Year End Giving for Event Fundraisers
Part 2 of 2: Year End Campaign Planning for Event Fundraisers
Yesterday, I reviewed some of the reasons why engaging your event’s participants and donors in year end giving is a smart idea. Today, I’m going to give you some practical tips and tricks to help you get started on planning your event’s end-of-year campaign.
What’s typically included in a basic end of year campaign?
A basic end of year campaign includes a series of fundraising solicitations starting on the day after Thanksgiving and run through New Year’s Eve. For events, I’d recommend you use your event branding to guide the look and feel of your year end communications and that you focus on your online communication channels - Email, Website and Social Media.
Steps to Kick Start your event’s Year End Campaign:
- Ensure event fundraising is open Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. For fall events, this may require you to keep fundraising open through the end of the year. For spring events, this may mean that you should open your event registration prior to the Thanksgiving holidays. If this is not an option, then direct people to your organizations general donation form or to the form that is being used for your general year end giving form.
- Coordinate with your traditional giving peers. If your office is already running an end of year campaign, be sure to coordinate with your development peers to ensure that you are coordinating your messages. The goal of your work is to compliment, not compete with the efforts of the other fundraising groups within your organization.
- Develop a documented communication plan. Assuming that you are already documenting a communication plans for your event, this EOY communication planning should be an addition to your overall event communications. Focus on email as the driving force behind of your year end strategy, which are reinforced through social media updates.
Communication Timing: Your first email and all your website & donation form content updates should be completed on Black Friday. Additional email updates can be scheduled sproatically through out the 6 week window. The week between Christmas & New Year's is also critical. Be sure to schedule an email for the last business day before New Years Eve and also for New Year's Eve.
Primary Audiences: current participants, past participants who haven't registered, current donors and past donors who have not contributed. It's really important that you tailor your messages based on the relationship that the prospective donor has to your event and your organization. Depending on your level of comfort with your email tools, this may require that you conditionalize content within a single email or that you send multiple emails.
- Socialize the your communication plan internally. This ensures that others within your organization are knowledgable of your activities and also help eliminate the chance that you might be overlapping year end communications with your other development peers.
Tip from the Pros: Be sure to include donors to both the event's end of year campaign or your traditional giving group's campaign in your email exclusion groups. The quickest way to annoy your donors is to send requests once they have already contributed to your organization.
- Create your Year End campaign content. By the nature of their relationship to your event’s participants & donors have a unique reference point to your organization, you should be focusing on the unique aspects of that relationship. I'd recommend centering in on 2 for 1 nature of year end gift to peer-to-peer fundraising program. Their tax-deductible gift can supporting a loved one, while at the same time supporting your mission. My colleague Ken Cantu posted this clever mad libs year end template to help you nail down the content basics.
Unique Year End Campaign Ideas for Events:
Build out your content. Build out emails, develop website updates and document your social media posts in advance. Many email and website content tools like Luminate Online and Sphere allow you to actually build out and schedule emails or website updates. Taking care of this during the Fall will take pressure off of creating assets in the middle of the campaign or, even better, allow you to enjoy your vacation while your Year End Campaign is on auto-pilot.
Embrace your inner nerd and run some reports. I’m a HUGE advocate for using data to determine campaign successful and opportunities for improvement. For Year End Campaigning, focus on comparing stats year over year stats from the specific time period that you were running the year end campaign, in theory this would be from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Some of my favorite metrics for measuring Year end campaigns are total event fundraising, donation counts and average gift amount. Think about tracking these data points day by day basis, then overlaying your communication schedule. This will help you determine which specific messages, posts or tweets generated the most traffic for your campaign.
- Email your current participants reminding them to contribute to their own fundraising
- Email last year’s donors who have not given this year encouraging them to donate this year
- Include an request to register in your email to past participants who haven't registered
- Email last year’s participants who haven’t registered this year – You can’t attend this year? Donate instead!
- Place a self donation link in the participant center
- In emails to donors, provide a link to the participant search screen in addition to the event donation form
- Create a sense of urgency in social media posts by focusing on the # of days until New Year's
What are your event's plans for the end of year soliciations? We'd love to hear what has worked for you or see some of your appeals, tell me about them in the comment area below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Year End Giving for Event Fundraisers
Part 1 of 2: Why Year End Giving is a Smart Strategy for P2P Fundraisers
Last weekend Houston experienced our first “cold front” of the fall. I use parathesis here because “cold” for SE Texas in early September means the high temperatures were only in the lower 90’s, which I'll admit is not really cold. While it’s still hot here, the cooling weather is a nice reminder that fall is hear and the holidays are quickly approaching. For nonprofit orgs and higher ed institutions, cooling temps of early fall are also a reminder that year end giving is about to kick into high gear.
