The Giving Season is Right Around the Corner ― Are You Ready?

This post was sponsored by NationBuilder.

There are still some precious weeks left for planning and preparation before the giving season begins. Nonprofit organizations around the country are gearing up for what should be their most fruitful fundraising months of the year. With so much excitement in the air, it’s time to make sure your goals are set for #GivingTuesday.

Start backwards

Let’s fast forward to the day before your ideal #GivingTuesday. Imagine what it would look like. Though it’s just a single day of giving, you ― like the most successful nonprofit teams ― are treating it as the first step in a longer-term ladder of engagement. By this point, you’ve done the legwork to make the most of its potential — both by knowing your people and how they’ve contributed in the past and by designing a communications plan that corresponds to their history. 

Target emails early and often

Most people will donate to your organization, not because of the email blasts you send, but because of the relationship you’ve built leading up to it. You’ve spent the last month ramping up hyper-targeted email outreach to the key segments of your donor base. This helps to prepare your most committed donors for the most ambitious tasks and to improve your email deliverability rates with major email service providers. 

By now, the people you need to reach have gotten your message and are primed to contribute. You’ve even equipped the donors who are most likely to recruit their peers with their own tracking links. You’ve also empowered them to take ownership of your cause by asking their friends to support it alongside them.

Design pages to raise more

Perhaps most importantly, your website is ready to go. You’ve set up a cleanly designed fundraising page with a clear call-to-action and built-in payment processing. And, you’ve chosen a processor with industry-low rates to maximize how much of incoming donations go straight to your cause. It’s an easy, seamless experience for donors to turn their one-time donation into a recurring one, so you can reap the benefits of the traffic you receive today for months to come. Each action your donors take on the page triggers a social media prompt, so they can help drive further peer-to-peer interest in your fundraising push throughout the day.

Now, let’s talk about how to build the infrastructure to get you there.

Put all your data in one place

If the data on your supporter interactions are scattered between disparate spreadsheets, tools, and single-task software platforms, it’s pretty difficult to target your communications in a way that takes advantage of all the information that you collect from different channels. You run the risk of losing staff time to tedious administrative work, only to see a lower percentage of your supporters take action when you ask them. 

The first step to get your organization into shape is to integrate your data into one place. Make sure the platform you choose is the same place where you manage your email and text communications, website pages, volunteers, and fundraising. 

Once you do that, every decision you make can be informed by the volumes of data at your disposal. It’s vital to use as much of the data that you’ve collected from your supporters as possible—not just because it will benefit your organization, but because it’ll provide the most value to the donors you hope to engage. 

Knowing things like when each supporter entered your database, which actions they took, what connections they have to other supporters or influencers in your community, and what they care most about can let you know how best to request their help when the moment arises to move them to action.

Keep people moving toward your goals

The more you look at the history of your most engaged supporters, the more you’ll find that people don’t just take one type of action. The days of putting your supporters into silos—donor, volunteer, advocate—are over. 

In aggregate, anonymized data studies from our community, we’ve found that donors who were asked to engage in other activities, like volunteering or engaging on social media, made donations 60% larger than those who were only asked to donate. Make sure you can easily launch different types of pages on your website to give supporters a variety of ways they can engage, and keep reinforcing all those ways in your communications.

Layout exactly the path you want supporters to take and start tracking their progress along with those steps—when they sign a petition, remind them to donate! When they donate, recognize their contributions and let them know about volunteering opportunities. 

Your organization derives its potential from the people who support it, and it’s during this end-of-year period that they can make the biggest impact. With any luck and all the right tools and strategies, you can not only hit your year-end goals but continue that upward trend into 2020 and beyond. Start now, and the relationships you build and strengthen can help sustain your organization for years to come.


Annie Mosbacher

Annie Mosbacher is the VP of Customer Engagement and Digital Marketing at NationBuilder, a software platform that makes it possible for anyone to easily mobilize their community and lead people to action. Since 2009, more than 150,000 people in over 100 countries have used NationBuilder to successfully lead their nonprofits, advocacy groups, campaigns, and more.

September 10, 2019

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