Wow, 2020. We could all use a little break.
Millions are out of work, and businesses all across the country have suffered in ways they never anticipated during this past year. According to what Yelp has been tracking among small-to-medium businesses, over half that have had to close their doors will be unable to reopen even after pandemic restrictions are lifted.
As the economy ground to a halt, nonprofits have felt the pinch as well. People need the help that nonprofits provide, but those who are struggling with their personal finances simply aren’t able to give as generously as they once did.
If you are responsible for bringing in donations for a charity, you already understand how important end-of-the-year giving is to your overall budget. Many organizations depend on donations in the last few weeks of the year to fund their activities during the entire rest of the year.
This year especially, it’s critical that nonprofits are able to attract as many donations as possible so they can maximize every dollar that comes their way.
HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE DONATIONS TO YOUR NONPROFIT BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR:
1. USE EVERY TOOL AVAILABLE.
- Letters – There’s a reason direct sales letters are still widely used even though we live in an almost entirely digital world…they work. Be sure to make yours attractive, interesting, and personal to avoid coming across as junk mail. Use lots of stories and images to draw people in.
- Emails – Donors are bombarded with email solicitations (most of which get deleted), but that’s no reason to avoid sending year-end requests. Much like a well-written letter, a good email will get read–and responded to–while others get trashed. Use a strong subject line that captivates your reader. Then get to the point and keep the rest of your email short to respect their time.
- Postcards – These are a great followup to letters; a quick tangible reminder that keeps you top-of-mind. Use powerful imagery that captures the importance of what you do along with a clear call to action.
- Social Media – Donors are extra busy with holiday activities this time of year, so don’t be shy about being more active on your social media channels than usual. You’ve got to cut through the noise.
2. SAY “THANK YOU”
It may sound like “Manners 101” to remind you of this, but you cannot say “thank you” often enough. In your year-end communications, be sure to tell stories of what has been made possible this past year (in spite of COVID difficulties!) because of their previous donations. Let them know “we simply could not do this without you.”
3. DONATIONS MAKE GREAT GIFTS.
What do you get the person who has everything, or the person who doesn’t need more “stuff”? A donation to an outstanding charity like yours! It’s something they may not have thought of…and it doesn’t require getting out in crowds. With the common struggle of COVID-19, people are likely to be much more sensitive to the needs of those less fortunate right now. Highlight to your donors how a contribution at the end of the year will let everyone–you, them, and the person they give it to–share in the joy of doing good together.
4. REMIND THEM OF SPECIAL TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR 2020.
Since everyone could use a break, be sure to let your supporters know that the IRS is allowing a special tax deduction this year on donations of up to $300. This deduction is “above the line”, so it will instantly reduce Adjusted Gross Income and taxable income.
5. OFFER MULTIPLE WAYS TO GIVE.
While mailing a check may still be the preferred method for some of your backers, most people will appreciate the ability to give quickly and easily. The less friction (i.e. action steps) they face, the more likely they are to follow through and give. Consider these 3 ways:
- Mobile Giving – Make sure the online contribution form on your website is user-friendly regardless of screen size. Make your “Give Now” button prominent in a color that stands out.
- Text-to-Give – By setting up a dedicated phone number and a specific keyword, you can make it extremely easy for donors-on-the-go to send money. Snowball Fundraising is one provider that is recommended for all types of nonprofits.
- Venmo – More and more people use this app to send money, so it’s certainly worth your while to have a presence there. Donors who use it can easily search your organization’s name and send money in seconds. It’s free to use for you, and free for them if they’ve set up their account with a debit card.
BONUS TIP: ASK!
So many people are afraid to simply ask for the donation. No one wants to come across as pushy, greedy, or desperate. But it’s never rude to ask. The key is to be specific and to help them understand how they will be a hero to someone with their gift. For example, you could word the request something like this: “We need X amount of money to go towards X project, and your gift will help make that possible. Can you donate X amount today?”
Hopefully, as 2020 draws to a close, you will find plenty of goodwill coming your way through the generosity of the people you reach out to. If we can help you further, don’t hesitate to reach out!