Year-end fundraising is big for nonprofits and you can make it even bigger with text message fundraising. We’ve got a seven-step strategy to help you make the most of end-of-the-year giving and texting so you can fuel your nonprofit.
Why It Matters
Before we dive too deep into texting and year-end fundraising strategy, let’s talk about why it’s important.
Year-End Fundraising Works
Simply put, year-end fundraising is effective. About 30% of annual giving happens in December, with the last three days of the year bringing in about 10% of all donations.
Whether it’s the year-end tax deadline or the warm fuzzies generated around the holidays, people are just more generous at the end of the year. That means year-end fundraising should be a crucial part of your nonprofit donor strategy.
If you want to reach people, reach them on the device they always have with them and always check. Seriously, the stats about texting are unreal. People read texts, respond to texts, and donate by text at rates way better than email. While your donors may unplug from email between Christmas and New Year’s, they still read text messages.
Texting & Year-End Fundraising Work Together
When you pair an effective method in texting with a prime season with the end of the year, you’ve got a recipe for nonprofit fundraising success. It’s smart strategy to put these two effective approaches together and you’ll see a boost in your nonprofit donations.
Quick Year-End Fundraising Tips:
💡 Encourage continued giving: Ongoing monthly giving grew by 40% as nonprofit donors embraced recurring donations. Make sure it’s easy for your supporters to give on an ongoing basis with a recurring donation option.
7-Step Year-End Fundraising Strategy
We’ve got a seven-step strategy to help your nonprofit organization boost year-end fundraising with the power of text messaging.
1. Review Last Year’s Results
Before diving into anything new, take a look at what you did last year. What worked, what didn’t, and where can you improve? Examine your donor strategy and nonprofit marketing approach. What should you start doing? What should you stop doing? What should you keep doing?
2. Set a Goal & Build a Plan
The next step is to set specific goals for this year. Give your team something to aim toward. Also think about marketing strategies that can help you get there. You need a plan.
While text messaging can be an incredibly effective tool to boost your fundraising efforts, it shouldn't be the only tool you use. You should plan for all your communication channels to work together to maximize this end-of-the-year fundraising push. You might send a direct mail fundraiser in October (with an option to donate online or via text), followed by emails in November and early December, with texts coming just before Thanksgiving, in mid-December, and during the last three days of the year. Compliment all of these with social media posts throughout the end-of-the-year season. Figure out the exact mix for your nonprofit communication, but make sure they work together toward the same goal.
While goals are helpful internally, they also help create external content by giving you something to talk about. You can encourage donors to help you get to the goal and give frequent updates about your progress.
Quick Year-End Fundraising Tips:
💡 Snail mail still goes online: 35% of donors say they’d rather respond to a direct mail pitch by giving online. So make it easy with QR codes and text-to-donate options.
3. Start Early and Warm up Your List
Your year-end fundraising strategy should start well before the end of the year. You should start planning, creating content, and setting strategy into motion months in advance.
While it’s possible to send texts or email messages at the last minute, you should definitely have a plan in place ahead of time. You also want to take the time to craft those messages, create images and video, and more. Give yourself plenty of time.
Also, a last-minute text campaign can run into spam issues or lots of opt-outs. You need to warm up your list by sending regular updates. Your text messages shouldn’t come as a surprise to your supporters. You should be regularly communicating with them via text—and that means not asking for money every time. Give them updates on the work you’re doing and make those pleas for cash less frequent.
Other channels, including direct mail, also require more lead time. Build extra time into your fundraising calendar.
Quick Year-End Fundraising Tips:
💡 Reach major donors: Less than a quarter of donors account for more than 96% of revenue donated. That means a few donors with deep pockets are giving big, and that accounts for a huge chunk of your nonprofit budget. So make sure you’re segmenting major donors and including them in your year-end fundraising efforts.
4. Segment Your Outreach
One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make is failing to segment their audience. Too often they send the same message to every supporter, whether they’re a volunteer, donor, recipient, or someone else. That creates a disconnect and tanks your effectiveness.
Instead, think about your different audiences. A local food bank, for example, has several different types of people it wants to communicate with:
- Recipients: The people served by the food bank.
- Donors: The people giving money to support the food bank.
- Volunteers: The people who give of their time to support the food bank.
- Partners: The people working at organizations who partner with the food bank.
- Community: The people who don’t donate or volunteer but still support the food bank (i.e., potential donors and volunteers).
There is overlap between these groups and some messages could be shared. The pitch to donors and volunteers might be similar, and they would both want to hear success stories. But a message to recipients would be vastly different than one going to partners.
You want to think about how to segment your audience and differentiate these different groups. Use different lists to reach each one. Note where the overlaps occur so you can reuse applicable messages.
Here’s how that might work when you send text messages:
- Recipients: Send a text about new holiday hours.
- Donors: Send a picture of the line out the door and let them know their donations are doing good.
- Volunteers: Send the same picture of the line out the door, but instead ask for help and point to your volunteer opportunities.
- Partners: Send a text letting them know new holiday hours are better serving the people in need.
- Community: Send the picture of the line out the door and let them know your food bank is keeping people fed thanks to your generous donors.
Your year-end fundraising message will be more effective when it’s specifically targeted. Take it up a notch by personalizing it as well. Use tagging, keywords, and workflows to reach different audiences with different messages and boost your efforts.
5. Use Video and Multimedia
If you want to connect and effectively share your story today, you need to use video. Rally now supports multimedia messaging service (MMS), which means you can text video and media to really engage your supporters.
That’s vital because not only is video super effective, but people watch a ton of video on their phones. People love stories and the immediacy of video. Make that trend work for you by texting a video about your nonprofit mission. Create a quick, personal video that shares why this cause is so important. That personal connection is much more powerful than simple donor letter.
The stats agree: 57% of online donors make a donation after watching a video.
6. Measure Outcomes
If you want to make the most of your year-end efforts, you need to track data. Pay attention to what works (and what doesn’t). That means using short links and tracking URLs.
If you put a QR code in your fundraising mailer or on the slides at your fundraising event, make sure you can track how often it’s being used.
The Rally platform has these tools built in so it’s easy to track your data and know what works.
7. Share the Results
Showing your progress and the results of your year-end fundraising push is vital for several reasons:
- First, it creates urgency. When people see you need 50 more backpacks or 5 more members, it’s tangible. That’s something they can get their head around and see the real need.
- Second, people love to join successful efforts. There’s a little bit of going along with the crowd that can encourage people to get on board: “Everybody is supporting this cause, I should too!”
- Third, you’re making a difference. People have plenty of reasons to be cynical these days, so it’s important to show the results of your work. Show not only that people are donating, but that those donations will make a real difference. It underscores your mission and cements that supporter relationship.
Remember to say thank you. Whether you blow past your goal or even just come close, show your gratitude.
The Rally platform includes a new thermometer feature that can track your year-end fundraising and show your progress.
Quick Year-End Fundraising Tips:
💡 Mobile-friendly: How mobile friendly is your donation page? Mobile-friendly donation pages get 34% more donations, so take your website for a test drive and make sure it’s easy to donate on a mobile phone.
Year-End Fundraising for the Win
Your nonprofit has a vital mission and fundraising fuels that work. The end of the year is a crucial time to bring in those donations, so put together a plan that pairs texting and year-end gratitude for a solid win.
Try Rally for free and join our ACE Fundraising Challenge to supercharge your year-end campaigns.