Non-Profits: 7 Marketing Tips to Engage Donors for Year-End Giving

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‘Tis the season for end of year giving. As the year ticks to a close, non-profits know that donors open their wallets. Securing end-of-year giving is critical to start next year off on the right foot. It’s the most generous time of year for many donors who are eager to give before they close out this year’s taxes.

Use these 7 marketing tactics to reach out to your donors and ensure you make their “nice list” this year-end giving season.

1. Make a Personal Connection

Engage your donors with campaigns that speak to them. Warm fuzzies are big: you’re looking to make them feel important, connected and involved. Let each donor know their gift has made your holiday season special and how their donation will help make next year great, too. Be sure to let them know EVERY GIFT COUNTS, from the platinum supporters to those who can only afford a small gift.

2. Don’t Wait…Reach Out NOW

To make your end-of-year giving plan a success, reach out to donors NOW. Give them a chance to donate on #GivingTuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). Help your donors realize WHY your non-profit is a great spot for their end-of-year donations. Focus on holiday giving (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, etc.) and give it to them straight: it’s a perfect moment for your donors to continue to support your organization, return if their donations have lapsed, or start to give for the first time.

3. Social & Email Marketing are Your Friends

Every great marketing plan starts with raising awareness and promotion, before you start your campaign for consideration. Reach out to your potential donors, lapsed donors, friends and followers on social media. Increase your tweets, posts, emails and points of contact.

NOW is the time to launch your targeted email marketing campaign. Touch donors and constituents with emails providing helpful tips, interesting facts and useful information, and engage them with stories and wrap them in the mission of your organization. A weekly or bi-weekly email will ensure your donors feel reconnected but not overloaded. Supplement your email campaign with robust social media posts. Automate your posts, if you must, so you can manage the frequency, but carefully monitor as well.

4. Don’t Rule Out Direct Mail

Should you go the direct mail route, keep on top of industry best practices and use them at your disposal so your letters and mail pieces really stand out. All mail should be brand-consistent, catchy and capture a story or convey a message to your donors right away. Show them how necessary those end-of-year dollars are and tell them exactly how you plan to steward their gift and put it to good use.

5. Ensure Your Website is User-Friendly

It is absolutely critical your website is user-friendly with a BIG donation button, especially during this busy season.

If a potential donor stumbles onto your site from your Facebook post, your Twitter feed, or through a link in your email campaign, you must make it crystal clear and convenient for them to donate.

Read more: End the Year with a Bang: 5 Ways to Rock Your Non-Profit Donation Page.

Your website should have a clear call-to-action. This is where engagement and acquisition take place. Offer multiple convenient ways for your donors to give. Consider PayPal, credit cards and any other methods you can promote to make it easier and faster to make gifts. You should include your call to action in every post, every email and in your direct mail campaign.

6. Your Stories are the #1 KEY to More Donations

Your site should be consistent with your brand, tell your non-profit’s stories and showcase all the great ways you serve your community. Use video, photos, quotes and testimonials that warm the heart and connect. Stories that reflect your mission, vision and values make strong and powerful cases for support. Our brains are hard-wired to respond to stories—especially when we’re charity-focused and thinking of goodwill towards mankind.

7. Love & Appreciate Your Donors

When a donor takes the time to give to your organization, they should feel like Bruce Wayne, Bill Gates, and Oprah all rolled into one. Even if it’s a small gift, every donor needs to know that the time they took to give was noticed and appreciated. Repeat donations happen because the giver feels they were acknowledged and sees the impact of their donation.

Retention should be a major part of your end-of-year plan. Don’t put it off until January. Keep those donors! Thank them for their one-time gift and offer them the chance to make it a gift all year long. For some donors, a thousand dollar one-time gift seems daunting, but an $83 gift each month is much easier to manage. Give your donor easy ways to repeat their performance and give again and again.

Create opportunities for advocacy with your message. Never underestimate the power of a hand-written thank you, a phone call from a board member or even a personalized email. Include a story about the impact that the donor’s gift has had on your organization and how you couldn’t accomplish your goals and achieve without it. Tell your donors all the ways their gift keeps on giving.