As an event fundraiser, I mistakenly viewed year end giving as an isolated campaign ran by our traditional giving development staff that didn’t really have anything to do with my events. Since I was leading fall event campaigns, the holidays in November & December were a nice down time immediately following the busy event season devoted to planning and a couple weeks of well-deserved vacation time. This was a huge missed opportunity for my events, like rejecting a stack of cash that was handed to me with pretty red bow. My siloed thinking blinded me to the fundraising opportunity that could have bolstered my event fundraising during the last 6 weeks of the calendar year.
End-of-year giving is critical for fundraising events for two primary reasons:
- There is a significant number of donors who are motivated by the tax-deductible nature of gift to a nonprofit organization and want to contribute before the close of the calendar year.
- Peer-to-peer or event fundraising provides a unique way for donors to give tax-deductible gift to a charity while also supporting a friend or family member. It’s twice the bang for same dollar!
To further drive home the point that there is a tremendous amount of charitable giving that is taking place during this small window of time from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, I've pulled together a couple stats:
- On average nonprofit organization received 41% of their annual contribution in the last few weeks of the year according to Charity Navigator’s Holiday Giving Guide.
- The average person makes 24% of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year's, according to research from the Center on Philanthropy.
Bottom line… lots of people are donating lots of money during the last six weeks of the year. As an event fundraiser, you want that money to be supporting your event and your organization's mission. You are providing a unique and interesting opportunity for your donors through the P2P giving model that is different than your traditional giving peers. Additionally, by taking a proactive approach to managing year end giving communications, you can help avoid situations where your event participants and event donors feel thier contributions to your event are underappreciated.
Now that you are sold on why incorporating year end giving into your event's fundraising strategy is a smart idea, it's time to come up with a game plan to make your event the attractive option for this pool of donors. Tomorrow, I’ll be highlighting some tips & strategies to take the standard end of year giving model and flip it around to support P2P Fundraising Campaigns in a way that doesn’t compete with your participant’s fundraising efforts and also compliments the efforts of your traditional giving peers.
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35 Ideas to Recognize Top Event Fundraisers
People are motivated to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising events for many reasons. As an event fundraiser, your mission should be to figure what is motivating your most valuable participants (Top Fundraisers & Team Captains) so that you can recognize their fundraising efforts in ways that deepen their relationship to your event and more importantly the mission of your organization. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Early Registration Opportunities – Perfect for events that sell out
2. Work Appropriate Logoed Apparel – Golf Shirts – Great for the guys!
3. Enamel Pins
4. Logoed Water Bottles
5. Top Fundraiser Ball Caps – People love their team t-shirts on event day, compliment that shirt with a cap!
6. Top Fundraiser Socks – Don’t compete with the team t-shirt, compliment it!
7. Top Fundraiser Cycling Jerseys
8. Top Fundraiser T-shirts
9. Top Fundraiser Running singlets
10. Feature their personal stories on your webpage
11. Feature their fundraising tips on your blog, eNewsletter, print materials
12. Access to media opportunities – Going to the radio/TV station? Bring them along with you!
13. Feature them in your Social Media
14. Invite them to blog, tweet or socialize on your channels
15. Special reserved spot at the front of the Starting Line
16. Access to the VIP tent
17. Special Race Numbers or Bibs - Give your #1 Fundraiser a brightly colored #1 Race Bib
18. reserved port-a-potties at start line, route and finish line
19. Reserved showers – Great for multi-day events
20. Exclusive lines - Allow them to skip to the front of the long lines
21. Access to premium food & drinks on Event Day
22. Print their names on a prominently displayed banner
Post-Event / Off Season
23. Handwritten Thank You Notes from your Board President or Executive Director
24. Top Fundraising Trip or Prizes
25. Access to VIP area at other fundraising events, let your top fundraiser from your cycling event hang out at your Walk VIP tent
26. Access to Exclusive Volunteer Opportunities outside the event
27. Invites to an Awards Dinner
28. Invites to other organizational events throughout the year
29. Going to Lobby your legislators? Take them along!
30. Discounts or Free Tickets to other events hosted by your org
31. List out your top fundraisers on your website
32. List out your top fundraisers in your eNewsletter
33. List out your top fundraisers in your Print Newsletter
34. List out your top fundraisers in your Annual Report
35. List out your top fundraisers in a print ad
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Online 3rd Party Fundraising Done Right
In recent weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more interest from event fundraisers on providing online tools to support their third-party or Independent Fundraising Events (IFE.) This topic came up earlier this month at the Run Walk Ride Roundtable discussions in Chicago. You can read more about that discussion along with some tips on how to get your own IFE brand started from my friend Nancy Palo on the Friends Asking Amy blog.
Traditionally, most orgs have only provided support to these types of events using offline channels alone. Typically, the fundraising group signs an agreement, gets permission to use the org’s name/logo in promotional materials and maybe if the event is large enough, maybe a staffer would show up to accept the large check.
