We are well into the final quarter of the year. You know what that means? It means it’s time to start thinking about your Year End Giving Strategy. I know, I know…you’re thinking come one Jenn, it’s SEPTEMBER. But truly, it isn’t too early to start thinking about your strategy for the best giving time of year.
I say this every year – but around 31% of ALL GIVING in the States occurs in the month of December. 12% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. And maybe you aren’t singing jingle bells just yet (as I write this it’s a sweltering 94 degrees outside – so trust me I’m not either!), but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place.
- In September, October, and early November, it’s great to LASER FOCUS one’s efforts on face to face appointments. If you can, kick it into overdrive and set goals for more appointments and initial contacts than usual! Why? Well, overall it’s one of the easiest times of year to schedule appointments. Summer is over and people are into routine, school is back, people are fresh – they are checking their calendars and not overwhelmed with plans. Plus, coffee dates are even more appealing with pumpkin spice lattes (amiright?!?)!
- Toward the holidays there are additional touches you can create to show your existing team you care as well as generate some excitement and cash gifts. After Thanksgiving, let things shift a bit from business as usual (while still reaching out for F2F appointments).
- Build out your Year End Giving Strategy BEFORE Thanksgiving. If you let it slide until after Thanksgiving, you’ll most likely miss out on some strategic opportunities due to poor planning.
- September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. Lots of churches schedule services far in advance so calling in September or October may get you service in January or February 2020. If you wait to reach out to a pastor/church until November or December, you may get radio silence until January due to the church’s busy holiday schedule.
With all of that being said, here’s a break down on some specific ideas for Year End Giving.
1. FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A
The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia / info on your assignment, questions for the audience, and time to let them as you questions. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand. Consider doing one somewhere towards the beginning-ish of November. Here are some thoughts on a Facebook Live from a worker who did one last year:
REFLECTIONS ON A FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A:
“I used my iPhone because it has a better camera than my chrome book. If your laptop has a good camera though, I’d recommend using that because I think it’s easier to the comments that come in. I basically had my computer off to the side reading comments from there. Also FYI if you start the live on your phone vertically you have to keep it that way-it won’t switch over if you turn your phone. I’d recommend starting horizontal.”
“I did giveaways of books. They were just what I had on hand as I thought of giveaways last minute. I had a prayer book for XX as well as some of the books from my ministry.”
“My trivia was how I did the giveaways. Some was about me and my testimony and others were about the country.”
“I announced it a couple days ahead of time, and went Live the day before just for a few minutes to make sure everything worked well. You can also practice going Live on your own feed by setting your security settings to “only me”. I did that just to set up the lighting, and to make sure my background was not too distracting. I also think it would be helpful, if you had somebody reading the comments to you. As a single gal, I was wishing that I had asked somebody to do that for me in the midst of it. Also, my parents had come up with quite a few questions that I had on hand just in case people were not engaging, or the questions lagged for a minute.”
2. GIVING TUESDAY
Giving Tuesday, which occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a day for non-profits and others raising funds to solicit donations. It is a GREAT DAY to post something online asking friends and family to give.
The example below is from a family who was going to a sensitive location. For Giving Tuesday they set a specific goal of $1,000 to go to pre-school and language learning. They promoted throughout the day (and prior!) by posting multiple times it on their Secret Facebook Group, which was comprised of people who were already a part of their team either in prayer and/or finances. They also created a post prior to Giving Tuesday on their regular Facebook page, asking if anyone was interested in hearing more about their journey. Then they added those interested parties to their Secret Facebook Group so that they could see the posts.
Do you want to know if they made their goal? Screen shots of their posts and progress are below. For security purposes I am not sharing the totality of their ADORABLE video, however, I did write down their script and have it below. It’s a great example of how you can raise over $1,000 in cash in ONE SINGLE DAY with a little bit of effort and excitement. By the way, the Smiths were EXCELLENT at face to face appointments and had a solid team in place by the time Giving Tuesday was in place. You may think Giving Tuesday wouldn’t work for an already established team…but see below for the results!
VIDEO SCREEN SHOTS:
Jason: “Hi guys, we are the Smith family. This is baby Justin, my wife Sara, and I’m Jason. Justin just turned 1 year old yesterday (all: YAY!) We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!”
Sara: “After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday if there is anything left in your bank account today is what is called “Giving Tuesday”. It’s an opportunity to bless people who are in the process of raising money. Many of you know that we are moving to X in the spring and we have been in the process of raising our monthly budget. But we also have to raise a cash budget up front. We are asking our friends and family on Facebook to consider giving us a cash gift of $25. Our goal is to raise $500 for Justin’s school and $500 for our language learning training for a total of $1,000 in just 1 DAY! You can give towards Justin’s school which will give him the opportunity to learn language, learn the culture, and make friends. Or today you could choose to give to our language training which will give us the opportunity to learn X and connect with people in their language.”
Jason: “Now it’s super easy to give, all you have to do is click the link and it will take you straight to the page where you can give. Then if you would send us a Facebook Message telling us which of these two things you gave towards – that way we can keep a running tally. Otherwise we won’t know for a couple of days, and that’s way less exciting.”
Sara: “Thank you friends for your generosity we appreciate you more than words can say.”
Both: “Happy Giving Tuesday!”
*funny bloopers with Justin and family at the end
*graphics displayed on video about link with arrows, Giving Tuesday, and Thank You.
