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3 Steps to a Successful End of Year Appeal

Lisa Tarshis
July 6, 2021

It’s July. The sun is shining, we’re wearing sandals and we’re soaking up every minute that summer has to offer. For many of us, December and end of year is that farthest thing on our minds. And while I don’t want to pull you out of the summer bliss, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to start preparing for your end of year campaign. 

You likely already know the importance of end of year giving. Here are a few of my favorite stats:

  • 30% of annual giving happens in December (based on the 2020 Giving USA data, this means approximately $98.9B will be given away in December) 
  • 12% of all giving happens in the last 3 days of the calendar year
  • 2X – volunteers are twice as likely to donate as non-volunteers
  • 60% of nonprofits include 1-3 touchpoints in the end of year campaign

For many organizations, their end of year appeal accounts for a large portion of their budget. In fact, roughly 30% of nonprofits raise between 26 and 50% of their annual budget through their end of year appeal.

Ok, enough stats! The stakes are high. The reward has the potential to be higher. The question becomes, how do we capitalize on this? Here are the 3 steps we recommend taking right now (ok, fine, wait until you are done reading the article) to set your end of year campaign up for success.

  1. Create a plan

Those of you who follow me know that I’m a BIG planner! As author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy says, every minute you spend planning, saves 10 minutes in execution which is a 1,000% return on your investment. Carve out an hour to plan your end of year appeal. That one hour of planning will save you 600 minutes or 10 hours. It will also give you clarity and peace of mind. Here are some items to include in your plan:

  • Think about all of the different pieces that need to happen as part of your end of year appeal and when you will get them done. 
  • Determine who on your team will be responsible for making the different pieces happen and when they will get done. 
  • Begin to think about the messaging and any collateral you need to collect.
  • Consider if and how you want to include your volunteers. 
  • Put together a high-level budget (or make sure that you know the costs associated with what you want to do and that you have the funds in your budget to support those costs).

Check out today’s freebie for a timeline you can use in creating your plan. 

  1. Begin getting your data in order

Do you have a stack of returned mail that you’ve been meaning to update in your database? Do you have new program participants, volunteers or other constituents that need to be added to your list? I often find that data upkeep projects fall to the bottom of the list. After all, they aren’t usually urgent and we have a lot on our plates. We can continue to push these off and find ourselves in a pinch when we’re ready to pull a list for our end of year appeal, or we can start tackling them now, over the summer, so that this becomes one less thing to fit in later. I suggest making a list of the data projects that need to happen before you can send your end of year appeal and knocking them off one at a time over the coming weeks. 

  1. Begin thinking about your call to action and make sure you have the appropriate technology to support that

Online giving was up 20% in 2020. Organizations with annual fundraising between $1M and $10M saw an average increase of 24.9% in online giving and small nonprofits with annual fundraising of less than $1M saw an average increase in online giving of 22.3%. 

You’ll want to have a way for your donors to give online. And you’ll want that experience to be user friendly and easy to complete. Remember, we live in a world of ApplePay, GooglePay, Venmo and more. It’s never been easier to pay for something, yet many nonprofits make donors jump through hoops to donate. Now is the time to think about your online giving platform. Do you have one? Can you easily accept donations? Can you customize the form so that it’s branded for the campaign and visually appealing? If you’re asking people to support something specific, can you customize the form to match the ask you are making? If you’re going to be stressing a monthly giving campaign, are you setup for people to make recurring donations? 

If you don’t currently have the ability to collect donations in a way that supports the call to action you’ll be making, now is the time to explore your options, choose a vendor and set up a system that will support what you want to achieve. 

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing additional tips and tricks so that you can knock your end of appeal out of the park. In the meantime, don’t forget to download today’s freebie – we’re sharing a timeline that we’ve used time and time again with clients so that they can create a plan that will set their end of year appeal up for maximum success.