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5 Tips to Create More Effective Online Fundraising During the Last Week of the Year and Beyond

Published by Riley Young

Did you know that roughly 35% of all online year-end revenue comes in during those last few days of December?

The last week of the year is quickly approaching, but it’s not too late to optimize your fundraising strategy.

Here are 5 quick and actionable ways you can get more donations from your year-end campaign.

And if your plans are already set in stone for the rest of the year, we’re also sharing 5 things that may also prove useful as you make plans for next year.

It’s a tip for now, tip for later sort of thing.

Merry fundraising, friends!

Jump to…

#1. Create urgency with a countdown clock.

Urgency can be a powerful factor in influencing someone to give now.

For the year-end season, a strong way to evoke urgency is to use a countdown clock on your donation page. A countdown clock gives donors a clear indicator that time is running out to give, and can encourage them to donate right away.

In fact, one organization added a countdown clock to their year-end donation page and saw a 61% increase in donations as a result!

But beware of using a countdown clock too soon.

If you use a countdown clock too early in your campaign, it won’t make much of a difference. And it might actually give donors the excuse to put their donation off until later.

In this next year, you can create urgency by using a countdown clock for various giving days, or time sensitive appeals and offers. For example, one organization included a countdown clock at the end of their spring campaign and saw a 21% increase in conversions and an 11% increase in average gift size.

#2. Clarify your incentive to give.

Incentives to give on your donation page can be highly effective to help meet your fundraising goals.

Incentives are not a new reason why someone should give. They don’t articulate a need or the impact a donor can have.  But they might be a reason to give now, rather than later – or to give a higher amount.

A few incentive examples are matching opportunities, a free thankyou gift when you donate, or special perks when you become a monthly donor.

In your year-end campaign, make sure you highlight what a donor gets for giving to you clearly on your donation page.

In fact, one organization offered a free book as a thank you gift for a donation and saw a 92% increase in giving.

In this next year, consider what additional incentives you can test in your ongoing appeals – a limited time opportunity to double your impact, a free book when you give, or exclusive content for recurring donors. But don’t forget! Even with the best incentive, you still need to explain the impact a donor can have with their gift.

#3. Test using a donor goal rather than a financial goal.

Whether your goal is $25K or $1 million, it can be hard for me as a donor to see how my $50 gift makes an impact.

So rather than a revenue goal, test using a goal based on the number of donors for your next campaign.

One organization tested replacing a generic ask with a small, incremental donor goal in their appeal—asking for just 10 people to give $25 or more. This donor goal strategy increased both conversion rate and average gift, leading to 52% more revenue.

Why do we think it works?

  • Well, first it moves the emphasis from an intangible monetary goal and puts it on the donor and empowering their choice. This more personal ask helps keep them—not their wallet—as the hero in this story
  • Psychological concepts like Construal Level Theory also suggest that reducing the cognitive distance between the donor and the goal like this helps to move them from abstract thought to concrete action

Here are some other ways you can use donor goals based on our testing:

  1. Set a goal specific to new monthly recurring donors
  2. Don’t limit yourself to appeals—they work great on stickybars, donation pages, and even social campaigns
  3. Try making the ask amount dynamic based on the donor’s history

So in the coming year, consider how you can help donors connect with their impact in a more personal way. You might just find that asking small can lead to big results.

#4. Communicate why someone should give, not just a deadline.

Every single nonprofit organization is trying to raise money at year-end. And every single nonprofit can claim that your donation is tax deductible.

And if everyone can say the same thing, then these are not reasons why someone should give to you.

The end-of-the-year deadline might be a reason to give now instead of later, but it doesn’t help donors see why they should trust you to make an impact on a cause they care about.

You need to have a strong value proposition.

Clearly articulate why someone should support your cause in your email appeals and on your donation page. Reinforce how your organization is different. Why should someone give to you rather than all the other nonprofits asking for money in their inbox?

In fact, by adding a clear value proposition to their donation page, one organization saw a 35% increase in donations.

And in this next year, consider how you can build trust with your donors all year long. Cultivate them by keeping them connected to your cause. Show them the impact of the work being done. And when it’s time to ask for money, clearly articulate the impact they can make.

#5. Make your call to action super clear.

Have you ever been given a task from your boss with little direction or explanation?

It can be quite frustrating. And if you don’t have clarity, it’s easy to procrastinate.

The same thing can happen when you ask donors to give. If you want them to donate, don’t ask them to “stand with you” or to “give hope” or even to “learn more.” These are all vague calls-to-action.

Instead, be straight forward and ask them to take the next step: to donate.

In one experiment, instead of having donors click a link saying “Find out how you can help”, the organization clearly asked them to make a generous donation. By giving a clear call to action, they saw a 246% increase in donations.

As you kick off the new year, clarity is essential. It’s easy for our communication to get cluttered with calls-to-action: read more, watch this video, donate, etc. Plan your communications to have singular calls-to-action and be clear about what you’re asking someone to do.

Published by Riley Young

Riley Landenberger is Audience Engagement Manager at NextAfter.