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November 2, 2016

How to Make Giving Days Work for Your Year-End Fundraising Strategy

As more and more nonprofits jump on the bandwagon of year-end giving days like #Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives Day, both organizations and their donors are energized.

There is a ton of excitement around these days.  Events are planned, postcards are sent, and online fundraising campaigns are born.

But as great as giving days are, we have to remember that there is something else going on this time of year.  It’s the giving season, and for generations people have given this time of year to charities.  CO Gives Day, #Giving Tuesday, and any other giving day can’t replace that tradition.

Weaving together the long-held tradition of year-end appeals with giving days can be tricky. But we’ve seen many nonprofits navigate these waters and use giving days to move their own fundraising strategy ahead.

Here’s how you can do it, too:

  1. Have an overall strategy for year-end:  What are you trying to accomplish this year?  Is your focus on building retention?  Getting new donors?  Motivating volunteer fundraisers?  What are your objectives?
  2. Create a year-end appeal that fits into that strategy: Create your own over-arching campaign that has a theme and key messages that are tailored for your target audiences and objectives.
  3. See how your giving day fits into that overall strategy:  The giving day isn’t the strategy, it’s one channel to help you accomplish your goals.  If your focus is on getting new donors, how can you design a strategy for #Giving Tuesday that reaches a new audience?
  4. Use what you already have in place:  If you have an e-newsletter or an online e-blast system, send out news about the giving day, but don’t make it all you send out.  It’s not the only option you give donors, but it’s one way they have to give.  If you have volunteers that want to organize a house party or an event, see if aligns with the giving day objectives and see if it works to combine the two.
  5. Create better thank yous:  Use the urgency and the competition of giving days to improve your acknowledgement systems. You’ll want to report back immediately to donors about the amount of money that was raised and what impact those funds will have on the world.
  6. Get better at welcoming donors: It’s key and crucial that you welcome new giving days donors into your organization.  They aren’t just Colorado Gives Day or #Giving Tuesday  donors – they are donors to your great cause.  Make them feel a part of it with a welcome letter or e-mail that includes ways they can get involved.
  7. Know your data: The great thing about giving days is that you can easily track progress from year to year both in terms of your dollars raised and donor participation. While your efforts to promote it may change from year to year, the giving opportunity itself doesn’t really, so you can compare from year-to-year to see what worked. Did the giving day actually improve your year-end results?

How does your fundraising plan take advantage of the momentum of giving days?  Are you making sure that it fits into your overall strategy?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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