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5 Easy Ways Community Foundations Can Improve Year-End Giving

Posted by WizeHive on November 16, 2017

A smart Giving Tuesday plan can kick off your biggest fundraising days of the year.

Most community foundations struggle to match their previous year’s donations, let alone increase year over year.

But we don’t like starting with a downer, so here’s a much more hope-inducing fact for you instead: 40% of all giving occurs between Giving Tuesday and year-end.

That’s … impressive. That’s also helpful if you are currently finding yourself in the majority of that first fact. While there may only be a few weeks left of the year, you still have a great chance of increasing your 2017 donations.

Since its start in 2012, Giving Tuesday has kicked off a season of charity and philanthropy that can make the difference in not only achieving your fundraising goals, but in accomplishing all you wish to in the coming year. And while yes, the spirit of the season does seem to have a hand in all this, your efforts during these waning days of the year are also crucial in seeing the biggest benefit possible. Here are five simple steps to keep you focused.

  1. Set a realistic goal. Goals are set to inspire us and keep us determined. But they also are set to be met. Look at your donations for the year so far, what you achieved in 2016, and what you initial hopes for 2017 were, and decide exactly how much you think you can achieve in these last few weeks. Your number should keep you working, but not set you up for failure. If you need a particular amount to not just hit a goal but to make a planned initiative or program happen, make that clear.
  2. Pick a story to share. Stories connect and encourage, explain and inspire. They are one of the most powerful vehicles you have at your disposal to not only help people understand the mission of your foundation, but to demonstrate the true impact you can make. But while you may think multiple tales, facts, and figures would be most helpful, this is a case in which less is more. You are but one small team (or, in many cases, individual), and you only have a few weeks. Spend your time wisely by finding one strong story and crafting it with care.
  3. Create communications for each potential donor group. Sometimes what you need to pull everything together is a little segmentation. Think about each kind of donor -- new vs previous, corporate vs individual. Think about the vehicle that would speak most to them, the language they would most respond to. Appeal to their interests, understanding of your foundation, and realistic giving ability. Then create each communication just for them. The extra effort here will not only increase engagement, but create a great appreciation for your organization and what you do.
  4. Encourage your staff and board to donate. They pour time time and energy into your foundation, but perhaps it’s not enough. These are the individuals who know the ins and outs of your mission and programs, and if you have not been able to move them to contribute, how can you expect to convert a stranger? Sharing in your communications that 100% of your staff and board give shows strength, and will help donors feel more confident contributing as well.
  5. Give extra care and thanks to previous donors. The average donor retention rate year over year for community foundations is only 46%. This isn’t because these donors no longer believe in your cause or programs -- it’s often because they have grown unengaged. Donors who are more satisfied with their community foundation are more likely to indicate that they plan to continue giving and more likely to recommend the foundation to others. While year-round thanks and clear explanations of the impact their dollars have made is ideal, reaching out now is terribly important. Thank them personally -- a handwritten note or a phone call. Include a sticky note with your Giving Tuesday collateral pointing out how they had a role in the story you are highlighting. Give them real numbers to hold on to -- how the same donation as last year will allow you to further a program or how just X amount of dollars will help you reach a goal and provide a new scholarship or grant. Be as transparent and human as possible to position them as a true partner.

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