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Fundraising Tips for the Last Two Months of the Year

We’re in the home stretch, friends! We’re in the final two months of the year and we’re ramping up for the busiest part of the giving season. If you’ve found yourself here thinking – well what do I do to raise money? – you’ve come to the right place.

A few months ago, I was honored to be a guest on the podcast Social Entrepreneur with Nathan A. Webster (you can check out the recording here). Nathan and I had such a good time that he invited me back to talk about five tips of things to do before the year wraps up. Here’s the link for the new one: 5 Fundraising Tips for Q4. Because I have your back, I’ve written up some notes from what we talked about.

Let’s get into it!

  1. Think of a story that illustrates your impact.
    1. We’re all emotional creatures, and we love a good story. It’s a great way to draw people in and show your impact without telling them what you do with tons of jargon and fluff. In this story, try to get as specific as possible, describing the people involved and using descriptive language about the setting and the feelings. Show, don’t tell!
    2. You can use this story everywhere, whether in mail, email, social media, or even in person. You might feel like you’re telling the story over and over, but you won’t oversaturate your donors – your donors only hear a fraction of your messages, and will pay attention to even a smaller portion than that.
  2. Tell your story & communicate it out.
    1. If you have the capacity, send out a mail appeal. You can stick with a simple letter and donation envelope. Mail it out to donors from the past three years, and if you have the time, you can segment the list more and send more targeted communications.
    2. Definitely make time, however, to focus on electronic communications, email and social media. A few email tips: keep your email as simple as possible, from the subject to the text inside. Make it very obvious what you’re asking for in the email. Make sure the donation request is above the fold; while many people are accessing their email on their phone, it’s still important. Speaking of the phone, make sure your website is both ready to go and mobile friendly.
  3. Use Giving Tuesday.
    1. Giving Tuesday is an annual day of giving, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, as a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a fun day celebrating nonprofits and what they give to the community. Since we’re just a few weeks away, don’t spend too much time and energy on it – but at the very least, send out an e-blast with a donation button and post on social media (remember to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday!). If possible, find a donor or company who will match donations on that day.
    2. This is also a great day for a meme! Take an image from your organization (a cute animal, a beautiful outdoor setting, a cute kid) – and use language about impact, donating, feeling good, etc. Ask a young person if you need it! This is a fun way an intern or volunteer could help.
    3. Finally, check out their website at givingtuesday.org – it has tons of great resources.
  4. Use your board & other passionate volunteers.
    1. Ask your board to talk to their circles about the work your organization is doing. Make sure to send them details about your impact story so that they can tell the story themselves. Draft an email requesting donations that your board and other volunteers can send to their contacts.
    2. If there are a few extra passionate board members, have them follow up with donors who did not give their gift by the last two weeks of the year. If there are board members who are uncomfortable with asking, have them make some calls to say thank you.
  5. Say thank you!
    1. Make sure your acknowledgment letter template is ready and fits in with the message you set with your story. Try to get your thank you letters out as soon as possible. I’m not as much of a stickler to get them out 48 hours after receiving the donation, but sending them out within a week is ideal. Make sure your electronic acknowledgment message also reinforces your story.
    2. Try to have an attitude of gratitude while working with your donors. The end of the year can be a stressful time of year, and customer service is key in making sure donors have a positive experience with your organization.
    3. And extend that attitude of gratitude to yourself and the other staff or volunteers who are working tirelessly during this season. Saying a genuine thank you on a regular basis can mean a lot and make the work more enjoyable.

Speaking of saying thank you, thank you for the great work you’re doing. I hope you can take some of these tips and implement them to get your story out and raise plenty of money. Your cause is worth it, so it’s up to you to tell your donors and prospective donors all about how they can be part of it.

-N.C.

Why #GivingTuesday Is Important

 

Since you’re reading my blog, you probably already know what #GivingTuesday is. But in case you live under a rock (or are new here – welcome!), #GivingTuesday is a response to the consumerism of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday – a way to launch the upcoming giving season and celebrate the nonprofit organizations that make the world go ’round. You can learn more at the #GivingTuesday website here.

There have been a crop of critics to the #GivingTuesday movement, and they are actually coming from inside the philanthropic sector. This one, an opinion piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, is what finally caused me to write this post. The author’s post argues that there is no concrete evidence that #GivingTuesday actually increases giving. In actuality, although it might spur people to give, it might mean that they won’t give their gift another time of year. He believes that because of this, #GivingTuesday won’t “work.”

The author is being too short-sighted in determining what success would look like for #GivingTuesday. You can even look to the mission of #GivingTuesday to explain this:

#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.

While of course it would be good, I see nothing in that statement about increasing donations.

In fact, I would argue that the best part about #GivingTuesday is that the day’s conversation is about nonprofits, donations, and the change we wish to see in the world. While I whole heartedly believe in the nonprofit sector, I don’t believe that it has the respect it deserves amongst general society. The words philanthropy and donation simply aren’t uttered enough in the public eye. #GivingTuesday starts a global conversation about these important topics – it brings nonprofit organizations and philanthropy to the forefront – something that doesn’t happen often enough. The fact that we are talking about it at all is a win.

The author of that post said it himself:

I don’t think it will work. That’s not to say that I don’t think the idea will catch on. I think we’ll see a huge number of tweets and
Instagrams on Giving Tuesday. And I expect that the effort will grow each year. What I don’t think it will do is materially affect giving in any positive way.

I’d challenge him to think outside the box of what “affect giving” might mean.

-N.C.