With a little time and attention you can rock your year-end giving campaign. Keep yourself focused on the stages of marketing: awareness, consideration, acquisition, retention and advocacy. We call it Growth Cycle Marketing and it’s just as critical for non-profits as it is in the for-profit world. Keep your message mission-focused and use an organized strategic plan to ensure your end-of-year giving campaigns are successful!

 

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Growth Cycle Marketing: A proven process for growing and attracting more customersToday, the decision to donate is no longer a moment–it’s a process. Are you truly connecting with your donors? Are you engaging with your donors before, during, and even after they donate?

Not sure? You need to know HOW…now. Get a jump start by downloading our FREE White Paper on Growth Cycle Marketing.

You’ll learn:
  • 14 ways to engage your donors and nab that next donation
  • How to influence your donor’s decision to donate
  • Why your current donors are your organization’s biggest asset
  • The exact type of content your donors want
  • How this proven, 5-stage process attracts new donors and grows your donation pot

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End the Year with a Bang: 5 Ways to Rock Your Non-Profit Donation Page

Ah, New Year’s Eve: time to reflect, celebrate, and roll in the new. For non-profits, the New Year often signifies the end of one of the most lucrative donation seasons.

End the Year with a Bang: 5 Ways to Rock Your Non-Profit Donation Page

So NOW is the time to maximize your potential donations by creating irresistible donation pages your donors can’t miss and can’t resist. Here’s how…

1. Add Crystal Clear Donation Buttons

The WORST thing that can happen to a potential donor? Literally getting lost when they visit your website. Even if you offer great content and excellent resources, it won’t matter one bit if your donor can’t find that donate button.

Donation buttons should be prevalent on your homepage, not hiding in a corner or behind a tab. Include big, clear bells, whistles and arrows pointing donors to the right place—but not so many bells and whistles (or banners, pop-ups and confusing distractions) that your donors get distracted by something shiny, then click away from your donation page, entirely forgetting to donate.

Offer no more than four dollar amounts and a write-in: $5, $10, $15, or more, for example. Assign each amount to its impact: “Your gift of $X today will allow us to provide Y for Z.”

Avoid vague language on your donation button, such as “Friends” or “Supporters.” Polite non-profits often feel brash saying “GIVE US YOUR MONEY,” but don’t hold back.

Your best button word? DONATE. Test your site with a few fresh eyes to ensure any visitor can quickly find the donation button in a few seconds.

2. Offer Easy-Peasy Donation Methods

Don’t make your donors jump through hoops. If donations require more than two clicks, you’re going to lose your donor.It may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure your donation page allows your donors to give easily and quickly. Nothing sours a charitable mood quite like wading through a page that takes forever to load, shows signs of sketchy security, or requires your donor to fill out a tedious form or go through a lengthy login process just to make a simple donation.

Don’t make your donors jump through hoops. If donations require more than two clicks, you’re going to lose your donor.

Many vendors, including Square and BluePay work with non-profits for low rates or no extra fees, allowing your organization to accept donations easily and securely. Consider offering PayPal as a familiar, secure and simple payment method. Check with your local credit union—oftentimes they’ll work with your non-profit to set up an EFT system.

Thank your donors with one clear, simple email acknowledgement. Don’t clog up their inbox or your donor might get in the habit of ignoring your future correspondence—or worse, flagging your emails as spam.

3. Tell Your Story

Your donation page should be simple. Reach into your elevator pitch bag and pull out your most poignant, shortest story that clearly sums up your mission. Help your donor quickly realize why their donation is so vital. Save your novel for your annual report.

Include strong, clear photos on your donation page to help your donor envision the population they’re backing. Choose a few powerful images so your supporters feel like the superheroes they are.

4. Craft Can’t-Miss Calls-to-Action

Always end your donation page story or request with a strong call to action. For example, “Help us today,” or “Your gift today helps us reach our goal of sponsoring XX students in 2015. Donate today.” Be sure donors understand your urgent need for their gift. Many a gift has been put off for a rainy day and forgotten. You need donors to click now.

