8 Things to Do to Prepare for Your Year-end Online Fundraising

Credit Card

Well it’s that time of year again. Are you ready for the year-end fundraising push? Honestly, talking about this at Thanksgiving is late for most organizations. (Many have been planning since before Labor Day.) But it’s not too late to at least do a few more last-minute adjustments to your digital channels. Hopefully the following items help you as you make your list and check it twice.

1.) Messaging: How are you presenting “the ask”?

Sure it’s year-end but you should be doing this effectively 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. It’s only here in December that you need to make sure to stay consistent with that messaging. Why does your organization exist? Make sure to reiterate that to your constituents. Then after you’ve done that you need to answer “why give?” and “why now?”. Why give: will be to further your organization’s mission. Lean into that. The “why now” is the part where you can get creative. Some organizations have matching challenges. Some talk about tax-benefits. The options are open. When I interact with your digital channels is it clear for me to answer “Why give?” and “Why now?”.

2.) Identify your main calls to action

You’ve got your messaging down. Now where will you place your calls to action? And what are the specific calls to action? These really depend on each other.

Placement (email banner ads, homepage slideshows, PS promotions at the end of emails, etc.) indicates certain audience segments. And different audience segments require different calls to action. Take some time to think through this and map it out on a spreadsheet. You may be surprised to see that certain segments of your audience are completely missed.

3.) Track your calls to action

Use systems like Google Analytics campaign tracker to track all your different calls to action. As you map out all your calls to action you can add columns for campaign codes. This allows you to attribute actual tracked revenue in Google Analytics back to your original calls to action. So you know what was effective and what was… not so much. Make sure to use the campaign builder tool. (https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en )

PS: Make sure you have ecommerce tracking setup in Google Analytics too. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009612?hl=en

4.) Go through your donation process

Yes, be the donor. Go through the actual donation process—on production not your staging environment. What things do you notice? What should be tightened up? Is anything broken? What could be eliminated to make the experience more friction free?

When you’ve done that now comes the painful part. Download Google Chrome and use the Developer Tools (option + command + i on a Mac). Choose the device emulator http://d.pr/i/11chW/13vmKt0O. Now go through the process again on an iPad. Then switch to an iPhone. What things do you notice need to be fixed?

5.) Prepare your email lists

Clean up those dusty old email lists. Go through and remove everyone who hasn’t opened an email in the last 6 months. Those people are costing you money and wasting your time. You want the warm leads. Purging your email lists is a good thing to do at least once a year. And if you get rid of those folks before the year-end push then you are less likely to get flagged as a spammer by your cold contacts (because in December you’ll be sending out probably more than the average number of emails).

Then look through your emails and prepare your segments. You’ll want to communicate differently to different segments. (See #2)

6.) Think Offline

Every place you make the online call to action should also provide an offline call to action as well. Maybe someone is very comfortable receiving an email but not giving online. So make sure you have your handy 800 number there where they can call in 24 hours a day to give a donation over the phone. And also provide your postal address and who to make out checks to. It’s a simple thing to include this information but it helps you cover more alternatives, especially for older people who may not be fully comfortable giving online.

7.) What are you doing for social media?

Social media is a tricky beast. It’s even trickier with online fundraising. Social is more about relationship building. So what ways can you use it in December to build and reinforce relationships that have been fostered all year long? What kinds of sharable resources are you creating for your campaign? Infographics? Share-images? Are your landing pages social media optimized? You will need to get creative here.

8.) Keep a log

You will be learning a ton of good things as you go through this year-end campaign. So keep a log of the things you learn. What worked well this year? What bombed?

You also should be checking out other organizations to see what they are doing during the year-end. Take notes. Take screenshots and screencasts of great ideas and keep them in your notebook.

Then set a calendar reminder to review this next August as you start to plan for year-end 2016!

I certainly didn’t cover everything one could do for year-end fundraising planning. What’s one thing you do that I missed on my list