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November 4, 2020 Amy Sewell

For most organizations, the month of December brings in about 30-40% of their annual online giving. It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that the last week of the year has the biggest impact on online fundraising. And it makes sense—when donors have a limited amount of time to send a gift to your organization, online giving is there for convenience and ease to put their gift to work instantaneously.  Even still, most fundraisers are not aware of just how massive an impact this week truly has on hitting this online fundraising goal . . .

But there’s a bit of a catch—it’s a highly competitive week. Most donors support multiple organizations, and each one of those organizations is likely to step up their asks during the final week of the calendar year.

So, what do you do to make sure donors give to your cause?

  1. You communicate. If there was ever a time to increase your communication frequency on social media and email messaging, this is it! Inboxes are full, so your message from a day or two ago will get lost. Also, donors are typically forgiving during this time of the year—meaning unsubscribe rates don’t generally spike with the message increase as long as it’s temporary. Have your messages be full of gratitude, tie their gift directly to a cause or mission to remind them why they give, and emphasize the importance of giving right NOW.
  2. Stand out in the inbox.  Try sending from different email addresses and people within your organization. A new voice could mean a new open. Try new tactics like emojis in subject lines to make your messages feel different than what’s normal.  Vary your timing—62% of all messages sent for the day are in inboxes by 9 AM. If you want to stand out, try sending around lunchtime or in the late afternoon—anytime someone might have a break in the day to open your message.
  3. Start now. Lay the groundwork, right now, for your success in the last week of the year by testing things like new senders, subject line tactics, and send times to figure out what will help boost your open rates and response. Have a donation form problem that’s been causing conversion rate issues?  Now is the time to fix it (see our past article on donation form optimization online at douglasshaw.com). Have a relatively small email list compared to those you reach in the mail or on other channels? Start giving them reasons to give you their email addresses, like free resources or newsletter opt-ins. The more you can talk to them in December, the better you’ll do.

With all you’ve faced this year, December might seem like something you can deal with later.  But I encourage you to do what you can now—because now is when you lay the groundwork to be successful when the final weeks come that can truly make or break your online fundraising for the year.

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