year-end fundraising on graphic with jar and dates

Year-End Fundraising Campaigns: Tips + Action Items Based on 2021 Trends

Despite another challenging year, 2021 nonprofit fundraising was up 5.1%, raising a total of $471.44 billion. This gives us good insight into tips for building a strong year-end plan for 2022.

As you begin planning for your year-end fundraising, we wanted to provide some action items and insights based on our findings from 2021. Here’s what we found:

Giving Tuesday

We hear the same concern every year around Giving Tuesday—why bother when the competition is so steep?

While this concern is valid, we see the same thing every year: Giving Tuesday is consistently one of the most important days of the year for online fundraising. Data Commons estimates that 35 million U.S. adults participated in Giving Tuesday 2021, a 6% increase over 2020. While the gain may sound small, it still indicates strong, even growing, interest in Giving Tuesday.

Those who succeeded used tactics such as careful segmentation, compelling offers, donation page testing, and strong campaigns across email, web, and paid media. Those who fell short likely did so due to things like changing strategies, reducing the amount of emails sent, not including matching gift offers, or not even pursuing fundraising during this period.

Giving Tuesday is quickly approaching (November 29), which provides the opportunity for your nonprofit to drive revenue.

Here are a few ideas as you begin preparations:

  • Engage with your existing prospects and donors BEFORE November
  • Get to know new donors and their donation habits (more on that below)
  • Start planning for end-of-year by August
    • This includes media budgets, audience treatments, campaign concepting, matching funds, and more.

Paid Media

Our clients who advertised on Facebook and Instagram saw, on average, a low return on ad spend, which is likely attributable to platform targeting limitations.

Paid search return on ad spend (ROAS) outperformed paid Facebook and Instagram, which was expected,  but we didn’t expect ROAS for paid Facebook and Instagram to fall flat as much as they did. Meta’s changes in the way they allow advertisers to target different audiences are likely to have been the cause of this.

So, what can you do to adapt to the changing platforms ahead of 2022 planning? Here are a few tips for your paid media strategy:

  • Make sure you have a strong paid search program 
  • Have a strong website retargeting paid advertising program in place
  • Step up your organization’s SEO game
  • Alter your Facebook and Instagram advertising goals

Website Giving

Websites performed well for our clients in 2021—on average, they garnered the most revenue (40%) and total gifts (34%) of all channels (DM, Email, Paid Advertising). The average website gift was also higher than the average email gift.

Nonprofit websites are increasingly important to the donor experience. As the focus shifts to web giving, here’s what you can do:

  • Focus not only on driving quality traffic but also make quality content part of the experience
  • Ensure a top-notch supporter journey every step of the way
  • Your website and content should instill confidence in your nonprofit in a meaningful and compelling way
  • Provide an understanding of your mission, the issues + their importance, and how the donor can help contribute towards solutions through philanthropic support

Donor Acquisition

Our clients saw a 115% increase in donor acquisition in 2021. This group contributed to an increase in the number of gifts and revenue for our clients. We also saw an increase in 2021 in new, lower-dollar donations, which shows mid level donors could be a good focus area.

New donors represent potentially long-term relationships for your nonprofit. The biggest question will be, will they donate again? Acquiring a second gift is crucial, and preferably, as soon as possible, as this will impact their lifetime value and increase the chance of additional donations. 

Here’s how you can act now to increase donor acquisition and longevity:

  • Include more non-fundraising-ask engagements 
    • And include passive fundraising through a daisy chain
  • Keep up your sustainer program
  • Get to know your donors—and make sure they get to know you
  • Ensure you provide a number of ways to make philanthropic contributions (planned giving, giving circles, cryptocurrencies, and NFT gift acceptance)

Our Final Tip: Just Show Up

Broad year-end success in 2021 amid a chaotic year instills confidence in the longevity and importance of online fundraising during end of year. Those who showed up and drove a strong campaign were able to bring in critical funds to sustain and grow their mission.

While external factors have been extremely volatile in recent years, remember that it’s never wrong to cultivate, engage, and solicit your list. As we quickly approach year-end, it’s time to start thinking about your strategy—and how to engage your donors this year. 

Already thinking ahead and need help? Learn more about our fundraising services today!