2 min Read
August 5, 2010

Your path to storybook year-end fundraising starts here

Big Duck

The hottest NYC summer in years isn’t the only reason we’re dreaming of the holidays here at Big Duck (though a cold snap sounds pretty glorious right about now). Many nonprofits receive as much as 40 percent of their annual donations during the month of December, and we know that early planning is key to making the most of your year-end fundraising season.
But where do you actually start? More than almost anything, the strength of your campaign will depend on finding the right year-end story to tell your donors–and then telling it through every channel you’ve got. But how do you home in on a year-end story that’s both rooted in emotion and makes an urgent case for giving? Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Are you starting your story with a challenge? Telling your donors all of the amazing things you’ve already accomplished is great, but it doesn’t belong at the beginning of your year-end story. Donors need to know why you need them now, not six months ago. Start your year-end story by telling donors what challenges you’ll be able to successfully tackle in 2011 if enough funds are raised now.
  • Are your goals achievable? The eyes of even the most dedicated conservationist will glaze over if you say next year’s goal is to “solve global warming.” Try “getting the clean energy bill passed in the Senate” instead. Focusing on a challenge that donors can wrap their minds around lends credibility–and helps them feel part of a real solution.
  • Does your year-end story fit with your organization’s story? Review your organization’s mission and founding story. Does your year-end story reflect the emotion and inspiration of that mission? Wrap up your year-end story by making it clear why December’s goals are a natural and compelling next step in your organization’s path.

Once you decide what story will be at the core of your year-end campaign, here are a few more resources to help you feature that story as effectively as possible through your web, email and social media channels.

  • Be sure to check out the whitepaper “The Overachiever’s Guide to Year-End Fundraising” from Sea Change Strategies’ Alia McKee Scott and Care2’s Eric Rardin. One suggestion we especially liked: Give your friend or family member $10 and ask them to donate through your website. Then watch them try to donate and see if they get confused or lost at any point on your webpage or form. A great way to uncover usability road bumps and improve donor page conversion!
  • Your year-end story is strongest when it responds to the voices of your supporters. Read Elizabeth Ricca’s post on how remaining nimble allowed Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy to take advantage of an amazing (and unexpected!) match opportunity last December.

Have other suggestions for what to include in your year-end story? Share them in the comments section below!