The 1 Thing to Know for Year-End Fundraising

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The reason your organization raises so much money at year-end has little to do with your organization.

But it has a LOT to do with your donors.

Please, let me tell you how you can use this information to help your donors give even more. This is a big idea.

People aren’t more generous in November and December because they suddenly wake up and want to help nonprofits. Your donors are more generous because this is time of year they celebrate thankfulness and generosity. This is when they celebrate the gifts they’ve been given (personally, financially, spiritually), and focus on the things that matter most to them.

A natural outcome of your donors’ celebrations — and of thinking more about what they care about — makes them more likely to give gifts. They put their money where their heart is.

Here’s why I’m telling you this . . .

Focus your message at year-end on what your donors care about and you’ll raise more money.

But most nonprofits don’t do this! Instead, they focus their messaging on the organization itself. They talk about what the organization did during the year. They talk about the programs of the organization.

Here’s a super-simple example of why focusing on what the donor cares about is so effective. Imagine you’re an arts organization. Here’s what your donors care about, in order of importance:

  1. The arts
  2. Promoting and/or preserving the arts
  3. Organizations that promote or preserve the arts

Remember, the organizations that raise the most money tend to focus on what donors care about most.

So, this arts organization would focus their messaging on the arts themselves, and how the donor’s gift will promote or preserve them.

But most organizations write about themselves. They are focusing their messaging on the least important of the three things their donor cares about! Their letter will be all about what their organization is doing to promote and preserve the arts. Then they’ll ask the donor to “support the organization” or to “help us continue this good work.”

Here’s what works far better: talking less about the organization, and asking the donor to ‘support the arts.’

In practice, this means making your year-end letters, emails and website features more about your cause and your beneficiaries than about your organization.

I know this works. Our clients usually see their biggest gains working with us at year-end, mostly because we help them communicate more about what their donors care more about! We even sell samples of year-end appeal letters that are proven to work – and if you look at the samples you’ll notice that they talk very little about the organization that sent the letter. They talk to the donor about the cause or the beneficiaries, and about how the donor can help.

So this year more than ever, make your donor communications about what your donors care about most!

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