As online fundraising has grown in popularity and as traditional run walk ride events have adopted sophisticated online fundraising tools like TeamRaiser or Friends Asking Friends, we’ve seen a trend where third-party fundraisers are now requesting (or demanding) access to similar online fundraising tools to support their independent fundraising event campaigns. When done right, these types of online campaigns can provide a nice complement (and a revenue stream) to your overall peer-to-peer fundraising strategy by providing individuals who are not interested in your traditional staff-driven events with alternative ways to support your organization by hosting their own style of fundraiser.
With all the talk about IFE’s in the air, I wanted highlight one of my favorite orgs, WaterCan, who is using TeamRaiser to help bring online fundraising to their third party fundraisers.
WaterCan is a Canadian organization committed to fighting global poverty by providing access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygene education. They worked with Cathexis Partners to develop an extremely visually compelling website that promotes several types of IFEs; highlights include a 25th Anniversary Campaign (pictured), Kilimanjaro Climbing Event, Donate Your Special Day and (my personal favorite) the Board Challenge. If publically displaying a photo of your board members next to their fundraising totals doesn’t motivate them to fundraise, I’m not sure what will.
There are so many things I love about this website that it’s hard to only pick 2-3 to share with you... so I limited myself to 4.
- Stunning Graphic Design– This site is beautiful and easy to navigate. They have successfully used compelling and moving photography paired with limited text to create a positive, easy user experience that communicates their mission in a loving, respectful way.
- Smart Use of Fundraising Stats - I love how they have displayed their fundraising statistics to include not only their campaign goals and total campaign fundraising, but also how many people have been helped by that fundraising total. Tying fundraising back to the mission of your organization is smart way to motivate your fundraisers. As if it wasn’t smart enough to connect fundraising to their mission, WaterCan has also created a sense of urgency with these stats by including how many days are remaining in the campaign.
- Clear Calls to Action – This site has visually distinguished their calls to action by using bold fonts on yellow buttons/backgrounds. It’s obvious on the screen at a glance where I should click to Donate, Get Involve and Share on Social Media. They use these same visual cues for the secondary calls to action, which appear below the fold and drive me toward the other fundraising opportunities on the site or to an imbedded federal petition.
- What? Did she say federal petition?! Oh yes!! - These guys have done a great job of incorporating the spirit their mission into their website by imbedding an advocacy widget into their fundraising website that asks fundraisers if they would like petition the Canadian government to increase funding for Canada’s foreign water projects. Providing your fundraisers with options like this furthers your mission and deepens the relationships that your fundraisers or donors will have to your org leading to more involvement (and fundraising) in the future. In my eyes, it's a win-win for you and them!
Interested in learning more about third-party fundraising / Independent Fundraising Events? Check out our whitepaper on How to Raise More Money with IFEs.
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Communication Plans for P2P Events
When I joined Convio after 5 years as an event fundraiser, I was first introduced to the Communication Calendar while working with the Event360 and Komen 3-Day Events. It was amazing… and I wished that I’d known about this tool while I was still managing all the communications for my special events!
What’s a Communication Plan?
A Communication Plan is a document containing of all the communications organized by communication channel that your organization (or your fundraising event) is planning to send out during a specified timeframe. This document often lives in a spreadsheet and should be used as guide that is edited or updated as you approach specific milestones. My recommendation (especially for special event communication planning) is that you include all your communication channels in your plan including Print Communications like Save the Date cards or team captain packets, traditional media channels like print advertising or press releases, online channels like email or website and also Social Media channels like Facebook or Twitter.
Check out two sample communication plans in our recently published Social Media Kick Start Guide for P2P Events.
4 Reasons Why Communication Planning is AWESOME
- Right Message / Right Time - It ensures that you are communicating and reinforcing the most important messages at the most important times. Avoid the “How’s the weather?” Facebook post the week of your event and talk about things that are more important to your event’s overall success.
- Reinforce Important Points - It helps you identify areas where you could repurpose content across different communication channels. Marketers often say that a person needs to hear something 7 times before they act on that information. Repurposing content across different channels helps you reinforce the messages, providing message consistency and improving the chances your calls to action will be acted upon.
- Work Smarter - It helps you identify opportunities where you could draft communications early. Things get more hectic as Event Day approaches; these busy times are often when the most important communications should be going out to your participants. Do yourself a favor by drafting as many of these communications in advance as possible. You can always make quick last minute tweaks prior to sending. This is especially true for website updates, emails and blog posts. Social media management tools, like Hootsuite or TweetDeck, can help you schedule those updates in advance.
- What’s Going To Work? TEAM WORK! Recruit volunteers or committee members to help out. Having a clearly documented plan helps you better communicate your expectations and allows you to delegate responsibilities to the trustworthy staff or volunteers within your organization. Be conscious however of how many individuals are involved. It doesn’t take long before you have too many cooks in the kitchen.
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