goal or other organizational news. This works as a nice cultivation – especially following a hectic season filled with many asks. And be sure to include year-end donors in your first renewal in January – they typically perform well!