ducks in a row


The other day my daughter and I were walking down an aisle in a department store and she noticed a huge Halloween products display. “Oh come on!” she said.

TOO SOON. I agreed, and we had a laugh about how I forbid holiday music until after Thanksgiving. Ah, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

You know what it’s not too soon for? Year-end fundraising planning.

For most of you, December is the biggest online fundraising month of the year. You don’t need to get all of your ducks in a row at this moment, but there are steps you can take now to lay a foundation for success.

So stay calm and start planning. Here are 3 things successful nonprofits can and should do in September to get a leg up on year-end online fundraising.

Get your best stories ready.

Donors don’t give because you’ve wowed them with a statistic or the words “annual fund.” They give because you gave them the feels – fear, compassion, pride, outrage, solidarity – you made them care! In such a high-stakes campaign, you need your most compelling personal stories that show how donors can make a difference.

Don’t have these stories? Start asking for them. MomsRising just asked its supporters to share a few words on why they rise for MomsRising, and the responses were amazing, a treasure trove of inspiration and insight into what motivates their supporters to act.

Ask your staff. Ask your supporters. Go get those stories!

Plan to cultivate, engage and show gratitude in October and November.

Diving straight into a barrage of e-appeals in December is BAD FORM. What are you doing to engage and cultivate donors BEFORE then (actually, all year!)?

Some of my favorite October and November (and even early December) online cultivation tactics are the wins blog post and/or infographic, a thank you video, a pledge, a short quiz, or a beautiful slideshow. (Actually, the “Tell Your Story” activity can work, too. Check out 4 Inspirational “Share Your Story” Pages That Will Knock Your Socks Off.) The idea is to get supporters to take one, small, light action so they get to know your work a little better and are ready for a deeper ask come December.

Take a good hard look at your donation landing page.

Does it stink? What would a donor think when she lands on it right now? You know what I mean – no branding, no inspirational copy asking donors to give now, too many fields, too many escape hatches (links to non-donation pages), no gift string, no monthly giving option.

You can lose perfectly good prospects with a bad donation landing page. And since it often takes technical resources to fix the page, why not prepare for those changes now so you have time to test out a new page?

Give a friend who knows nothing about your nonprofit $20 and ask her to donate on your website. Then ask for her brutally honest opinion on the experience, and learn!

At the same time, check out the donation landing pages of your aspirational peers to get some ideas on how to improve your page.

What are you doing to prepare for year-end? Share your ideas and questions in the comments section.

Published On: September 8, 2016|Categories: Fundraising|