You have a lot on your plate. You are wrapping up fall special events, working on your budget for 2022, and managing the daily operations of your pregnancy center. What is your vision for the new year? Do you have the funds to accomplish this vision? As you go into the last two months of the year, a road map to successful fundraising will be a helpful tool for developing an intentional strategy to raise money and support the life-changing mission of your center.
Step #1: Assess Your List
Begin by assessing your donor database. How well do you know your donors and their giving habits? Do you regularly clean up your list? Do you look for potential in your current supporters? Do you follow up with those you haven’t heard from in a while?
- Pull all your donors that have given $500+ gifts who have not given in the last three months but have given at least one gift in the last three years.
- Use the following fields: First Name, Last Name, First Gift Amount, First Gift Date, Last Gift Amount, Last Gift Date, Largest Gift Amount, Largest Gift Date, Frequency (total number of gifts ever), Cumulative (total of all gifts).
- Sort your list by largest gift amount (Largest to Smallest) and last gift date (recent to Oldest).
- Someone giving at the same level for more than a couple years and with a longer giving history should be asked to upgrade.
- Here is a rule of thumb on levels: For those giving $500, ask for a gift of $1,000. If giving $1,000, ask for $5,000. If giving $5,000 for a few years, ask for $10,000.
- Create a gift table of the number of possible gifts at each level and amount.
- What is the potential total from that chart?
- Repeat steps 1 through 7 for those under $500 if you have time. Otherwise, just focus on the $500+ donors.
- Group your donors by the upgrade amount.
- $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000
- Write personalized letters to some levels and send an eblast and/or printed letter to the lower levels. Highlight stories of impact (lives changed and babies saved), great statistics and hope for the future.
Step #2: What Do You Need the Additional Revenue For?
Based on your findings from the upgrade assessment of your donor list, what is the total possible that is over and above what you raised last year at the same time? For example, if it’s $100,000, what could you do if you raised $100,000 more? Your supporters love your mission and they want to support the work you are doing.
It’s important to be clear about your plan and your vision. Are you wanting to add services? Add staff? Become medical? Open a new location? Increase your digital marketing presence online to increase foot traffic in your door? Communicate this to your donors and invite them to join you.
Whatever it is, make your case for it in a one-page letter that is asking for specific amounts according to category.
- One-page letter, front and back from the director with a meaty P.S. (asking for the donor’s help. P.S. max of 60 words).
- Use a Serif font. Studies show it is most readable instead of a Sans Serif. This is especially important since your audience is likely 50+. Be sure to use black ink.
- The tone of the letter should be more conversational – written how you speak. Some paragraphs are just one sentence (a simple phrase by itself adds emphasis) and some sentences may be fragmented. A direct mail letter is much different than a formal letter. The goal of the letter is to connect with your donors and move them to making a gift as donating is an emotional response from the right side of the brain.
- Use more stories and less statistics.
- Incorporate the word “you” a lot.
- Ask for help twice and then ask for a specific amount.
- Thank them for their past support.
- Structure of the letter:
- For $500+ personalize in three places: Salutation, second paragraph lead in, and last paragraph lead in with the appeal for funds.
- First paragraph is one sentence that acknowledges the donor’s past support and how it has made the difference.
- Second paragraph is one sentence asking for their help or suggesting what will happen (or would have happened – without it.)
- The front page should have more white space than ink.
- The rest of the front page lays out the problem.
- At the bottom of the page, it should say “Over, please…”
- The back page: one paragraph of what the plan is to solve the “problem” (two or three sentences).
- Next paragraph is one sentence addressing the donor (if $500+ use their names) and helping them visualize what will happen with/without their help.
- Last paragraph is one sentence to the donor requesting gifts at suggested levels. Acknowledge you realize this is an upgrade in giving level but express how great the need is for the center (ie: John and Mary, your generous contribution of ____, ____, ____ or some other amount will make all the difference and help us ___________(i.e., purchase that mobile unit) and save more lives).
