We are well into the final quarter of 2020, which for most has been a very difficult year. But before we say bye-bye to Blursday 2020, we have what are statistically speaking the two best giving months of the year – November and December. That’s right folks…Put it on your to-do list! It’s time to start thinking about your Year End Giving Strategy and I’ve got 8 ideas with a lot of detail to help you think through yours!
I say this every year – but around 30% of ALL GIVING in the United States occurs in the month of December. 12-13% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. And maybe you aren’t singing jingle bells just yet but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place NOW.
- 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, though we have yet to see what the fall of 2020 is going to do in the midst of the pandemic, typically speaking 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 checking their calendars and not overwhelmed with plans. Scheduilng appointments this year needs to incorporate a question of what an individual is comfortable with as far as meeting. And as we approach the colder months of the year it’s possible that meeting safely outside is not an option for people who are being cautious, thus Zoom would become the place to be! That’s GREAT. Don’t hold off on meeting with someone because it’s on Zoom. Go ahead and Zoom the night away. Okay? Okay.
- 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.
- Build out your Year End Giving Strategy BEFORE Thanksgiving. Think it through and start working on it in October. If you let it slide until after Thanksgiving, you’ll most likely miss out on some strategic opportunities due to poor planning.
- Typically speaking (2020 is not typical), September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. If churches are scheduling for their services whether streaming or live – churches typically schedule services months in advance so calling in September or October may get you service in January or February 2021. 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. Here are some additional thoughts on reaching out to churches in the midst of the weird pandemic space they are in right now.
- Consider creating a specific goal for all of your Year End Giving and try a multichannel approach that all work together to support that specific goal. Maybe you want to raise $3,000 for your language learning costs, get $200 in new monthly support, or reach 75% funded. Just make sure it is reasonable and attainable.
With all of that being said, here’s a break down on some specific ideas for your Year End Giving strategy.
1. FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A
The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia and information on your assignment, and questions from the audience. 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.”
Facebook Lives is a fun way for people to hear more about your assignment, get information, build up some hype. Think of them more as a space to get people interested or hear more, but not for asks. I think it’s fine during a Facebook Live to mention you are raising up a team of supporters and to tell them to please DM or comment if interested in joining some aspect of your team, provide the giving information needed, etc. It may also be a great way to kick off or end a Facebook Campaign– but typically Lives are not the place to push direct asks.
Pro tip 1: This also could be an Instagram Live if that’s a pretty robust space for you and your followers.
Pro tip 2: There are ways to go Live without ruining any security risks. Think through ways to keep things safe such as using your closed group only to host the Live, or use a safe account. Whatever you do make sure to touch base with your leadership to follow protocols.
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. Giving Tuesday donations has risen 143% in the last 7 years.
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. BRILLIANT.
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 came. 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 a very hearty 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.
- Try to stay away from “I” language and use “we” language instead. Example: “I need $500 more in monthly support” to “In order to keep this ministry to the United School in South Africa and impact people like Miles, we are looking for $500 more in monthly support.” Answer the question “What difference will this make in someone’s life?”
- 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!
In November and December are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for F2F appointments? Yeah, don’t do that. 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 (I use face-to-face arbitrarily – that could mean virtually) appointments; particularly if you are in from out of town and catching up with family members or old friends! Are we going to be meeting with our families this year?! Who knows! But don’t stop reaching out to connect with people 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. Don’t let your appointment become a monologue.
- 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 if you meet in person.
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, in general for Facebook Campaigns I think it’s best not to 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.
- Get creative! These aren’t the only ways to utilize this season, just some ideas I’ve seen work very well.
- 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.
Here’s posts from a couple who did both a Facebook Live Q&A and Giving Tuesday: