You might have seen the headlines: “Fundraising Makes Big Comeback During Pandemic!” 

While philanthropic fundraising saw an encouraging lift the past two years, that growth appears to have been short-lived. During 2022, many nonprofits have experienced diminished returns—especially from donors under $100, the bread and butter of many programs—due in part to rising inflation and other economic concerns. But don’t worry, there are strategies that can help optimize your program and set you up for success during Giving Season and beyond. And if you need additional support, feel free to reach out to the Fundraising & Growth Strategy team at Blue State!

The following tips can help you maximize the value of your current donors and prospects, while tending to your file health and long-term donor retention:

  1. Hone your segmentation: Given the drop in smaller-dollar donations, we need to be even smarter about how we ask for money. Make sure your giving forms are segmented with ask amounts appropriate for your different audience levels. Your midlevel and major donors should receive larger ask strings on their donation forms than your mass levels, informed by prior giving history. And your current sustainers should be served a special giving form asking for an additional one-time gift, given they are likely your organization’s loyal “pinch hitters.” If you tested ask strings earlier in the year, make sure you are implementing the version that performed the best for gross revenue before Giving Tuesday. And at the very least, at a time when inflation might lower your average gift size, you can easily make adjustments to push it up, such as increasing your mass ask string amounts by an additional 9 to 10 percent.
  2. Loyalty still rules:  Despite reports that some nonprofits are retaining only 16% of donors in Q2 2022, donor retention remains crucially important as acquisition costs continue to increase. While the Giving Season isn’t usually the time to promote monthly giving as the primary ask, it is a key offering to drive donor loyalty and repeat giving. Are your general donation forms including a monthly subscription option? If your technology supports smart monthly conversion boxes, make sure you test and roll them out. Branded monthly giving programs with benefits and examples of direct donor impact can also drive increased loyalty and retention. Having these options for donors to discover is vital and lays a good foundation for Q1, such as MSF’s and UNICEF’s monthly program.
  3. Mind the (inbox) gap:  Giving Season is the worst time to have issues with email deliverability. Your email recipients consist of your cause’s closest friends and supporters. Can you reach those individuals? Make sure you aren’t experiencing duplicate challenges that you need to address in your database, or email whitelisting challenges. Now is the time to review your core metrics like deliverability and click-to-open rate and, if needed, nurse your email file back to health. This is like when you have to send out your wedding guest list “save the date” magnets and you hope everything arrives safely! 
  4. Lapsed but not forgotten: While recession concerns and inflation remain factors for attracting new donors, don’t forget about your ex-best friends… your lapsed donors, who are often overlooked! The Fundraising Effectiveness Project has reported a 6% growth in reactivated donors in the first half of 2022. Make sure you include lapsed donors and leads in all of your Giving Season sends for reactivation and conversion purposes with special conditional content. Take a moment to also make sure all eligible audiences are available to target in email and in digital media house files. The cost of reactivation should be lower than the cost of new donor acquisition.
  5. Plan for the big day… the other one: December 31st (rightfully) receives a great deal of attention, but Giving Tuesday remains one of the most profitable days of the year. Ten years after its founding, many nonprofits find Giving Tuesday to be the best day for acquiring new donors. For Giving Tuesday, put an extra emphasis on prospecting for your media buys using lookalike segments of your midlevel and sustainer donors in addition to your mass audience. Also, check with your digital media contact to make sure your tracking pixels are set up to look at view-through revenue, not just last-click revenue, as it pertains to digital advertising investments. Take a moment to also make sure you have the right marketing mix on your social channels. For prospecting purposes leading up to Giving Tuesday, are you including lead generation opportunities on your social platforms, such as giveaways and sweepstakes for email capture, to battle challenges against privacy changes on social networks?

By taking a few moments to review your digital fundraising program’s strategy and tactics before the year’s most crucial fundraising period, you’re well on your road to countering the headwinds and preparing for an optimal year-end!