Even though we’re still in the heat of the summer, the upcoming year-end giving season is on the minds of many fundraisers. Many are asking themselves how they can best position their organizations for success during this important time, as year-end fundraising campaigns represent crucial revenue opportunities. They even help to set the tone for nonprofits as they move into 2024.
Thus far, 2023 has been an uneven year for the nonprofit sector. Factors outside of fundraisers’ control have affected donor acquisition efforts. The uncertain economy has meant that the spending confidence of both donors and organizations has been tested. These qualms—amongst many other factors—are pointing to a cautious outlook on the year-end giving season, which may not see significant year-over-year gains compared to 2022.
The good news is that there are strategies that nonprofits can implement to ensure that they reach the right donors, meet their fundraising goals, and run campaigns that produce the most possible revenue this year-end giving season. Let’s take a look at some of the unique challenges that nonprofits will face in their year-end fundraising campaigns and what they can do to overcome them.
Year-End Giving Season Challenges
The economic pressures that have persisted throughout 2023 are likely to continue into the year-end giving season, making them the biggest challenge that fundraisers will need to navigate. Many low- to mid-level donors have decreased their giving. Acquisition and response rates are generally trending downward for nonprofits industry-wide. While year-end is the peak donor acquisition season for many nonprofits, there will be even more competition this year as fundraisers work to reach a smaller pool of ready-to-give donors.
Fundraisers will also need to carefully navigate promotions to their existing donors this year-end giving season. Many have begun to see a large number of the donors that they acquired during the peak years of the pandemic go inactive. This means that nonprofits could have fewer core donors with at least two years of consistent giving going into the year-end season, which could make year-over-year revenue growth difficult.
Strategies for Optimizing Year-End Fundraising Campaigns
These challenges can feel daunting, but there are strategies that fundraisers can implement to achieve their year-end campaign goals. The first step is to engage with data partners, agencies, and analytics teams to gain all the best insights and resources to be positioned for success. Fundraising efficiency is especially important during the year-end giving season, and the right partners can help fundraisers identify the best data-driven solutions to maximize the ROI of every campaign.
Here are five things that fundraisers should keep in mind as they work with their partners to strategize and execute their year-end fundraising campaigns:
- Don’t give up on acquisition marketing.
Despite today’s donor acquisition challenges, it’s crucial that nonprofits invest in reaching high-value prospective donors during this important season. This is where using the best donor data is vital. The best predictor of future giving behavior is past giving behavior and, when your acquisition campaign strategies and audiences are founded on this high-quality data, you’re more likely to reach new donors who will give now and provide high long-term value.
- Cultivate existing donor files to boost revenue.
Alongside effective acquisition campaigns, fundraisers should also be focusing on fully optimizing their relationships with their existing donors. With the right optimization tools—and there are many innovative methodologies available—fundraisers can run high-performing campaigns focused on increasing giving from existing donors, reactivating lapsed donors, determining optimal asks, and much more.
- Embrace a multichannel fundraising strategy.
Getting the message out across multiple channels keeps a nonprofit top-of-mind during the giving season as people consider their year-end donations. Pairing fundraising channels in coordinated campaigns—such as digital/direct mail co-targeting—is a proven method for improving results. Digital display advertising and connected TV are two channels in particular that we predict many nonprofits will explore further this year-end giving season.
- Explore multi-touch attribution strategies.
For nonprofits running multichannel fundraising campaigns, one of the common challenges is determining an effective revenue attribution method to understand campaigns’ impacts. Attribution is more critical than ever, and it is perhaps one of the biggest challenges going into the year-end giving season. But it is also one of the biggest opportunities. Instead of relying on single-touch attribution (first-touch or last-touch), work with your data partner or agency to explore a multi-touch attribution strategy. This will help you make more informed multichannel fundraising decisions and better justify fundraising expenditures.
- Don’t stop testing!
Testing is the lifeblood of effective fundraising. Maintaining a testing mindset during the year-end giving season can yield good results. Whether it’s by developing new creative, using a newly modeled donor audience, or exploring a new fundraising channel, testing is vital to optimizing your results. Successful nonprofits know that the testing never ends.
I encourage you to lean on your trusted partners as we approach the year-end giving season, be they your agency, analytics teams, or data partners. Despite the challenges of today’s fundraising landscape, it’s possible to have a successful year-end giving season when you use a data-informed strategy. We’re in this together, and here at Wiland, we’re ready to help.