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Why Your End-of-Year Appeal Isn’t Working

Blog Thumbnail EOY Appeal

With 30% of all annual donations occurring in December and more than 12% in the last three days of the year, the end-of-year appeal has long been a significant source of revenue for nonprofits. Often composed of mailers, emails, and/or social media posts, the fundraising tool can be highly successful and, occasionally, yield up to half of the annual budget. 

However, organizations that yield half of their donations through the EOY appeal are definitely an exception to the rule and not the norm. The large majority of organizations actually don’t get the results they want from the EOY appeal.

Here are three reasons why your EOY appeal may not be working:

Segment Your Data

One of the biggest missed opportunities we see is the lack of segmentation within a campaign. To most effectively reach the various audiences within your donor base, you should segment your appeal. This can be done a few ways, whether you categorize donors by number of gifts, dollar amount of gifts, or type of involvement with the organization. 

By segmenting donors, you can send tailored messages to each of the identified categories and even offer suggested giving amounts customized to each donor’s giving history. One caveat to segmenting data is that you must first have clean, useful data to segment. 

Use Multiple Channels 

According to BusinessWire, multi-channel donors give THREE times more than those who have only interacted with a single channel. Despite this, just 3% of nonprofits leverage multi-channel communications. 

Using multiple channels can be as simple as taking advantage of the platforms you already use, like various social media, online newsletters, phone numbers, or mailing lists. The key is for your message to remain consistent across each of these channels and to increase the frequency at which your message is seen. 

With today’s scheduling software, social media and newsletters can be planned out months in advance and left on auto-pilot while mailers and phone calls are attended to in real-time, leaving plenty of capacity for your development team to tackle several channels at once.

Communicate with Your Donors Regularly 

Finally, making the mistake of only asking donors once each year is one of the biggest reasons your end-of-year appeal could be flopping. If donors have not been primed throughout the year to know your organization’s accomplishments and goals and have not been treated as though they are important to the cause, they will be less likely to give. 

Recently, national donor retention rates have dropped from 45% to just under 40%. By communicating with your donors throughout the year and stewarding them toward increased involvement, retention rates can increase, thereby increasing gifts to your end-of-year campaign and throughout the year. 

The end-of-year campaign can be a very effective method of fundraising when done right. Rather than being asked once in December, your donors want to be involved in your organization throughout the year and will contribute in countless ways when they identify as champions for your cause. Furthermore, your greatest success will come when you’re using your data smartly and consistently communicating across all available channels. 

Want to learn more about using your data smartly? What about donor communication? Or maybe you’d like a whole session dedicated to the end-of-year appeal. You can find each of these classes and more in our Learning Library, where each of our Fundraising Masterclasses are uploaded for you to learn at your own pace! See the full list here.

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Jonathan Weber-Mendez

Jonathan Weber-Mendez is a nonprofit fundraising professional with a Master’s in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Since 2018, Jonathan has served Write On Fundraising in multiple capacities working with both our nonprofit partners and staff to fulfill the company’s mission. As Director of Mission Impact, Jonathan helps equip staff with the education and resources needed to provide equity and compassion to philanthropy.

Prior to joining Write On Fundraising, Jonathan served as a staff grant writer for YWCA Tulsa and then Folds of Honor. Jonathan began his career of service in the United States Army where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom before working in the nonprofit sector.

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Melody Timinsky

Melody is a skilled fundraiser and strategic leader with areas of expertise in social impact, donor development, and grant evaluation and management. Prior to joining Write On Fundraising, Melody worked as a corporate consultant for Tyson, was the Vice President of Community Impact at the United Way of Northwest Arkansas, and served in a variety of leadership roles throughout the community.

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Jace Pavlik

Jace Pavlik is an experienced manager with years in leadership, employee relations, and customer service. Jace is currently studying for his master’s in Business at Oklahoma State University. Prior to joining Write On Fundraising, Jace worked as general manager of Topeca Coffee for over four years.

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Laura Orwig

Laura is a communications professional with years of experience in content creation, channel management, and strategy implementation. Laura has her Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. Prior to joining the Write On team, Laura traveled the country in an RV, vlogging her experience and utilizing social media to promote her brand. In addition, Laura worked with several anti-trafficking nonprofits in improving their communications strategy execution. Now, she travels part-time in her self-converted van, rock climbing across the country with her husband and two cats. 

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Lindsay Jordan

Lindsay Jordan is the Founder and CEO of Write On Fundraising, a fundraising firm that exclusively serves nonprofits throughout the country. Lindsay has a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and is a three-time Certified Fund Raising Executive. In addition, in 2020 and 2021, Lindsay was recognized as a Most Admired CEO by The Journal Record and named the “Small Business Person of the Year” by the Tulsa Regional Chamber in 2021.

Prior to founding Write On Fundraising, Lindsay worked in executive fundraising roles for several large nonprofits including the Alzheimer’s Association, YWCA, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. With more than $100 million raised for worthy causes, Lindsay works to build capacity for nonprofits and is deeply committed to developing upstream fundraising methodologies that bring greater equity to philanthropy.

Lindsay lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, Aaron, and two young children, Oliver and Leo. When she’s not fundraising and speaking, she can usually be found curled up with a good book, hiking with her family, or trying her hand at a new recipe.