Top Fall Fundraising Tips

by Heather Fignar

It’s the beginning of September, and we’re already in the midst of fall fundraising campaigns for our nonprofit clients. This is an important time of year for fundraisers, because approximately 50% of all money raised from individuals comes in during the last 2 months of the year.

We know your major strategies are already in place, but here are some tips from our staff that may help you improve your result:

  1. Anniversary donors. These are people who give every fall or have given during the fall season in previous years. Treat them like the valuable supporters that they are. Use live stamps or first-class postage. Use handwriting on their mailings. Send them cultivation communications at the start of this time of year, or use appropriate copy that recognizes their holiday season giving.
  2. Integrated campaigns. Give your donors the opportunity to respond using whatever channel they prefer: mail, email, web, phone, mobile, social media. If you aren’t currently creating integrated campaigns, try this approach for your year-end campaign. Read a case study on an integrated year-end campaign.
  3. Milestone mailings. Every year, there is a segment of your support base who reaches a noteworthy level of giving – e.g. 10 years, 20 gifts, $1,000 of lifetime giving. These loyal donors deserve to be acknowledged. This type of recognition can increase participation levels … and is a wonderful donor-focused stewardship practice. Never, never let your donors feel they are taken for granted. Personalized appreciation avoids that anxiety from creeping into their thinking.
  4. Mail earlier AND later. Mail delivery is getting slower. In 2011, nonprofit mail is arriving in-home at least one week slower than previous years. So, mail your holiday appeals earlier. However, email and social media posts must be time-sensitive, so send those closer to the actual holidays and year-end.
  5. Be donor-aware. On August 31, I received an email from a human services organization in New England asking me to give to their Thanksgiving campaign. There was no mention of the historic flooding that was happening throughout the region as a result of Hurricane Irene. The news and all my social media feeds were talking about 2 things: back to school and hurricane clean up. Thanksgiving wasn’t even on my radar. Schedules are important, but being sensitive to your donors’ lives is imperative. Are your upcoming communications donor-focused?

You’ll note that most of these tips are donor-centric. Your donors say “yes” more often in the fall. We think that they should be celebrated for that. The potential result: increased revenue per donor and increased retention rates.

Heather Fignar is vice president at Amergent; courtesy.