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The Ultimate Last-Minute Year-End Checklist and Guide for Nonprofits

December is a uniquely important time for organizations to engage with their members, donors, and volunteers and to raise money for programs in the coming year. Some nonprofits raise a quarter (or more) of their annual revenue in December. Your fundraising team will be hard at work crafting the most effective fundraising campaign to inspire your supporters to make year-end donations. There’s also a lot of demands on your supporters and donors, who will likely receive fundraising appeals from numerous charitable causes that they’re connected to.

If you’re ready to roll into December fundraising, use this checklist to make sure that you haven’t missed or overlooked any key elements that will boost your campaign’s success. This article focuses on last minute ideas that you can use to enhance your campaign, reach more supporters, and supercharge your fundraising.

Resend to Non-Openers on the Last Three Days of the Year

So much of year-end fundraising is about simple persistence, especially when you’re competing against many other good causes. For email appeals, that means resending emails to people who haven’t yet opened your messages. Wait a day or two, pull a report of who opened the message the first time, and suppress them from your resend. Yes, there is always a risk of over-messaging, so be sure to change the subject line.

You might also pick a different time to send, such as very early in the morning, in the late evening, or on the weekend, all in the name of standing out to get noticed—and opened.

Add a Special Appeal for Monthly Giving

Year-end is traditionally the time for one-time gifts, but we know that donors are always in search of flexibility and options. Make sure you make the case for monthly giving, either in the body text or P.S. of your email message, and also on all your donation pages. This is one of the fastest growing segments of online fundraising, so jump on the bandwagon at year-end too. While monthly giving will reduce revenue in the short term, monthly donors will stay on your list longer, and have higher lifetime value as a donor.

Consider all the ways you can promote monthly giving during year- end, such as sending a special appeal to your recent donors, frequent givers, and multichannel donors (such as those who have already made a gift in the mail).

Another technique is to message your current monthly donors and ask them to increase their monthly giving amount or make a special one-time gift. Be sure to acknowledge them as current monthly donors and note their current giving level, so they’ll be informed about their giving level as they consider their giving options.

Message Your Giving Tuesday Donors with Another Appeal

For nonprofits that did a fundraising campaign during Giving Tuesday, consider reaching out to these donors and asking for a special year-end gift. This is a great time to use a special challenge match from a community partnership or business sponsorship to help empower this effort.

Keep Sending Appeals to People Who Have Already Donated

We go to great lengths to avoid sending appeals to people who have already donated to our campaigns. But year-end is a great time to keep including recent donors, especially if you have a dollar-for- dollar match. Include a sentence recognizing and appreciating their gift, and many donors will be motivated to give again, or to spread the word via social media with friends, family and co-workers.

Ask Your Donors to Tell Their Friends and Family

Donors feel great after they make a donation to a cause that they care about. That’s what charitable giving is all about. Make it easy for your donors to share that feeling with friends and family by adding sharing options on your website “Thank You” page and also in the thank-you email/receipt that gets sent to each donor.

Add a Last-Minute Challenge Match

Your supporters, volunteers and donors love challenge matches because it’s a chance to have their gift go further. Seek out a challenge match from a local business or generous donor to encourage your supporters to make a last-minute gift. Focusing on a specific group of donors or coordinating with an event can also be useful strategies.

Add a Pop-Up Lightbox to the Highest Trafficked Pages on Your Website

Most nonprofit websites get a burst of visitor activity during the last two weeks of the year as supporters and donors check in with your organization. This is a good time to update your website with new content that aligns with your year-end messaging. This content might include a new featured article on your home page. If a donor receives a piece of postal mail from you and then visits your website, they should experience a smooth and coherent message through both channels.

Consider using a pop-up lightbox during your year-end fundraising campaign. Lightboxes are graphics that appear after a few seconds of visiting a website. They’re a surefire way to grab the eye of your website visitors and call attention to your year-end fundraising campaign. You can configure lightboxes to only show up in certain places, such as your most viewed pages and set them to show up only once per visit so that they don’t irritate your visitors. Consider creating a series of three or four lightboxes that can communicate urgency as you approach the Dec 31 year-end deadline.

Increase Your Messaging out on Social Media

You’re probably planning some social media messaging at year-end to promote your fundraising efforts, but you’re probably not planning enough. Recruit a social media volunteer team to create and share engaging content. Get creative with ways to promote your year-end campaigns, using graphics, thermometers, and thanking donors publicly (with their permission). If you’re using a video to promote your year-end fundraising campaign, be sure to use it frequently on your social media channels and ask your followers and fans to share the video. Don’t forget to track your social media click-through traffic to your donation pages.

Reach Out to Your Supporters with Text Messaging

If you’re collecting mobile phone numbers from your supporters, donors and volunteers, consider using text messaging to share out your fundraising appeals, inspiring graphics, videos and links to your donation page. Work with a text messaging vendor to help get this set up and be sure to set up tracking on the donation page you’re using to measure impact.

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