Three must-haves for your best holiday campaign ever
The last three months of the year mean more to most charities than any other time of the year. Even if your organization brings in enough funds during the holiday season to sustain you through your 9 month fundraising drought (and even if your situation isn’t so extreme), you could be missing out on revenue, new supporters, or creating stronger bonds with donors.
These are three must-haves for your best holiday campaign ever.
What it is (and isn’t): It’s an alternative (or an additional) way for people to support your mission. It’s your mission and program delivery quantified, in pictures, and at your supporters’ fingertips. It’s an easy and interactive way for people to support you, give gifts and send cards to their loved ones. Symbolic giving is not synonymous with restricted giving. In fact, most symbolic giving catalogues are unrestricted.
Why you should do it: Everyone wins. You get fundraising dollars, new donors, old donors giving more, brand awareness, and media attention. Donors get that feel good feeling, a tax receipt, and a fun and interactive way of giving. Gift recipients get that feel good feeling and a beautiful card (electronic or print).
Get the most out of it: Start marketing early so that you can capture the folks who don’t make last minute gift decisions. This means that the catalogue needs to be ready to go and you need to be able to process payments and get the cards off in a timely matter. Change up the design and messaging and use the catalogue all year-round. Symbolic giving is great for every occasion.
# 2 eCards
What they are: They are electronic cards, with your organization’s branding, that supporters can send to friends and family. While they may be available without making a donation, they’re generally used to acknowledge that a donation has been made, or that a donation has been made in lieu of a gift.
Why you should use them: They are commonly used as part of a symbolic catalogue, and as a special way for people to make a donation in lieu of a gift, but can be used as a standalone campaign as well. eCards are a great engagement piece for current supporters and donors because they provide an easy way for people to show their friends and family that they support and care about your organization. As your supporters send eCards, they spread your organization’s message. For you, eCards help increase your brand-awareness amongst your supporters’ immediate contacts, and they serve as an acquisition tool for new supporters.
How to get the most out of them: The best time for your eCard campaign is prior to the holidays. It’s not enough to just have the eCards on your website so make sure you promote them and encourage supporters to use them. Ask your online and offline supporters to send eCards to their friends and family. Integrate with offline appeals by providing an eCard destination for a holiday card mailing for donors to go to.
# 3 End of Year Email Series
What it is: A set of emails that are sent to your list at the end of the calendar year making a direct fundraising ask.
Why you need to do it: Many people will make an extra donation to a charity in order to maximize the tax-benefits. You want to be their organization of choice. If other organizations are sending an email to their list reminding the recipients of the time of year and requesting that timely, end of year donation, you should too, or you could be forgotten about. From our experience, sending an end of year series brings in more money than just sending one email.
How to get the most out of them: There is real power in sending multiple emails at this time of year over a very short period of time. This year,be sure to send an appeal or two on December 30th and 31st. These two days are consistently the highest revenue driving days for charities for the entire year.
Things you’ll need to make it succeed:
[ ] Up-to-date, clean email list
[ ] Social media integration, Facebook ads and Google AdWords to support the emails and drive an additional audience to give
[ ] Email list rental or other media buy to support acquisition
[ ] An early start to planning, design and copywriting (that means now!)
 Compelling content such as videos, stories and imagery
[ ] A robust email management system that allows segmentation and personalisation
There are other ways to maximize your fundraising during the holiday time too, and you likely have unique opportunities within your organization. If you want to explore ways to increase your holiday fundraising or need help with your holiday campaign, send Matt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 416.588.7780 ext 203