For everyone, the holidays can feel like a stressful, busy time of year.
For nonprofit professionals, the stress of balancing social and family obligations is compounded by these months being the most important time of year for fundraising.
Nearly 30% of all giving for the year happens in December.
The average amount people give is nearly 40% higher in December than throughout the rest of the year.
Clearly people are in a giving mindset during the holidays.
Nonprofits should do everything in their power to encourage that generosity and provide people with easy, persuasive reasons to follow their hearts this time of year.#NonProfits, take note! People give 40% more in December than the rest of the year. Click To Tweet
Here are eight techniques you can use this holiday season to maximize the donations that come your way before the onset of the New Year.
1. Offer gift options.
One of the most valuable techniques you should implement this year is tying the general gift-giving people are doing for friends and family in with giving to your organization. If your donors feel they can check both boxes at once, they’ll be more likely to send money your way.
There are a couple different forms this can take.
Create an online gift catalog.
Charity gift catalogs make giving to a charity feel more like shopping – in a good way. Instead of providing a lump sum of cash, a gift catalog lets them visualize a list of specific items that they can choose to give. Giving a couple hundred dollars to charity feels different than buying a goat for a struggling family.
Some charities, like Oxfam, take it a step further and make a card part of the gift. You can buy chickens for a family in need in the name of a loved one, and present your loved one with the card as your holiday gift to let them know.
Offer physical gifts at different donation levels.
Sometimes having something physical to wrap up and hand to a loved one feels important. To tap into that desire, you can offer different items to people who donate at different levels. A t-shirt or tote bag for anyone that donates enough allows a donor to let a loved one know they’ve supported a cause they care about while also providing them with an item they can hand them come gift-giving time.
2. Promote your Amazon Smile account.
One thing you can count on people to do this season is buy things. And a lot of them are specifically buying things online. Last year on Black Friday, more people shopped online than in stores.
Your organization can benefit from some of that spending with an Amazon Smile account. Whenever customers use the URL smile.amazon.com rather than going straight to amazon.com, .5% of what they spend will go to your organization. That percentage isn’t huge, but if enough people make you their chosen Amazon Smile charity and then do a lot of their holiday shopping on Amazon, the donations will add up.
If you haven’t yet set up an Amazon Smile account for your nonprofit, then that’s your first step. Just follow the instructions Amazon provides here.
Once that’s done though, you should actively encourage your followers to select your charity and make a point of doing their Amazon shopping through the smile link. Provide step-by-step instructions on how to set their Amazon smile account to donate to your charity, like World of Children does.
Then promote your account to your followers. Before Black Friday rolls around, send an email to your list about your Amazon Smile account and post about it on your social media profiles. The more people start shopping in your name, the more those donations will add up to something significant.
3. Ask a big donor to match all gifts through the beginning of the year.
When donors hear that their donation will be worth more because of a matching gift, that ups their incentive to give. If you have a reliable big donor you can convince to match all the donations made within a specific time frame, your promotions to the rest of your list will have some extra kick.
The Central Texas Food Bank found a generous donor to match all gifts this holiday season and put that information front and center on their website to encourage more giving.
How much more likely are you to give $10 to an organization when you know that will translate into 80 meals due to someone else’s matching contribution? The psychology behind matching donations is powerful; if you can find a big donor to help, use it.
4. Share touching success stories.
This is helpful anytime of year, but when people are already in giving mode, it can especially make a difference. People like to see how their contribution will pay off in specific terms. If you can show them the little girl that was able to wake up to several gifts under the tree because of their help last year, that turns their donations into something more personal and moving.
Last year in December, Austin Pets Alive shared a video of Poppy, a dog that came to them suffering from parvo the year before. After being treated in their care, Poppy made a full recovery and was adopted. When potential donors came to the site that holiday season, they knew they weren’t just giving money to an organization, they were helping specific dogs like Poppy go from sickly to running, playing, and stealing slippers in a home they know they’ll be living in for keeps.
5. Take advantage of Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is one of the biggest giving days of the year. Falling right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people are still in spending mode, it’s a day that encourages people to top off their spending spree with some charitable goodness.
For people already in the spirit, making a few tweaks to your website for Giving Tuesday can help ensure you get a piece of the action on the big day.
6. Create a branded donation page.
It may not seem like the kind of thing that would make a big difference, but having a donation page that’s designed to match the look and feel for the rest of your brand can actually cause a significant increase in how much people give. Network for Good has found that branded giving pages earn 7 times more money than their generic-looking counterparts.
The Jane Goodall Institute includes the organizations’ logo and a large picture of Goodall herself at the top of their donation page. It’s only when you scroll down that you see the donation form to fill out.
Before they reach the point of providing credit card information, donors get a reminder of just what the organization does and why it matters. As such, anyone who clicks through to this page won’t doubt for a second that their money will be going where they intend it to. And when the donation page forwards the message the rest of the website provides, they’re less likely to change their mind or doubt their decision.
7. Position donating as an easy New Year’s Resolution to keep.
A lot of the donations that come around the holidays have to do with people being in the gift-giving spirit, but a good chunk of them come at the very end of the year – right as people are starting to think about their New Year’s Resolutions. Every year, thousands if not millions of people try to think of ways to become better versions of themselves. Every year, a good portion of those good intentions fall short of their goal.
This presents an opportunity. Keeping a resolution like losing weight or quitting smoking is hard. Keeping a New Year’s resolution to give more to charity can be easy. If they simply take five minutes to set up a recurring donation now, your donors can know they’ve achieved their resolution for the year before it even starts.Suggest recurring donations to your #nonprofit as a #NewYearsResolution that's easy to keep. Click To Tweet
Use the New Year and the good intentions people always have as it starts to push out a marketing campaign that positions giving to your organization as the best kind of New Year’s resolution: one that helps others (and that they’ll actually be able to keep).
8. Make it easy for donors to share the word.
Word of mouth is always one of the most powerful ways for an organization to gain more awareness and interest. The donors that know you already care about the work you do, which means they’ll probably be happy to help spread the message.
You’ve probably seen “I just donated” Tweets or messages on your social media platforms before. Often, people don’t have to write those themselves, they’re automatically generated with a simple click.
People are more likely to share a message if you make it super easy for them to do so. Whenever someone gets to the confirmation page, set up buttons with Share Link Generator that prefill messages for different social media sites. Make it easy for donors to brag about their generosity. Be sure to include a CTA in the message you write that urges their followers to give as well.
Social proof is powerful. Having your followers do part of the work for you can help bring new donors to your cause.
People are predisposed to think about all that they have (and can expect to receive) during the holiday season, which tends to bring out their generosity. For nonprofits, that makes these months the ones where you (and your website) need to work the hardest. But the good news is that the rewards you reap from your efforts are likely to pay off in more donations than you’ll get for much of the rest of the year combined. Good luck and happy holidays!
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.