Year-end giving, especially in the thick of the holiday season and Giving Tuesday, always seems like a crunch. Creatively, you’re trying to make sure that your organization stands apart from the rest. Logistically, you’re scrambling to get all of the pieces out the door and ensure that marketing and fundraising systems are working properly.
If you’ve ever felt overloaded with responsibilities when it comes to an end-of-year giving campaign, there’s a better way of spreading out the work. And it starts over the summer.
Despite being months away, there are website housekeeping tasks that can be done in the summer so that you can spend more time and energy on strategy and execution later. No one likes summer homework, but there are major benefits to thinking about year-end giving months ahead:
- You can identify website tools or integrations that are broken or need improvements before you want to use them.
- You’ll have a better understanding of what’s technically possible to pull off before making plans for a campaign, especially if you’re low on staff capacity or budget.
- You still have time to go back and look at last year’s results to identify what went well and where there are areas for improvement.
So put on those shorts and flip-flops and turn up the holiday jams. Let’s explore what you should be doing this summer to hit the ground running when it’s time to create a year-end fundraising plan and put it into action.
Website Prep for Year-End Giving
Test your online donation experience
When’s the last time you completed a test donation on your website using a desktop computer? How about a phone or tablet? In addition to making sure that everything is technically working, it’s a chance to view the process from the perspective of your donor audience persona. To run a quick audit, keep these key components in mind:
- Is it easy to find the Donate page from your main navigation or donate button?
- Does the donation form work in terms of collecting payment?
- Does the form feel excessively long with unnecessary fields?
- Is the mobile giving experience on par with giving via a desktop device?
- Is your donation form accessible to those with vision and other impairments?
- Is your form properly integrated with a donor management tool or email marketing system?
Optimize Your Donor Flow
An effective online donation process is essential to your nonprofit’s fundraising success, no matter the time of year. Use our free Donor Flow Optimizer to identify your problem areas.
Consider adding a recurring donation option
Does your organization have a monthly giving program or have plans on the horizon to start one? Not every online donation system is set up to collect and manage recurring gifts, which can mean a lot of headaches for your team.
Before you head full-steam into creating a recurring gifts program in time for year-end giving, take some time to learn what your existing system is capable of doing and if you’ll need to upgrade or change your tech. From there, you can start to brainstorm the different ways you might want to promote a new monthly giving option on your website and beyond.
Audit your “Thanks for Donating” messages
A good fundraising campaign doesn’t stop once someone donates—what does your typical donor follow-up look like? For example, donors might immediately receive an automated email with a message of thanks and details for their records. They could also be redirected to a “Thanks for Donating” page on your website where you offer additional warm fuzzies and gratitude for the gift.
If you don’t have either of those processes in place right now, it would be a good goal to get them up and running before a year-end fundraising appeal. For those that do have them in place, revisit the content and determine if there’s an opportunity to update them to be more compelling or more on-message for the season.
Plan for a campaign-specific landing page
It’s not uncommon for a campaign landing page to be one of the last marketing pieces that comes together. Sometimes there’s a communication breakdown between fundraisers and communications staff. Other times it’s last on the list of things to do because it’s a digital project and not subject to the timelines of graphic designers and print shops.
If someone came to you today and asked to create a new page on your website for a fundraising campaign, do you have an idea of what to do next? What if that page needs a custom donation form that’s been tested ahead of time? And maybe a vanity URL while you’re at it?
Take the guesswork out of making landing pages on your website by getting up to speed on the steps and time you’ll need to take to build one. That could mean creating a test project for yourself, talking to your nonprofit’s website partner about what’s possible, or reading some documentation about the website builder you use for your site.
We also have some handy tips for promoting your landing page once it’s ready, including where to add it to your website navigation.
Update your website’s impact information
Has it been a while since you updated the stats, stories and other content on your website’s Impact page? What about the financials and reports you share on the site?
Even if you don’t have a page dedicated to impact-related information, especially if you’re a newer organization, there are ways to use data to show impact across your site as well as tell or share stories that encourage supporters to give.
And if you don’t yet have any of these credibility-building pieces of content, you still have time to start collecting them before the year-end giving season.
Ensure you can measure your online efforts
No judgment if you haven’t been regularly checking in on your website’s analytics tool. We understand that Google Analytics and similar platforms can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so helpful you’re planning ahead this year!
Thinking back to a past campaign, what sort of questions would you like to have been able to answer about the marketing and fundraising efforts? Here are a few for inspiration:
- How many people visited our website during the campaign?
- How many of these visitors actually donated?
- What type of device do most people use to visit our website and donate?
- Which channel sources bring in the most donors/donors giving the most?
- How does the number/amount of donations compare to the previous year?
Start putting a list together and use it to identify gaps in your understanding of your analytics account. (We often recommend the free Google Analytics Academy courses.) You might also discover that your analytics tracking needs a refresh so that you accurately track donations and other conversions.
Once you’re feeling good about the current state of website tracking, take a crack at setting up a dashboard that pulls in your most common campaign metrics. See if you can get it to a point where it answers your list of questions. We have some pre-made Google Analytics dashboards if you need a starting point.
Year-End Giving for All Seasons
While these tips are focused on year-end donations, you could circle back to this list 2-3 times a year to make sure your site is always primed with fundraising power. With any luck (and some well-planned preparations), giving to your cause is never out of season.
What other website tasks are you tackling this summer in preparation for holiday campaigns? Are you also evaluating other year-end giving tools like your email marketing service and social media channels? See you in the comments!