January is often a time for development offices to reflect on their calendar year-end push as well as the current results at (for many) the halfway point of their fiscal year. Whether your numbers are up, down, or flat, here are five ways you can do to boost fundraising results during the winter months:
1. Focus on your 2013 calendar year donors with no gift in calendar year 2014
Pay special attention to donors who gave between July and December 2013. What percentage of those donors renewed by December 2014? Those who have not renewed are probably still LYBUNTS in your database, but notice these donors now missed a calendar year, which could be a red flag!
The same approach can be applied for one-year lapsed donors who gave between January and June 2013. In all of those cases, let the donor know that you specifically noticed they didn’t give during calendar year 2014. It’s a very donor-centric message that simply says to the donor that you paid attention to them.
“Last gift in calendar year 2013” calling pools are perfect targets for your phonathon campaign early in the 2015 calendar year.
2. Incorporate leadership giving “bump up” solicitations
If your organization has a leadership giving society (often starting at the $1,000 level), contact those donors who are at least halfway to that level to let them know their status and to solicit for the additional amount needed. This is also a good way to focus on donors who were not members of your leadership society last year. Not only can you increase your giving society membership counts, but this is also a top target audience for faster increases in dollars.
All of your leadership giving bump up asks should reflect the fact that you appreciate the donor has already made a gift in the current fiscal year. Make all of these communications branded with your giving society and personalize everything in a donor-centric manner.
3. Be aggressive on matching gift communications in January
Contact every donor who made a gift during calendar year 2014 (even if it was in the previous fiscal year) if their database record indicates they work for a matching gift company. Remind and ask these donors to please be sure to get their gifts matched immediately by their company.
Many companies base their matching policies on a calendar year basis, so you can still potentially impact this fiscal year’s giving revenue even though a gift was from last fiscal year. But time could be precious depending on the company’s matching gift timelines and policies.
All of the channels should be considered for this effort – phone, email, direct mail. Whenever possible, provide the donor with at least the date(s) and amount(s) of their gift(s). This will make it easier on the donor and eliminate one potential barrier to them not submitting their company request form.
How much money is at stake? Based on information from HEPData, in 2013, the average total matching gift dollars received by colleges and universities was $210,920 with a grand total of more than $3.1 billion matched. Be sure to get your share of that pie!
4. Solicit new sustaining donors
If you have a monthly giving program, add a focus over the next couple of months on acquiring new sustaining donors to increase both your donors and dollars. Not only are these programs good for overall results, but getting them into the sustainers club at your institution should put them in a stronger stewardship category.
Shorter term lapsed and recent alumni non-donors are recommended targets. Be careful about soliciting LYBUNTS as you may accidentally downgrade their overall fiscal year giving. Also, make at least one of your suggested monthly dollar amounts capable of putting the donor in an appropriate giving society.
Once again, multiple channels can be used. Dedicate some phonathon time to these segments. Email is easy to do, and provide the link to your electronic sign-up form. Incorporate sustainer asks in your next direct mail cycle as well.
5. Send a short thank you video to your donors from the 1st half of your fiscal year
January and February are great times on the calendar to cultivate and steward donors, and it is widely predicted that video marketing will take a huge leap in 2015. Donors of all ages are watching videos and engaging with their favorite activities and causes. It’s not limited to just GenX or Millennials. A short video can be recorded anywhere anytime, and quickly uploaded to your YouTube channel.
To maximize impact, keep the video under 3 minutes and make sure the video is mobile friendly. As an added bonus, after you email the video directly to donors, post a thank you message with a link to share the video via Twitter and Facebook!
As always, be sure to track whatever you implement. This is critical not only to evaluate the success of your efforts, but also to apply lessons learned about your specific donor audience into your future plans.
For tips on boosting your Calendar Year-End fundraising results, read our blog post titled “Your Fiscal Year Just Ended. Time to Start Looking at Calendar Year-End?”.
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