What a week for nonprofits! GivingTuesday 2023 is in the books, and we’re getting our first look at how this traditional kickoff to the busiest giving season went.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it was a so-so event for many nonprofits. While charitable organizations raised billions of dollars—$3.1 billion, to be exact—that’s exactly what they raised last year. That’s not a small sum, but it’s not the leap many in the industry hoped to see. When you consider the fact that the number of donors declined by 10%, nonprofits could start to worry about what that portends for the rest of the year-end season.
According to CharityEngine Phil Schmitz, it’s not time to panic. “Nonprofits that rely on a robust fundraising platform are in good shape to weather any storm. When you can focus on the donor experience—from personalized communications to frictionless giving to fraud protection—you’re poised to run successful campaigns, even if the overall season seems sluggish.”
In fact, CharityEngine clients increased their year-over-year GivingTuesday donations by 52%!
However, the overall numbers indicate this wasn’t what every nonprofit experienced.
Why wasn’t the start of the season more robust, and should nonprofits make any changes to ensure a strong finish?
Why Giving Remained Steady
As noted, $3.1 billion isn’t pocket change. People are still enthusiastically supporting the causes closest to their hearts. But what are some factors that inhibited a giving surge?
- Inflation is at a 40-year high, meaning that the cost of goods can squeeze the disposable income needed for charitable donations.
- World events can disrupt the world economy, which creates unrest and can spark fears of recession and a desire to save more and spend less.
- The stock market has been volatile, leading to cautious investing and spending.
- Need has continued to grow, flooding prospective donors with choices and creating competition for those dollars.
Increased competition for fewer dollars doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom for your nonprofit. Think about what your nonprofit has weathered in recent years. Through a pandemic, economic uncertainty, political fireworks, and other world events, you’ve prevailed and continue to serve your chosen mission.
Regardless of what the next month brings, you can still find great success.
5 Tips for a Strong Year-End
Elated or despondent about this year’s GivingTuesday, it’s not too late to double down on some variables that can take you from so-so to holy cow, or from holy cow to clicking your heels. Here are five things we promise will work:
- Review your outreach. Is it aligned with how each segment of your audience engages with you? A simple but powerful example is that the Silent Generation tends to respond to direct mail appeals, while younger generations will quickly engage with a text. Be sure your outreach is in lockstep with your audience segments.
- Check your tech. To that point, can your technology help you segment your audiences? We’d argue that personalization has a heavy hand in fundraising success, so ensure it’s easy to personalize outreach. You’ll want to feel confident that your technology is going to help you be successful.
- Get out of a rut. If you’re an “email/text/email/text” nonprofit, get out of that rut and send a direct mail piece. Try an attention-grabbing social media campaign. If everything you’re currently doing works well, you can still add another channel and measure its success against others. Each channel will reach a different audience.
- Tell a story. No matter what your mission tries to change, there’s a heartwarming story in there. There’s a reason you’ve chosen to work for this change. Share an impact story or interview a board member. Emotional appeals are expected and effective during the holiday season.
- Say thank you. And be creative! Throughout this season, thank donors with an automated (yet heartfelt) email and spotlight donors on your website or social media. Tell the story of a volunteer who shows up consistently. Look around you and find people to thank and ways to thank them. Generosity of spirit is contagious.
Your Year-End is Also a Beginning!
When the dust settles from this year-end push, you will launch into a season of planning and setting goals. Take the lessons from the next 30 days and note what works, what falls flat, and what was the easiest for your team to execute.
You are also setting the stage for next year-end season. So while it’s easy to race through the end of the year frantically, it’s important that you keep your eyes fixed on the analytics and how close you came to reaching your goals.
And we’d urge you to set goals beyond just fundraising. With the right fundraising platform, you can easily see if you gained donors or volunteers. How did your emails do? Measure your click-through rate!
Analyze your data. How did people give? Were virtual wallets a hit, or did your donors prefer to call in a credit card number? How was your email deliverability? What was the conversion rate on your donation form? This is critical data that will set you up for success in 2024.
Whatever GivingTuesday was, and whatever December is, the turn of the calendar means you get a year to plan. Once you have the right fundraising platform in place, the rest of it is almost a walk in the park.
If you’re intrigued by our clients’ success and want to learn more about CharityEngine, we’d love to show you what we’ve got.