Try including a progress meter illustrating how each donation contributes to reaching your overall goal. Crowdfunding sites such as Fundly, GoFundMe and others use this tactic, as it often pushes donors to dig deeper and give that little bit extra to help meet the target.

5. Keep Your Bottom Line in Mind

Maybe you have several important needs and you think donors may feel stronger about one aspect of your organization than another. For example, a disaster relief organization may offer the option to give to the overall fund or just to a recent mission.

Providing this option can help donors feel they have more control over where their money will be allocated.

However, for most non-profits, your entire mission is important. Many non-profits operate on a shoestring, so you don’t want to filter too much money to only support one shoe. Limit donor choices to one “special” option if you really feel it’s driving donor traffic to your site. Offer too many choices and you’re creating a nightmare for your accounting team, plus you may actually cause deficits in other areas of your organization.

Consider encouraging donors to donate to your organization as a whole, then let them know ALL of the great ways their gifts will further your mission. Helping donors focus on the big picture helps you keep an eye on your bottom line and gives you the ability to allocate funds to areas with the greatest need.

Use these smart donation strategies for your non-profit donation pages and you’ll be ringing in the New Year in a celebratory mood, knowing you’ve maximized your year-end donation potential!

Turn Your Nonprofit’s Stories into Best Sellers

When fundraising for your nonprofit, a compelling story is critical for engaging donors and generating support for your cause.

How can your nonprofit most effectively tell YOUR stories and land more BIG donations?

6 Keys to a Donation-Inspiring Story

Here’s how to ensure every single one of your nonprofit’s stories really hits home with your donors. Your nonprofit’s stories should be:

  1. Emotional, compelling, specific, and interesting
  2. Focused on the needs of the population-served, rather than the needs of the organization itself
  3. Contain elements of good storytelling, including background, protagonist, and conflict
  4. Be brief, but engaging
  5. Be outcome-based
  6. End with a call to action or a resolution

That last one is key: Stories on the web should always include a call-to-action button, offering donors a way to help NOW, at the very moment they’re most inspired by your organization’s stories.

Let’s go over a generic example…

Which Story is More Compelling?

Turn Your Nonprofit’s Stories into Best Sellers“Happy Tails shelter feeds and cares for hundreds of dogs, but needs more funding. Many of the dogs need veterinary care and expensive treatment; plus, we need to cover costs incurred for shelter, food and staff. The building is very old and falling apart. Generous donations can help save many more dogs and keep the shelter doors open.”

–OR–

“Bailey, this tiny Maltese, was found in an abandoned lot—cold, alone and terrified. Our Happy Tails volunteers lured him out with gentle coaxing and bites of cheeseburger. It was obvious the little dog had been hit by a car. Through our benevolent donors, we were able to repair Bailey’s leg and help him find a family to love him forever. Donations like yours give animals like Bailey a second chance. Last year we found homes for 230 animals like Bailey, but there are still many more animals to save. Won’t you help today?”

The second story talks about the needs of the target population and gives examples of donor dollars at work. There’s a clear background, a protagonist and a conflict. The story is brief, but emotional and engaging. Before and after pictures could accompany a story to put a real face to the name. You’ll notice the story also provides a measurable outcome and ends with a strong call to action.

Remember, regardless of the type of your nonprofit: This isn’t about your needs as an organization. Nonprofits run lean, and by their very nature, they’re not known for luxurious amenities. Donors know you have overhead costs, but they really want to believe their dollars are directly helping your target population and cause.

Keep your story focused. Remember, you story is NOT  your mission statement—this is a way to warm your donors’ hearts (and open their wallets)!

Get Inspired…and Share Your Stories!

No matter your organization’s focus or target audience, you should have a set of go-to stories at all times. Keep a story folder on your desk, on your desktop, or in your notepad, and jot down three or four stories that truly reflect the impact your organization has had on at least one life. Update your story list regularly as you hear about great things that happen because of your organization.

Tell your story everywhere. Open your emails with a story. When you meet with a potential funder, tell your story. Tell your story on your website and create videos to share on your Facebook page and on other social media outlets. Put the story on your blog. Ask for testimonials, and use them on your promotional materials. Spreading your story will ensure both your story and your organization rise to the top of the “best seller” list.