FYI Blog

Online Fundraising Year-end Review

As we continue to draw conclusions from Avalon clients’ online fundraising year-end results, here are some overall impressions:

  • For the most part, year-end online revenue is up over last year for our clients, with the majority meeting their year-end campaign budgets. Something to keep in mind when planning for next year: a full 40-50% of year-end revenue comes in on December 30 and 31— so plan a last-minute, last-ditch e-appeal!
  • Open rates are down for some clients, because inboxes are crowded. Every marketer is trying to take advantage of the year-end time slot, so recipients have much to sift through. So do what you can to make it through the filter — make sure your email has a compelling subject line and substance when the recipient opens it.
  • There’s been a lot of talk about year-end online fundraising being too over the top and similar across organizations (see the recent Agitator post on this topic). But the alternative can’t be to forgo the year-end ask. We’ve consistently found that trying a new approach to stand out in donors’ inboxes just doesn’t work as well as the tried-and-true year-end format. Case in point: early reports on our clients’ year-end campaigns all show increases over last year. The inbox is just so saturated with similar subject lines and matching gifts, but you’ve got to be in that mix, or you’ll miss out on the window of time when many organizations raise a good chunk of their annual online revenue! Perhaps the answer is more tailored segmentation to really break through? Always something to test next year…
  • In results to date, average gifts and response rates were up for some organizations, down for others — no clear, overarching trend here.
  • Confirmed:  overlays, splash pages, and lightboxes still tend to generate a hefty percentage of year-end revenue for our clients. Just make sure they’re integrated with your other communications channels and donor outreach.
  • Many organizations increased the number of e-appeals they sent – with some sending as many as eight efforts right up to the end of the year. In fact, more organizations sent two emails on December 31 — one in the morning, and one later in the day.
  • Of course, we know we can count on heavy giving at year end, but it’s important not to neglect the rest of the year. Keep donors and activists engaged and involved by spreading your cultivation and fundraising throughout the year.