Year-End Fundraising Success Stories to Inspire You
Year-end fundraising can be challenging and stressful. In 2021, Media Cause worked with 11 clients in partnership on their End of Year Efforts. For some clients, we only contributed to a particular channel or two, while for others, we orchestrated their entire effort across channels.
In this blog post, we’ll compare performance, creative approach, strategies, tactics, and process. We’ll also discuss why this time of year is so critical for fundraising efforts.
2022 year-end is quickly approaching, so it’s prime time to ensure your nonprofit has a plan in place to maximize returns!
Why do people give so much money to charity during End-of-Year (November – December)?
- Financial Reasons (Tax-year-end) – The IRS allows donors to deduct a portion of their charitable contributions from their overall taxable income. Instead of the government redistributing wealth, charitable giving provides donors with autonomy to choose where to allocate their otherwise would-be-tax dollars.
- Cultural Reasons (Thanksgiving) – Being thankful for what we have and recognizing that we might have more to be thankful for than others.
- Faith-Based Reasons – Several world religions have major holidays during this period, many of which focus on community and acts of charity.
- Familial Reasons – Charity starts at home. Charitable acts and philanthropic giving are often passed down generations and are part of regular traditions.
- Seasonal Reasons – Shorter days, colder weather, and the year coming to a close present a seasonal cue for less activity, a time for reflection, and positive changes we want to see in our futures. It also presents seasonal needs for some charities.
- Psychological Reasons – It feels good. Being generous, helpful, needed, thanked, virtuous, or otherwise selfless fulfills us and satisfies our ‘inner-witness.’
Crucial Dates to Follow
There are two crucial giving periods in the year-end period: Giving Tuesday and December 27-31. The calendar does much of the heavy lifting for you, and wallets are broadly open. It’s important to push volume at these critical moments to ensure your messages cut through the competition and remain at the top of the inbox. Clients commonly express concerns that these periods are too competitive, but this rising tide lifts all boats.
Giving Tuesday: Giving grew 9% year-over-year in 2021, which is especially notable given an ill-timed stock market tumble. Giving Tuesday 2020 saw incredible success, and the industry nevertheless built on these gains, showing the enduring importance of this day.
December 27-31: The final five days of the year are critical for year-end tax-deductibility messaging and are frequently the busiest fundraising days of the year when people begin to make gifts in earnest ahead of the tax deadline.
The Importance of Promoting Matching During Year End
These are important times to promote a matching gift to ensure you get everything you can out of these moments.
Matches are a dime a dozen when it comes to year-end fundraising. Almost every Giving Tuesday or December promotion that lands in your inbox features one. Rather than make matches outdated, their popularity makes them essential for mounting the strongest fundraising effort possible.
A match provides a time-limited opportunity for your donors to make more impact with their donations and gives an excuse to push the volume and lean on transactional tactics that are consistently among the calendar’s top performers.
Your nonprofit’s donors do not belong to you alone; you’re likely in competition with many like-minded organizations. It’s important to secure match funds for these critical moments.
2021 Year End Success Stories
We’ll show you a few examples of clients who saw great success during year-end 2021 and explain the tactics they used. First, let’s look at a high-level overview for year-end. The clients we worked with saw:
- S1.4M in total online revenue
- A 25% year-over-year increase in revenue
- 2.97M appeal emails delivered
- $4.06 average paid search, $.71 average paid social return on ad spend (ROAS)
- 4,248 total online gifts
- Average email revenue per 1,000 emails delivered of $99
You can dive deeper into these numbers and results in our blog post with 2021 takeaways + tips for 2022.
And now, a deeper look at what worked:
Since 1952, Hope Services has delivered a range of services to thousands of people with developmental disabilities. They currently help approximately 3,500 participants and their families, from infants to seniors, who reside in the eight counties in California.
During the end-of-year appeal in 2020, Hope Services leveraged a sizable budget in Direct Response Television (DRTV), but unfortunately to little known effect. In 2021, we worked with Hope Services to be more efficient with limited resources to drive net revenue gains.