*fun music in the background – light and airy.
3. NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER
Send out a regular newsletter at the beginning of November, even if you have done one recently.
- Keep it to 1 page – be brief.
- Keep it ministry focused with specific stories.
- Use it to promote any Facebook Live or Giving Tuesday efforts you will be doing.
- Say thank you!
- Don’t do any asks on this newsletter.
4. CHRISTMAS CARD / YEAR END LETTER
Do Christmas cards along with a year end letter sometime before December 31st (think about sticking it in the mail the day after Thanksgiving). I think it’s a good idea in some circumstances (see below for more on this) to bundle these two and stick them in the mail together, the card of course being Christmasy with the year end letter inside. Send these out to your existing financial and prayer partner list.
Include the following components:
- Merry Christmas greeting.
- Express your authentic thankfulness for your support team. Emphasize and focus your letter on the impact your partners are having.
- Percentage update of where you are at raising your funds.
- A gift-wrappy-Christmasy-wonderful-snowy graphic that has your organization’s giving website / ways to give. (Make it pretty – I made the one to the right in 5 minutes using Canva.com)
- An actual ask in the letter for finances (yep, this is the only time of year I say go for it on a letter!). Consider making it about one story of a life changed or need.
- Do a nice handwritten PS.
Tips for year end letter:
- Switch this up from a regular newsletter. Use a slightly different template than a regular newsletter and make it more like a letter.
- Don’t send an ask year end letter to anyone who recently started giving, just gave one time recently, or just increased their giving. (probably within the past 6 months). Just send them Christmas cards instead. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many asks.
- Consider creating a different version of your year end letter to those who haven’t started giving yet or didn’t give when asked. Change particulars as needed for the audience.
- Perhaps for people who have said that they can’t give- give them a soft opportunity to give. Change the thankfulness for being on your support team and instead thank them for their prayers and involvement in your life.
- For those you haven’t yet met with, change the particulars to reflect your desire to meet with them soon and thank them for the involvement in your life. You may want to include a soft ask but not as bold as to those you send it to who you’ve already met with.
- Snail mail your year end letter.
- Keep it to 1 page make it look really nice!
5. FACE TO FACE NOW!
Have as many face-to-face appointments as you can NOW. Generally speaking, it’s the best time for F2F in October and early November. People are into their routines and willing to give. In November and December are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for F2F appointments? Sure, time for interaction may level off the weeks of holidays but experience has taught me that it can also be a GREAT time for face-to-face appointments; particularly if you are in from out of town and catching up with family members or old friends! Don’t stop reaching out to connect with people over coffee and making the ask. Some tips:
- Try and ask them for a F2F early. Give them a couple of extra weeks to put it in their calendar.
- Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
- Make it about them when you meet as much as it is about you. Ask questions and get excited about who they are.
- Send a thank you card within 48 hours after you meet – regardless of responses!
- If you cannot reach someone toward the holidays, don’t sweat it. Try reaching out to them again in January.
- Pay for their coffee.
6. SMALL GIFTS
Send your members of your partnership team small gifts. December is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Go above and beyond that newsletter!
7. FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN
A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook Campaign can be helpful during these months of giving. Consider creating a Facebook Campaign in October, November, or December if you haven’t already done one recently. Keep in mind, this is advisable only if you have gotten far enough in your financial partnership (75-80%) to start one. Also, for Facebook Campaigns don’t do one for the end of the year if you already plan on doing Giving Tuesday and a Facebook Live Q&A. Try to pick between Giving Tuesday posts + a Facebook Live Q&A, or doing a Facebook Campaign. It’s best to NOT do all a couple of weeks apart so that you don’t over saturate your social media audience.
8. EMAIL AFTER CHRISTMAS
Send out an email on December 29th or 30th. Include the following.
- Greeting of Happy New Year for your partners
- Remind them of your ministry as they execute their giving.
- Use that christmasy-graphic and update it to be new-years-y with a clickable link on giving online.
- Don’t include a formal ask. Just thank yous’ and the graphic on how to give online.
- Stay consistent with your goals and shoot for a multi-channel approach. The secret sauce for creating a successful year end strategy is all about sequence. What does that mean? Essentially, sequence is you creating a goal and using that message/goal consistently to create a multi-channel integrated approach. Your goal should be consistent across any blogs or websites, social media, email, and written mail.
- Have your strategy in place and communication pieces written BEFORE November.
- Sequence maximizes the return on your effort and time investment. Stay consistent.
- Try to get a hook when creating your goals. Maybe an image, theme, tagline, story.
- Try to be eye-catching. Be compelling.
- Less is more. The fewer words the better. Try to keep letters, etc. personal and short. Keep videos as short, fun, and informative as possible.
- Don’t send a year end letter to anyone who just started giving, gave a special gift, or increased their giving in the last six months. Just send them a Christmas card.
- Customize two different letters: one for on-going financial partners, one for non-givers.
- In your wording, focus on the partner. Example: “There is hope, and that hope is you.” Talk about how your partners make the world better with their gift: “You gave 50 kids the gift of Jesus last year with your donation, and now you can do more.” The partner and the partnership between you becomes the hero of this story. Acknowledge their important role in your mission.
- Don’t let your partners only hear “asks” from you. Be sure you stay on top of personal communication. The routine newsletter that arrives in early November will be helpful – 1 page with pictures, ministry focused with specific stories. But get beyond that and reach out in micro relational ways to your team.