A Guide to Maximizing Your 2021 Year-End Fundraising

Itse Hesse • Nov 23, 2021

The holiday season is right around the corner, and for nonprofits, that means one thing: year-end fundraising is upon us. 

As nonprofits continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic, fundraising campaigns held during the holiday season might look a little different from yesteryears. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. Even in unprecedented times such as these, there are trends, data, and tips that we can learn from to inspire our year-end fundraising strategies. 

This article will discuss ongoing year-end fundraising trends and highlight steps you can take to make your nonprofit 2021 year-end fundraising campaign one for the record books.

Why Is Year-End Fundraising So Important?

Nonprofits put a lot of emphasis on GivingTuesday campaigns, but the days that follow each Giving Tuesday are crucial to meeting your annual fundraising goals. 

Most donations to nonprofits occur in the last three months of the year, but 30% of all annual donations are made in December. What’s more, from the 29th to the 31st of December, nonprofits receive 10% of their total annual giving. That’s 10% of the entire year’s donations in the last 3 days!

30% of all annual donations are made in December
Percentage of donations received by Nonprofits in December.

These statistics signal the importance of prioritizing your year-end fundraising campaigns and highlight the giving potential of donors during this time of the year. In December, donors are in the giving spirit, thanks to the holiday season. They are more likely to buy gifts for friends and family and support causes they believe in. 

Other than the tendency for donors to be in a giving mood near the end of the year, they tend to be motivated by the reality that donations are tax-deductible. So as the year comes to an end, they make last-minute gifts; in some cases, these gifts can be significant contributions. 

The end of the year is an opportunity for your nonprofit to reap the benefits of developing quality donor relationships throughout the year. To prepare for the influx of donations that you’re bound to receive at this time of the year, make sure you’re set up to send automated tax receipts to donors, so you don’t drown in administrative tasks.

Show Donors Their Impact By Sharing Donation Summaries

Using Keela, you can now send donors summaries of their contributions over a specific period.

Donation Summaries (often referred to as End of Year Summaries), are a beautiful table of donation information that you can slip right into Keela’s email marketing tool.

These tables will automatically update themselves with your contacts’ donation totals for a specific time period (the year, the month, the quarter) and populate that right into the email.

How to Prepare for the 2021 Year-End Giving Season

1. Review Past Fundraising Campaigns

Your previous fundraising campaign performance can indicate how equipped your nonprofit is for a new campaign. Take some time to review donation data and metrics from your past campaigns, and as you plan for your next campaign, identity KPIs to help your nonprofit team stay on track. 

When evaluating your past campaigns, consider the following: 

  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • How much did you raise in total? Was it above or below expectations, and why?
  • Which were the conversion rates of your marketing channels? Look at your social media pages, email campaigns, and donation pages. 
  • What was the theme of your campaign last year? How did people respond to it?
  • Which segments of your donor base made the most donations?
  • How did you follow up with donors and thank supporters for their contributions?
  • What was the average donation amount?. 
  • What was your most successful fundraising email? What was your most successful social media post? 

What was the average cost per gift? Here’s a handy guide on calculating fundraising costs.

2. Set Goals for Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign

Once you’ve reviewed your past fundraising campaign performances, you can look ahead by setting goals and benchmarks. More so, you can identify key campaign metrics and decide how you will measure your progress. Get your team on board and be sure that they understand how what each metric means and how it impacts your fundraising goals. 

Some metrics to consider include: 

  • Fundraising: Campaign ROI, Total Funds Raised, Average Gift Size, Donor Retention Rate, New Donor Acquisition
  • Marketing, and Donor Outreach: Email Open Rate, Email Click-Through Rate, Donation Page Conversion Rate, Social Media Traffic.
  • Events: Total Registrations, Registration to Check-In Ratio, Event ROI, Social Media Mention.

Identify Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising KPIs

Use this FREE Toolkit to learn what it means to be data-driven and get access to a master list of fundraising KPIs for your nonprofits

3. Create a Unique Campaign Theme

Next, as you prepare for your year-end fundraising, develop a theme, unique branding, and messaging that will be used consistently throughout the campaign. Your campaign marketing collaterals, copy, and content must resonate with your ideal donors. So, you should review your ideal donor persona and donor insights and use them as a basis for developing your new campaign.

