Can you believe it’s almost “the most wonderful time of the year”? The final three months of the year are usually the busiest for nonprofits, and 2020 should be no exception. While most professionals are gearing up for their upcoming holiday vacations, nonprofit professionals are using this time to prepare their annual appeals. The time is now to start preparing the end of the year giving season. Is your nonprofit end of year giving campaign COVID ready?
Here are five things to consider when crafting your nonprofit’s messaging this season.
Share how COVID has impacted your mission
According to Fidelity, most donors plan to maintain — or even increase — the amount they donate to charity this year. Donors know that giving is especially important now — and for some organizations, maybe more important than ever. Plan your key messaging points around your nonprofit’s financial situation. Did COVID affect your volunteer efforts, leading to increased financial need? Did your organization see an increased community need? Perhaps your funders changed their funding priorities for the year. Take this and build your campaign language around it.
Scooter Media suggests developing three key sub-messages under your primary ask. Scooter Media client The Carnegie provides a great case study for this pivoting approach. As an arts organization, their programming has been hit hard by the effect of COVID-19. As part of their #GivingTuesdayNow campaign earlier this year, The Carnegie leaned into their challenges and launched “The Arts Bring Us Together, Even When We Can’t Be Together” messaging. Their sub-messages included themes surrounding 1) Why the arts are important, and why now moreso than ever.;2) How the arts are inspiring our youth; 3) What The Carnegie is doing for the community during the pandemic.
Turn your board of directors into storytellers
Asking for money during a crisis can be challenging, but relying on your board can help. As some of your organization’s most significant assets, help the members of your board recognize that the time is now. Philanthropy.com suggests organizing a board meeting where trustees practice their storytelling skills by sharing stories of the remarkable work being accomplished despite this incomprehensible crisis.
Market all of your giving options
Including details about how a donor can give should be included in all campaign communications, but is often overlooked. At Scooter Media, we suggest allocating more messaging space to explaining the ways that a gift can be made. Most importantly, Scooter suggests dedicating even more room in your appeal to talking about donor-advised funds (DAFs).
A DAF is a little like a personal charitable savings account. A donor creates an account and makes a contribution of cash, stock, or other assets like real estate or artwork and can take an immediate tax deduction for the gift. The accounts are controlled by a community foundation, that invests the assets and manages the donor’s account. According to Philanthropy.com, while traditional charitable giving forms generally drop during economic downturns, grants from DAFs remain relatively stable in recession conditions.
Remember to incorporate donor-centric messaging
Donor-centric fundraising builds a bridge between the donor and the organization. Over time, this develops a stronger bond to the mission. Donor-centric fundraising has long-lasting effects even after the initial contact is made. Research finds that 67% of donors are more likely to give again, 52% would contribute a larger gift, and 67% would continue to give indefinitely.
There are many ways to incorporate donor-centric messaging and tactics into your campaign strategy. Here are a few examples:
- Share your top supporters’ voices in a “Why I Give” campaign. Share what draws your donors to a particular program. Have they been personally impacted by your mission? Find out what their driving force is for donating and share that in your messaging. Not only does this add credibility to your campaign, but it shines a spotlight on your donors.
- Acknowledge your donors in your stories. Your donors want to feel responsible for being part of the solution. It’s not only about what your organization did, but how your supporters helped you do it.
- Test your final messaging with the Ahern Audit. Anything you send to a donor should contain at least twice as many “you” words as “we” or “I” words and should be between a 6th and 8th-grade reading level. Test your messaging using the Ahern Audit Tool for Centricity and Readability.
Assure supporters with clear messaging & COVID-related updates
A recent report by IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute shows that most households have not adjusted their giving, which can be viewed as a positive sign for philanthropy. However, nonprofits and fundraisers should keep in mind the importance of explicitly communicating the actions they are taking in response to COVID-19 and why their cause still requires support. Transparency is key and taking the time to report back to donors will be vital to the long term success of your campaign. Once your campaign is finished, Scooter Media suggests reporting back to each donor with specific details on how the funds were used.
Individuals, businesses, and nonprofits alike are facing undue hardship throughout the pandemic. However, maintaining a clear communication strategy will go a long way toward ensuring donors stay engaged with your organization whenever they are in a position to give, whether it is now or in the future.
For more public relations tips for nonprofits, don’t miss our ideas for elevating your non-profit’s fundraising in 2019, Incorporating LinkedIn into your nonprofit social strategy, How to make your annual report stand out, or our guide to getting the most out of your non-profit’s Facebook page.