Winning the Internet

Year-end fundraising tips

MoneyIt’s that time of the year again—fundraising time! Many organizations do about half of their fundraising during this part of the year, so this is definitely something worth spending time on. As you’re working on your appeals, here are a few tips to keep in mind to raise as much money as you can.

  • Plan!

    Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re going to do, what the content will be, etc. This is just too important. Start putting together a plan right now, and get feedback on it from co-workers or peers that have experience with online fundraising.
  • Focus on email

    Most organizations raise the most money from their email list (compared to social media followers, etc.), so focus your planning there. I definitely don’t want to discourage you from using social media—just make sure you have a solid email plan in place before you spend time on this.
  • Make sure your content follows e-appeal best practices
    In this case, good content equals real dollars, so keep the following in mind when writing your emails:

    • Use emotional, compelling stories
    • Include a strong ask (make sure readers know you’re asking for money)
    • Set a monetary goal and be clear about the deadline
    • Mention that their gift is tax deductible
    • Follow general email best practices (place the call to action above the fold, make the message easy to scan, etc.)
  • Use surround sound
    If you can, sync up your online and offline fundraising messages. When people see the same message in multiple formats they’re more likely to take action.
  • Prime your list in November

    In November, start warming up your list so they’ll be ready to give in December. Look for opportunities to share powerful stories and what your organization has accomplished this year. Many organizations choose to launch their first email on Black Friday.
  • Push hard in December

    Be ready to send a couple of emails with a strong ask in the last few days of the year, and make sure you send a final reminder on December 30th or 31st. This could go against your natural instinct to give people more time to donate, but it really works! People respond to a firm and imminent deadline. If you’re concerned about sending emails at this time because you’re going to be out of the office at this time, just write the emails in advance and schedule them to launch while you’re out.
  • Segment

    Try to make your appeals as relevant to your supporters’ lives as possible. For example, you may choose to send slightly different messages to different groups of supporters based on things like geography, interest, or donation history.
  • Test!

    If there was ever a time for subject line testing, it’s now! Perfecting a subject line could result in a very real difference in the amount of money you raise, so make time for it if at all possible. (Testing messages, calls to action, buttons, etc. is great too.) If you’re struggling to figure out how much money you’re raising from subject line A vs. subject line B, use two separate but identical donation pages to collect the money. This way you’ll know exactly how many dollars came from each message.

Follow these easy tips and take your year-end fundraising to the next level. If you’ve got any other great tips you’d like to share with our readers, please post them in the comments!


About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the New Media Program Director for Netroots Foundation and Lead Mentor for New Media Mentors. She aims to use her business school background and nonprofit experience to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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