7 Best Practices for Increasing Year-End Fundraising

donations-fundraising-piggy-bank-blog-imageLast week, the philanthropic movement, Giving Tuesday, raised $168 million through 1.56 million online gifts. Nearly 35,000 organizations participated and social media was abuzz with positive messages encouraging all of us to give in what is traditionally a commercial time of year. Did your organization participate?

There are countless ways we can raise funds for our organizations – both national initiatives and homegrown strategies. Fundraising is critical to YMCAs because it simply allows your good work to happen. The challenge YMCAs face is differentiating themselves and standing out amidst thousands of other nonprofit organizations.

The good news is – There’s a strategy for that, and philanthropic giving continues to rise. According to Charity Navigator, total giving reached record levels for the second year in a row, increasing over 10% the past two years. Last year alone, an estimated $373 billion was given to charitable causes.1

So, how can YMCAs secure a piece of the pie? Here are 7 ways you can reboot your fundraising efforts for maximum impact.

  • Focus on individuals. Last year, the majority of charitable giving came from individuals. Specifically, individuals accounted for 71% of all giving and represent a 3.8% increase over the previous year.2 Focus your engagement efforts at the individual level, sharing personal testimonials, success stories and relevant statistics. Be sure and send out an ask for year-end gifts now, reminding donors of the tax advantage of gifts given by midnight on December 31, 2016. 
  • Share results at the program level. Givers have been taught to be skeptical of high level numbers that can be interpreted different ways. When it comes to your reporting, get as specific as you can, programmatically. Having a strong data management system with flexible reporting capabilities, like ACTIVE Net, can make this as easy as the click of a button. It also helps to know the metrics that impress donors.3
  • Accept online donations. It’s the simplest, most convenient way to give and is known to increase donation amounts. It also makes 24/7 giving possible. According to Network for Good, when it came to online giving last year, 30% of donations were made in December, with 20% coming in on the 31st and 12% coming in between 10pm and 12am.4
  • Provide opportunities for long-term giving. Smart donors support their favorite organizations for the long haul. They see themselves as a partner in your efforts to bring about change. They know that only with long-term, committed supporters can an organization be successful. Make a long-term giving strategy easy for them with scheduled, recurring giving options and adequate communications that aren’t always about the ask.
  • Participate in national initiatives. There is power behind organization, and planning your annual fundraising efforts in conjunction with national initiatives is a smart way to go.
      1. Research and actively participate in national action events and anniversaries such as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (September), International Women’s Day (March 8) or  American Heart Month (February).
      2. Plan now to participate in next year’s Giving Tuesday. This year, $168 million was raised in one day. That’s up 44% from last year.5
  • Consider affiliate programs. Certain retailers allow nonprofits to receive a portion (up to 10%!) of all sales made from links to their website when a nonprofit shares those links on their site. Nonprofits can also place the link in the communications. Amazon Smile lets consumers choose a nonprofit that has signed up to receive a percentage of qualified Amazon sales.
  • Plan events with your audience in mind. Is a black tie gala appropriate or is Bingo, Battle of the Bands or a Family Carnival more your speed? Plan events that will have a far-reaching relevance with your membership.

No matter what, setting aside time each year to brainstorm and develop an annual fundraising strategy will pay off in the long run. Fundraising is difficult enough and a last minute scramble only limits your potential. As 2016 comes to a close, intentionally look forward to next year and plan now for all the ways you can engage your donors throughout the whole year.


1Charity Navigator

2Charity Navigator

3Donor Search: 15 Fundraising Metrics to Start Tracking

4Network for Good