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The Big Three: Meet Your Year-End Giving Goals

Posted by on September 7th, 2016
Posted in Blog   

year end giving tips

The year is coming to a close. Right on schedule, you begin sending final year-end giving solicitations to your donor base. The money starts pouring in. Your donors tell you they feel more connected to your cause than ever. You’re thrilled. Your board is thrilled. Congratulations.

Sounds perfect, right?

We all know it’s not that simple. You’re not the only one reaching out to your donors with year-end giving appeals. And with an onslaught of emails and phone calls from organizations, your donors may be feeling fatigued by being solicited constantly. How do you make sure your communications hit the mark and don’t fall flat?

Before you hit Send or start dialing, here are our top 3 pointers for your year-end giving appeals:

Make Introductions, Not Assumptions

Even donors who have supported you in the past need to be reminded of what you do and why it matters. Don’t believe us? Ask yourself if you have any board members who are a little confused about your mission. Now remind yourself that your confused board members know you much better than someone you’ve never met who has made a donation to you in the past.

Though we like to think our donors are our champions, they probably haven’t spent the entire year living and breathing your mission. Take the time to re-introduce your organization, emphasizing why what you do really matters. A great way to do this is by using your Belief Message.

Talk Benefits, Not Features

Features are the programmatic details and operational specifics that describe how you accomplish your goals. Benefits are the results and impact of your work. People do not donate to support features and programs. They donate to solve problems. So highlight the problems your organization exists to solve, and let the donor see how her donation will actually help solve it. A great way to do this is by using your Problem Message.

Share Stories, Not Stats

Statistics, or even info-graphics might not connect with donors in the way you hope they will. Consider this,

60% of all apartments in the city were built before 1975.

What does that mean? Is 60% a lot? A little? Is it better or worse than it used to be? How has your organization impacted this percentage? And most importantly, why should your donor care? Instead, share a true and compelling anecdote that demonstrates your impact. For example,

When fire ravaged the Anderson’s home they nearly didn’t get out alive. Their house was built before 1975 when smoke detectors were made standard. Today, 6 of 10 buildings house families at risk of not being alerted of a fire.

This example uses visual language and details to paint a picture in the listener’s mind. This will help your donor feel connected to the patron, community, or cause your organization supports. Get started using our guide to creating your Impact Messages.

Consider these case studies:

First, consider this message about the fictional organization, RRAK. It’s heavy with statistics and program names and assumptions about who they are and what problems they address.

year-end giving example

And now consider this introduction to Mission Minded client, Children’s Council of San Francisco.

year-end giving children's council

In this message, Children’s Council utilizes their Belief Message. They don’t assume you already know who they are or what they stand for. They tell you. They explain that they believe “all families deserve access to quality child care,” so we immediately understand that all families must not have access to quality child care. They skip the statistics, and they emphasize the benefits—not the features—of their work. Even without knowing about any of their programs, we know that Children’s Council’s work makes our city stronger by ensuring children are well cared for, parents can work, and families can succeed. And that’s something most people can agree is important.

You rely on year-end giving to reach your fundraising goals and help you achieve your mission. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with your donors in a meaningful way and secure their support.

If you’re interested in more communications tips, check out these 10 Nonprofit Communication Mistakes.


Stephanie is a Mission Minded Brand Strategist and a huge Harry Potter nerd.

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