When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton reportedly replied, “because that’s where the money is.” (He later denied this, but very few people actually said what they said in quotes.)For most nonprofits, year-end is where the money is. This is especially true for online giving, where the month of December can sometimes outpace the previous 11 months combined.

And it’s somewhat natural that this should be the case. It is the last chance for people to donate to get a donation on the present year’s taxes (although I suspect this reason is overblown). You have a good view at the end of the year of the state of your finances and know how much you have to give once basic needs and gifts to family and friends are taken care of. The spirit of the holidays – family, togetherness, the sense of being a part of something greater than yourself – naturally leads to a giving desire. And the commercial aspects of the holidays makes some want to invest in something that is selfless and permanent in reaction.

By now, you hopefully have your year-end campaign planned; you may even be starting to execute it.

But too often, year-end giving campaigns are segregated by silo or medium – a greeting card to major donors here, a last chance mail piece there, and emails all over the place. In order to have as many gifts under the tree as we’d like, a stronger approach is to create a multichannel end-of-year campaign. That means starting with audience, rather than medium.So here are some key audiences for year-end:

  • LYBUNTs – Last Year, But Unfortunately Not This Year. There are people who have given to you before, but haven’t yet donated this year. I’d recommend especially looking for people who gave to you in the last few months of the previous year, as some of these will be people who do a majority or all of their giving around year-end.
  • Multiyear SYBUNTs – Some Year, But Unfortunately Not This Year. Year-end can also be a time for lapsed reactivation. If someone has given to you every year-end for five years, but not the past one, it may be that they just missed you – you don’t want to miss them as a result.
  • Major, mid-major, and sustaining donors. Year-end is a good time to show these vital groups your love of them. You may say that any time is a good time, and you would be right, but there are nice opportunities like handwritten holiday cards that don’t some around in May. Your year-end plan for these donors should also reach into year-beginning, as you send them a summary of their giving and a discussion of all of the good they brought about in the previous year.
  • Warm leads. Those people who have signed up for your newsletter, volunteered, taken advocacy steps, downloaded your materials, etc., may be more willing to donate now in the season of giving.
  • And don’t ignore your main donor base by any means.

So those are some of the major audiences to think about at year-end, each with a slightly different spin on messaging.

The trick is that that messaging needs to be consistent, and break through the noise. If you have designs on your donors, it’s fair to say other organizations will as well. So next week we’ll talk about some traditional ways to weave together a coherent year-end multichannel campaign.

Nick Ellinger
Vice President of Strategic Outreach
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
National Office
511 E. John Carpenter Freeway
Suite 700
Irving, TX 75062

469.420.4494 direct
972.869.2206 fax
Visit us at www.madd.org

Read more of his direct marketing thoughts here