The festive period is a perfect time to launch a year-end appeal (in fact, unless you work to the academic calendar it's pretty much the only time), but it's also the perfect time to review your fundraising activities ready for the following year. I've always been a fan of trying to clear my to-do list for the start of the year so I'm going to keep my suggestions to my top three tip or ways you can set yourself up to raise more money over the next year.
Reach out to past donors
When you turn your computers on after seeing in the new year with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne and a few drinks look back at who donated in 2019 but not in 2020. There could be any number of reasons they didn't give in 2020, maybe they simply forgot or their personal situation didn't allow them to. Don't just look at everyone who's ever given you money. Look for your large donors and your regular donors, these are the ones that are most likely to answer your new year call.
Once you've got your list of past donors send them a personalised appeal or give them a phone call. Thank them from your previous support and let them know you miss them. This is your opportunity to tell them how much their support meant and what sort of work it allowed you to do. Then you make your ask; would you like to support our work again. If they say no, don't be upset. Use this as your opportunity to find out why they stopped donating to you. Listen to what they say and learn from it. If they say yes to donating to you again it's time to:
Talk about monthly regular giving
A great way to increase the amount you raise from each donor (and, in management terms, to get a bigger return on investment) is to have a monthly or recurring giving programme. Industry research suggests that the retention rate for recurring donors may be as high as 90% - much higher than any other type of donor. The only type of giving which may have a higher return rate in high-profile annual appeals like the Poppy Appeal and Children in Need.
If you don't get people to sign up for recurring giving when they start donating then your best bet is to wait until they've donated two or three times to you. At this point they've shown a commitment to your organisation and your mission. When you're identifying people who are likely to be good prospects for your recurring donor programme it's best to look at people who have given multiple times outside of your big appeal times. Taking our earlier example of the Poppy Appeal, the Royal British Legion's highest profile time is in October and November each year so their strongest prospects for recurring giving will be the people who give to them in April and May.
If you aren't doing it already, why not add an option to give regularly onto your donation forms on your website and anywhere else you have them.
The two Rs
The basic skills taught in schools are sometimes (although not anymore) referred to as the three Rs: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. When talking about fundraising you can drop it down to two Rs: Retention and Relationships.
It's easier and cheaper to keep your donors than it is to find new ones. That might seem like commonsense but ask any in-house fundraiser and they'll tell you that their donor retention rates are awful. Getting new donors and supporters costs money but no one has quite cracked the code when it comes to donor retention. The easiest way to boost your retention is (if you hadn't guessed) by building relationships.
Building relationships with your donors and supporters starts with saying thank you. For low-level donors a simple thank you email might be enough, but for your recurring donors you're going to need regular ways of keeping in touch like a newsletter or regular updates from your trustees or leadership. For you bigger donors you might want to take it a bit further with a thank you event.
Use your networks
What better way to see in the new year than by announcing a new ambassador or patron? If you've already got an ambassadors scheme then use the new year as a way to bring new life into it. Even without announcing new ambassadors you can ask your existing ambassadors to film new year videos or create content that you can share now or throughout the year. It's also a perfect time to remind your ambassadors how important they are to you by sending them a small thank you gift for their support during the previous year.
Remember, ambassadors don't have to be celebrities. Charities have great success with ambassador schemes built on people that are known in the area they work, like The Scouts' Scout Adventurers scheme. You could also try a business ambassador scheme, or how about youth ambassadors.
Remember, Marcus Associates are commited to building relationships between charities and their community. If you're looking for support starting an ambassadors scheme get in touch to see how we can help you.