4. Equip Your Nonprofit Team with a Fundraising CRM

If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your donors while juggling freemium software to send mass emails, the end of the year is a convenient time to consider investing in digital fundraising tools

During the busy holiday season, you shouldn’t spend hours sending tax receipts or pulling an updated list of your recurrent donors. The following tools will help you stay focused on your appeal and create a successful year-end fundraising campaign:

  • A donor management system to store and analyze donor data, 
  • An email marketing platform to reach out to your supporters 
  • A fundraising platform to set up a donation form and automatically send tax receipts

Does it mean you have to buy three different software to implement your 2021 year-end fundraising campaign? No! Your secret weapon is housed in three letters: CRM 

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a database that holds all your contacts’ information in one place. It helps reduce the time spent on manual processes like updating donor information, keeping track of ongoing projects, and creating donation receipts.Most importantly, it gives you a complete understanding of your donors and their needs, helping you tailor your fundraising campaigns. A CRM, like Keela, even goes a step further by recommending how much you should ask for or when is the best time to reach out to your donors. You can consider one of the nonprofit CRM listed here.

8 Tips to Boost Your Nonprofit’s End-of-Year Donations

If you’ve read up to this point, you are now aware of how important it is to run a year-end fundraising campaign. But unfortunately, you’re not the only one who’s aware of that. Several nonprofits will be vying for your donors’ and supporters’ attention during this time of the year. 

So, it is in your best interest that you use a thoughtful, creative and strategic approach to distinguish your organization from the crowd. 

Here are 8 tips to keep in mind so you can boost your year-end fundraising revenue:

1. Create a Specific Donation Page for Your Campaign

Every campaign marketing content you share online, or through direct mail or physical marketing channels, should encourage potential donors to visit a specific donation page on your website. This donation page should be solely for your ongoing fundraising campaign, and in this case, your year-end fundraising campaign.  

Use your donation page to share the importance of your campaign and the potential impact of donors’ contributions. Your donation page should include an optimized donation form, and if you’re using Keela, you can create an unlimited number of donation forms for different campaigns.  In the image below, you can see how Zero Ceiling is making the most out of Keela donation forms.

Zero Ceiling's donation page
Zero Ceiling’s Donation Page

A great way to encourage end-of-year donations is to show your donors how much work you’ve done throughout the year. Using a progress bar like Zero Ceiling, you can communicate what goals you are hoping to hit and how close you are to hitting those goals.

2. Use Pop-ups on Your Nonprofit Website

As you design a unique donation page for your year-end fundraising campaign, you should also think about ways to capture your nonprofit website’s visitors while they are browsing through other pages on your website. 

One of the best ways to do this is by creating popups.

A pop-up is simply a box that ‘pops up’ on top of a webpage to deliver a message and encourage visitors to take action. You might find them annoying, but pop-ups can truly boost donations for unique fundraising campaigns. 

Here are some ideas to help you maximize your pop-ups: 

  • Set up an “exit” pop-up. This kind of popup is triggered when a visitor is about to leave your website, giving you one last chance to make your ask.
  • Include a value proposition in your copy. Make it clear why donors should give to your organization. 
  • Make it easy for visitors to close the pop-up to avoid annoying them. Also, make sure the pop-up only shows up once per day per visitor. 
  • Make your donation button stand out. Make sure it’s bold and clear enough so that people understand what you’re asking them to do.

See this example from Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  It works because the value proposition is clear enough: donations “will be matched dollar-for-dollar.” What’s more, the pop-up creates a sense of urgency: to get a tax return visitors must donate before December 31.

Cheesapeake Bay Foundation's Donation Pop-Up
Cheesapeake Bay Foundation’s Donation Pop-Up

3. Segment Your Donors

You likely know this by now, but when it comes to fundraising campaigns, one size doesn’t fit all. Each campaign is unique, and so are the kinds of donors likely to donate to them. With that in mind, you should consider segmenting your donors based on their interests, motivations, and historical giving data. 

The more engaged a donor is with your nonprofit and the more interests they have in supporting your beneficiaries or community, the better your chances of securing funds from them. But segmentation can be a complex task, so let a fundraising tool like Keela do the heavy lifting. 

You can use Keela to segment donors based on their donor score, interests, preferred channels of communication and donations, frequency of donors, demographics (age, sex, location, etc.), past campaigns they contributed to, and much more. And if you’ve established your ideal donor persona, be sure to consider that when segmenting your donor lists.

Segment Your Nonprofit's Contacts with Keela's Donor Score
Segment Your Nonprofit’s Contacts with Keela’s Donor Score

4. Write Your Year-End Fundraising Appeals with Empathy

One way to make your year-end fundraising appeal stand out is by writing with empathy. It seems simple enough, but it’s a writing tip that you need to be intentional about. 

When you write fundraising appeals or letters with empathy, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of your donors and supporters and letting them know that you care about them and the causes they care about. Being intentional about your writing begins with personalization, so be sure to address your donors by name or use a tool that lets you do just that. 

Here are a few tips for writing fundraising appeals that resonate with donors: 

  • Make your writing conversational: Your communications should read like you’re talking to a friend. 
  • Personalize your email subject line: Readers are 26% more likely  to open emails with personalized subject lines. It can be as simple as using a smart tag to include donors’ first names. 
  • Send emails from a person, not an organization: By doing this, you will be making the giving experience feel more personal and thoughtful. People are more likely to open an email from “Sarah” than “XYZ foundation.” 
  • Embrace storytelling: People need stories o make sense of the world. Share your nonprofit’s ‘why’ or highlight one of your several beneficiaries. 

Use social proof: Social proofs help build trust and credibility. Share testimonials and keep donors updated on how your campaign is progressing.

5. Nail the Subject Line and Preview Text

Your nonprofit email’s subject line and preview text are the first words your donors and supporters will see when they receive your emails. These words, or copy, should be good enough to convince your recipients to open your email. So, make sure they are engaging, descriptive, and action-oriented.

Improve Your Email Metrics By Writing Better Subject Lines

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn five proven mental levers that you can easily implement in your subject lines to increase opens and donations.

6. Share Your Nonprofit’s Impact Stories

Most successful fundraising emails almost always include stories that highlight the positive impact the nonprofit is making. Sharing these kinds of stories will communicate the value of your donors’ contributions and outline how your organization intends to use the funds raised. There are several ways to tell and share impact stories, so feel free to get creative to capture your donors’ interest.

7. Include a CTA

A call-to-action (CTA) is a short marketing copy, strategically placed within a content piece, that spurs donors to take action. Your year-end fundraising appeal or letter should include a compelling CTA that drives people to your campaign’s donation page. The best CTAs are concise and include action verbs.

8. Send Fundraising Appeals at Optimal Times

Timing is everything when it comes to sending year-end fundraising appeals. Make sure you’re reaching out to your donors at times that are right for them, regardless of which timezone they live in. 

Generally speaking, it’s better to send emails on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during daytime hours. A good email marketing tool, like Keela, can help you organize and schedule your fundraising emails, so they end up in inboxes at the best possible hour.

9. Say Thank You

One of the keys to a successful fundraising campaign is donor appreciation. When a donor makes a new contribution, they should automatically receive a thank-you message from your nonprofit. This follow-up message makes donors feel valued and encourages them to keep supporting your organization year after year. They may even decide to donate to your current campaign again.n. 

10. Steward and Retain Donors

Months after your year-end fundraising campaign is over, you can continue to reap its benefits if you develop a donor stewardship plan. A Donor stewardship plan involves activities that nurture your donor relationships and encourage donors to become long-term contributors and supporters. You need to have a plan in place to do this and retain more donors over time. You can continue to reap the benefits of your year-end fundraising campaign.


See How Nonprofits Use Keela to Collect Online Donations

Get a glimpse of how Keela smart tools help nonprofits strategize, streamline, and automate their fundraising efforts.

Remember, even in unprecedented times, the end of the year can still be an excellent time for your nonprofit to rake in more donations to crown your efforts. Take advantage of this season and end your year well by running a year-end fundraising campaign. Don’t leave any stone unturned; instead, equip your team with the best strategies and tools to make this charitable season worthwhile for your organization.

And while you’re at it, start preparing for your next year with Keela: