Year end giving: How to raise funds with an impactful campaign

It’s pretty hard to top the warm fuzzy feelings you get when donating to a group or cause you care about, and it’s a feeling that pretty much everyone is chasing at the end of the year. Maybe the cold winter weather makes charitable giving feel even warmer, or maybe people just want to end the year and ring in the new one on a positive note. Whatever the reason the numbers are pretty clear: 31% of giving happens in the month of December, and in just the last three days of the year 12% of all charitable giving occur. Even in the lead up to the holidays, from October to the end of the year, 50% of nonprofits receive most of their annual donations. That means that if you’re looking to raise money, the sooner you start planning for year-end giving, the better!

Whether you’re looking to raise money for a nonprofit organization, an issue, or for a community project, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to ramp up and connect with folks to participate in your year-end giving campaign. Pull your team together and follow these simple steps to design a year-end giving campaign that hits your fundraising goals and help you get good done!

Year end giving

Top tips for a successful year end giving campaign

Build your fundraising plan

It’s never too early to get started!  Lots of nonprofits start their year-end giving campaigns and make individual asks as early as September. As the months go on, more organizations start to make asks and people’s inboxes fill up with more and more requests for donations. If you start early, you’ll get a chance to send your message before your donors are saturated with asks, and give your donors a chance to get to know you better before they give. 

When it comes to building a plan, set clear and measurable goals to help keep you on track. Set a timeline for when each part should be complete, and make sure everyone on your team is clear on each step so nothing falls through the cracks. 

Your goals should be unique to your project. They could be directly related to the amount of money you want to raise, they could  be a comparison to previous years (i.e. raising $1,000 more than last years campaign), or they might target a new donor demographic (i.e. tapping into new networks of people, especially helpful if you have lots of new volunteers). 

You could also include supporting goals that might not seem directly tied to fundraising, but increase the likelihood of getting donors. That might mean creating a website like an ioby campaign page for donors to give, or it looking for new volunteers—who are twice as likely to donate as non-volunteers thereby increasing the potential number of donors in your network. 

When you work with ioby, we’ll help you craft a tailored fundraising plan for your year-end campaign that fits your goals and your team. Learn more about crowdfunding with ioby. 

Throw a fundraising party or event

Once you have a plan in place, get people together. It’s the holidays, after all, so celebration is on tap. You don’t need to throw a gala to inspire people. There are benefits to just bringing your potential donors and your community together. Throwing an event can be a fun and effective way to create a sense of camaraderie, and to establish a sense of joint responsibility around an issue. 

When a fundraising effort connects real people doing their year end giving with the real people affected by the project, personal connections are formed and donors feel a greater sense of urgency. Offering donors a full picture of how this one-time gift can contribute to something larger can net you more gifts. 

Your event might also be a digital one, rather than an in-real-life event. Giving Tuesday might be a worthwhile opportunity to make asks of your community and help your donors feel part of something bigger without having to throw an in-person event. (Be careful of some pitfalls to Giving Tuesday though, as lots and lots of other organizations will also be saturating people’s inboxes at the same time.)

Year end giving
The Ohio City Bike Co-op in Cleveland held a bike fashion show to get people excited about supporting their year end giving campaign.

It never hurts to ask 

It can be intimidating or uncomfortable to ask for money, but you can’t raise funds if you never ask! Don’t forget that many of the folks you ask for donations are already looking for year end giving opportunities, and you’re presenting them a way to do something meaningful and important. In many ways, it’s no different from asking people to volunteer their time or other resources that may seem easier to request. If you’re having trouble getting over the emotional hump of asking, get some advice from ioby’s own Community and Growth Manager. And once you’ve asked, don’t forget to ask again.

When it comes to methods for asking for support, direct mail is the most popular way for nonprofits to reach year end giving goals, but the most surefire way of getting a “yes” to your ask is by doing so in person. No matter how you make your asks, there are a few pieces of wisdom to follow:

Give donors an incentive

An incentive may sound odd, but year end giving is an exchange that can make everyone feel good. That incentive doesn’t have to be a gift; it could simply be telling your donors why they’re important to the work you’re doing. Frame your year end giving ask around the positive change that each donor, specifically, can create with a donation. Additionally, year end giving statistics show that when people know their donation will be matched, they’re way more likely to donate — everyone loves a deal. Learn more about doubling your donations at ioby.

Make a specific ask

Make sure you offer varying levels of donation levels that are the right fit for your organization, and for your donors. Show your donors exactly what each level of donation can contribute to your project, and be clear on how much you need from this year end giving campaign to achieve your biggest, grandest mission. 

Show your confidence

Emotions play a huge role in why people donate, and most folks want to jump on board a successful project. When you display confidence about reaching your year end giving goals and making change, more people want to give. This can be as simple as showing a thermometer of closing in on your goal, or it can mean discussing past projects that you’ve worked on and the lives they’ve affected.  Two out of three donors do zero research on the cause or organization they give to, which means many people are getting involved because they feel excited by the story being shared to them.

Year end giving
Matt Kelly shared lots of photos from the field to help tell the story of his campaign, in a National Park far away from most of his donors, to inspire folks to give generously.

Tell your story

Year end giving is personal. Let people know what this specific project means to you, and why you’ve elected to fundraise for it. You can show photos, tell stories, or even bring your donors to see the real life impact of their involvement. For year end giving, making a video can be the most effective way to share your story, since 57% of online donors make a contribution after watching a video.

Keep the story simple, specific, and focused on the issue where donors are making a difference. Don’t be afraid to show the urgency of the need around the project, so that folks can see the challenges, and understand why their support is so immensely important. 

Consult ioby’s storytelling toolkit for helpful tips on what to share and how to present the wealth of information you have on your cause.

Keep in touch 

You probably already know to thank people for their year end giving donation. It’s a huge part of making year end giving satisfying, whether you see your donors everyday or if they’re across the world, so don’t let it slip through the cracks! Send personal thank you’s that share the positive change that each donor made with their contribution, and share your progress on the big picture mission you’re all working on together. 

Taking the time to thank your donors will help turn one-time donors into future repeat donors, and will keep people involved and giving.  While year end giving is popular and effective, your community may need support at other times of year, and it’s important to be in touch with the folks invested in your cause so you can rely on them again.

Start a crowdfunding campaign

Give your year end giving campaign a home online by starting a project on ioby. It’s an easy and accessible place to send everyone — from major donors to people who just want to learn more about your story. Because 70% of people donate on multiple channels, make your life easier by having one page where people from all over the web, and even from printed flyers and postcards, can find you for year end giving. When you start a project with ioby, you’ll get one-on-one coaching and access to tools and resources to help you reach your goals. Plus you can kick-off a campaign in the fall, and keep it running through the end of the year. 

ioby is a national crowdfunding nonprofit, but we’re much more than that. Our crowdfunding platform helps connect leaders (like you!) with one-on-one coaching and support to raise the money they need from their communities to make our neighborhoods safer, greener, more livable, and more fun.

Do you have a cause that needs a boost from year end giving? We want to help you fundraise! Share your idea with us and we can help get you started.