In order to rise to this challenge, Media Cause focused on leveraging these elements to improve on 2020 wins and increase conversions through:
- Personalized storytelling
- Compelling and varied multimedia content
- Tangible giving levels relating to service costs
- Increased sense of urgency
- Leveraging a generous matching gift offer
One unique storytelling approach they used was giving handles. By assigning tangible equivalents to what a gift can provide, we were able to help articulate the impact that a donor could have, for example:
- $250 provides a tablet and headset for a client so they can participate in Hope’s distance learning program, From Hope to Home.
- $500 provides staff with a five-month supply of sanitation kits to keep client transportation vehicles safe and clean.
The Outcome: Between November 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, Hope Services increased gross fundraising revenue by 105% and increased net fundraising revenue by 76%, providing increased funds to help to improve the lives of those with developmental disabilities. Read the full case study here.
Church Health makes quality health care accessible to Memphians who may otherwise go without. Media Cause and Church Health collaborated on a strategy designed to lean into the local nature of Church Health’s work with a unique offer: Memphians helping Memphians.
This was a multi-channel effort including email, Church Health’s website, organic social, and paid media with the intention of competing with larger nonprofits across channels.
Their multi-channel appeal encompassed the following:
- In between these key date ranges (Giving Tuesday and the end of December), Church Health cultivated audiences with non-fundraising-ask stories of healing and impact.
- Matching gift offers front-and-center with a year-end giving lightbox that ran from mid-November through December 31.
- Church Health leveraged organic posts to echo email asks and ensure audiences had Church Health top of mind. In the end, organic social media drove 10% of total revenue for the year-end effort.
- Church Health also dedicated $30,000 in budget for paid media to serve fundraising ads on Facebook and Google Search, leveraging match specific and/or deadline focused messaging whenever appropriate.
- In the run-up to crucial fundraising moments, Church Health engaged its supporters through dynamic impact storytelling.
The Outcome: Between November 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, Church Health increased fundraising revenue by 50%, increased the number of gifts by 44%, and increased average gift by 4%, helping to make healthcare accessible to more Memphians who need it most. Read the full case study here.
Waterkeeper Alliance ensures that the world’s Waterkeeper groups are as connected to each other as they are to their local waters, organizing the fight for clean water into a coordinated global movement.
In the run-up to the Clean Water Act’s 50th Anniversary in 2022, Waterkeeper Alliance prioritized its campaign to restore this statute’s original scope and effectiveness after decades of regulatory changes and failure in leadership defanged this visionary legislation. To run this campaign effectively, funds needed to be sourced. Media Cause came in to help Waterkeeper Alliance develop a plan to achieve success and surpass funds raised in previous years.
As we do for any client, our focus for Waterkeeper Alliance was on the factors we could control: messaging, volume, tactics, and channels.
- Gift Matching – The success of year-end fundraising often relies on the offer, and we worked with Waterkeeper Alliance to parcel out their $100,000 matching gift total across three occasions, with an emphasis placed on Giving Tuesday and the final five days of the year. With an anticipated surplus of funds, we were also able to launch a 48-hour flash match in the middle of the month, which we did not have on the calendar the previous year.
- Programmatic Urgency – Our focus this year-end was Waterkeeper Alliance’s work to restore the Clean Water Act, shining a spotlight on the statute’s deficiencies as it is currently interpreted and outlining an action plan to restore it by its 50th anniversary in 2022.
- Strategic Volume – The Waterkeeper Alliance increased sends on Giving Tuesday and the final day of the year from two to three messages and included a mid-month “flash match” to keep the momentum going during key moments.
- Paid Media – A modest $1,515 paid media budget ($245 in search and $1,300 in Facebook) yielded 86,000 impressions, helping to keep Waterkeeper Alliance top of mind at a critical moment in the calendar.
The Outcome: Between November 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, Waterkeeper Alliance increased fundraising revenue by 36%, increased the number of gifts by 33%, and increased the average gift by 2%, helping to spread awareness of the Clean Water Act and continuing the fight for clean water. Read the full case study here.
We hope you find these insights helpful as you begin planning for your year-end fundraising appeal. Contact us for any questions that pop up along the way, as the team at Media Cause is here to help guide your plans and move your mission forward.