To many Americans, New Year’s Eve is a holiday at the end of December, celebrated with champagne toasts, fireworks and a giant LED ball dropping from the sky. We also know that many cultures celebrate the New Year on different calendars - in 2016 we had the Chinese New Year in February and will have both Rosh Hashanah and the Hijri New Year in October. One of the least-celebrated New Year holidays is an occasion we at The Gift like to call New Fiscal Year’s Eve. Unlike its counterparts featuring feasts and fireworks, NFYE, celebrated by many organizations on June 30, marks the last day in the fundraising calendar, the final chance to recruit donors and close out gifts. NFYE celebrations feature classic party games such as crafting email campaigns, calling up donors who have not yet made this year’s pledge, and even hand counting gifts to make sure that every pledge has been recorded and every donor thanked. The prize for winning these party games? Reaching and surpassing fundraising goals to make room for new programs, buildings and growth in the upcoming year.
With so much riding on reaching year-end fundraising targets, how can you effectively reach your donors this NFYE? This week my inbox has been flooded with emails from organizations, universities and even political campaigns scrambling for last-minute gifts. While there are thousands of email campaign templates designed to increase open and clickthrough rates, a few simple details can make your NFYE messaging stand out from the rest.
Personalization: This does not just mean including the donor’s name in the message. Personalization also means crafting a unique message so that your donor who has not given is not getting the same appeal as donors who already have. You can take it to the next level
Urgency: Your donors likely aren’t living on the same schedule as the fundraising world, so they don’t have a natural incentive to give by June 30. Your campaign and messaging needs to emphasize the need for immediate gifts, by highlighting a particular program short of its goal or issuing a matching challenge with a deadline.
Engagement: While these appeals need a direct ask for financial support, it doesn’t have to be the only element of the communication. Engage your constituents with some of the best stories from the past year, particular highlights or milestones of your organization, or even invite your community to give their own feedback on the year so that you can start the next year even stronger.
Cheers to the New Year; let’s party like it’s FY99.