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6 Simple Ways to Engage Donors This Holiday Season

Posted by Ian Lauth

6 Quick Tips for Donor Holiday Outreach

Many Nonprofits hold their fundraising events during these fall months before the holiday season hits. After the events are over and the holidays begin, donors may still be willing to give – so it's important not to end your fundraising efforts prematurely. 

Studies show that online donations often increase during the holiday season. In a 2012 survey by Charity Navigator, 90% of donors polled said they donated during the year-end giving season. Online gifts rose 16% during the same period in 2013 according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. This increase might have to do with the popularity of online campaigns like #GivingTuesday, which happen around the holiday season, but more importantly has to do with the spirit of giving during the holidays.

Even if your event is over and done, it's important to continue fundraising efforts during the holiday season. Here are some simple ways your organization can reach donors and increase funds during the season of giving. 

1. Focus on the spirit of giving and gratitude 

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. Christmas and Hanukkah are holidays in which giving to others is emphasized. With that in mind, it's no wonder that so many people like to donate during November and December. Share stories about your mission and inform donors about the people your organization is actively helping. Remember to show gratitude to donors, and do so in the spirit of the season. Use this time to make phone calls, send emails and mail cards to emphasize how much you value each of your donors and their support.

2. Ask for gifts in-kind

Donors who are passionate about your mission, but don't have the financial ability to give as much as they'd like, might prefer to donate items instead. Also referred to as in-kind donations, this is a form of charitable giving where goods and services, rather than cash, is donated. This type of donation can also apply to donors who simply have too many "things" they want to get rid of, such as:

  • If a donors wins an iPhone 6 at a year-end party but already has a smartphone, he or she can donate it as an auction item for your next event.
  • If the company where one of your donors works gets a new printer, they can donate the old one for your organization to use.
  • Start a program to encourage donors to pass along their unwanted or extra gifts to supporters your fundraising efforts.

3. Offer donations as a gift

Animal Shelter Mug

Send a small branded gift package to supporters who donate on behalf of someone else so they can give it as part of their gift to them.

You can also encourage your supporters to make a donation on someone's behalf and give that as a gift. This is great for donors who can't figure out what to get the person who "has everything" but still want to give something meaningful. Add a special checkbox to your existing online donation form that says "give donation as a gift" or create an entirely separate "donation gift" form for donors to fill out, then promote it in your year-end communication. Develop a small gift package with your organization logo and mission - it could be as simple as a thank you card - to send these donors so they can use it to physically give the donation as a gift. Lot's of times organizations will give you the option to have the "thank you" or gift acknowledgement notice sent directly to the person getting the gift. These gift packages can get more intricate as the amount of the donation increases. For example, anyone who donates $100 to ABC animal shelter would get a stuffed animal in a branded coffee mug to give as a gift.

4. Emphasize tax benefits

December is the last month of the year and if they haven't already done so, donors can give to your Nonprofit and receive tax benefits that will pay off come April. Remind your supporters of the tax benefits that come with giving in your year-end communication and on your donation page. Most donors don't give solely to enjoy a deductible expense, but it is an advantage and one worth mentioning as supporters consider contributing to your organization. 

Improve Your Online Presence to Boost Donations

READ: Improve Your Online Presence to Boost Donations

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5. Re-examine your donation process 

An easy donation process will prevent users from exiting out of your website due to frustration or impatience. Are there long forms that donors have to fill out before contributing? Shorten up any questionnaires and forms and ask only for what is absolutely necessary. You will also want to ensure that the donation button is easy to find on each page of your website. A big and bright button will catch the eye of users as they browse your page. 

6. Start looking to next year 

Donors who have already contributed to your organization this year might not donate again during the holiday season. They might, however, donate again once the new year starts. During December, start gearing up for January by thanking donors for their previous contributions. Tell contributors how their money made an impact on your organization this year and share some of your goals for the coming year.  

Read Next: "4 Quick Tips to Raise Money on #GivingTuesday"

The holidays will be here before you know it. Is your Nonprofit ready? Start thinking ahead of ways your organization can reach donors during the season of giving, and incorporate the ideas above into your holiday strategy. Do you have any ideas for boosting donor engagement over the holidays? Please share in the comments below!

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Donor Relations, Year End Giving
Ian Lauth
Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing development and content design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

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