- #9 business reply envelopes with live stamps if possible.
- Response card or paper (does not have to be card stock) that is 9 inches x 3.75 inches.
- Font/size large enough for an older audience to read and complete.
- On the front include an opening statement that ties back to the need.
- Giving levels should match those in the letter.
- Give an online option along with a space for credit card information.
- Gather contact information on the back.
- Carrier envelope is a #10 with a live stamp and teaser on the outside.
Step #3: Visits and Phone Calls
The Top 20
Pull the top 20 letters based on the amount of requests, and hand-deliver those. They should be in manilla envelopes for those you will deliver. Mail the rest and then call/email your top 20 asking to come by and meet – take them a plate of Christmas cookies too if you have the opportunity to visit in person. At your visit or in the handwritten note, ask them to consider giving that larger amount. Explain that if everyone gives at the requested level, your center will be able to ____________.
For those who can’t meet, handwrite a note on their letter and then mail the manilla size envelope. Once all are mailed, follow up by phone with the top 20 (calling 5 per day) that were mailed.
Call The Next Top 20
Reach out to the next group of 20 donors by phone, too.
- Thank them for their past support
- Ask them to consider the requested amount you sent in their letter.
- Include that they are one of ____(number of people) that you are asking for _____amount from.
- Tell them the goal amount and how much has already been raised. It’s important for them to know that you are partnering with several individuals and that you are getting closer to your goal.
Step #4: Emails
Emails are a great way to reach your donors because they are less distracted reading/skimming emails than when they scroll through social media and most donors expect email communication in December.
In your emails, share your heart with your donors, tell them powerful stories of impact, give updates on your programs and services and let them know about your vision for the year to come.
Plan to send at least one email per week starting around Thanksgiving and continue through the end of the year. (It’s important to go through year end, even if you close your office for the holidays. Many donations come in during the last week of the year.) Include Thanksgiving and Christmas emails that acknowledge and thank your donors. These should simply be greetings, not financial asks.
Segmenting your list ensures you are sending the right messages to the right people. If you can, segment your high-capacity donors into one list, your monthly donors in another, and the rest of your donors in a third list. As the weeks progress, you can segment based on who has not opened your emails, or who has opened but hasn’t donated yet, and send targeted messages to appeal to each of these groups.
Step #5: Include Social Media
In addition to letters, phone calls and emails, connect with your donors on social media where they already spend a significant amount of time. Create a plan that will carry you from Thanksgiving, through Giving Tuesday, and the remainder of the year end. These posts should be included on your donor-focused social media platforms and posted regularly throughout the duration of your campaign. Include powerful stories of impact, pictures of babies, Bible verses, and statistics. They should coordinate with any year-end mailings and emails that you send.
Know when to post. Your Facebook Insights helps you determine when your followers are online and plan posts around that time so they’re more likely to see them. You can also pay to boost your posts to increase the likelihood more of your donors will see them.
Step #6: Giving Tuesday
Finally, you can incorporate Giving Tuesday into your year-end plan to maximize your success. As Giving Tuesday has grown in popularity, more of your donors will anticipate being asked to give on this day, by you and other non-profits in their circles.
Choose a project to focus on that is attainable and that connects them to the heart of your mission, giving them a compelling reason to donate to your campaign.
Send one or two emails leading up to GivingTuesday letting your donors know about your specific project. Make sure to include the hashtag #GivingTuesday on all your social posts on this day and utilize cohesive, eye-catching imagery.
You can often increase the total giving amount on this day if you are able to secure a matching gift. It helps motivate people to give even small amounts knowing their donation will be doubled.
You Can Create a Year-End Fundraising Plan That Works
Following these steps and being disciplined to make this a part of each day for the next few weeks, you will reap the reward of raising more funds than you raised last year at year end. Your supporters love your mission and they are ready to give, you just have to have the courage and persistence to ask.
If you need additional support with year-end fundraising, please reach out to us at email@example.com. Our team would love to help you create a successful plan!