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Leveraging Smart Appeals during the Calendar-Year-End Season

Dec 2023 - READ IN 4 MINUTES

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With GivingTuesday done and dusted, it may feel like your window for 2023 donor appeals has passed. But, the reality is the giving season has only just begun. Calendar-year-end (CYE) giving provides the opportunity to lean into the spirit of generosity that often accompanies the holiday season. But, this time of year also brings with it long to-do lists and little time–for both donors and fundraisers alike. 

Rather than build a whole CYE campaign from scratch, look to former and current donors to boost your end-of-year numbers. Crafting your CYE appeals around anniversary donors, recurring donors, and LYBUNTs will not only save you time but likely lead to higher donor conversion rates. 

That’s why GiveCampus created Smart Appeals–a low-lift way to renew your most loyal donors and capture those who just lapsed. Below you’ll learn how to use this automated solution to identify high-potential target segments. Plus, find messaging best practices for communicating with these key donor groups. 

Smart Appeals—Simplify Donor Retention Strategies

In the world of educational fundraising, prioritizing donor retention stands as a cornerstone for sustained success. On the heels of GivingTuesday and amid the peak of the global giving season, calendar-year-end is a pivotal period for retaining valuable supporters. Luckily, Smart Appeals by GiveCampus can help streamline your retention efforts and is available to all GiveCampus Partners with GC Social Fundraising or GC Giving Forms. Smart Appeals empowers fundraisers with the ability to effortlessly identify anniversary and recurring donors who are up for renewal this month and next, and those who recently lapsed. Beyond curating these crucial lists, you can use Smart Appeals to send hyper-personalized solicitations en masse from within the GiveCampus platform. Email templates are easy to customize with built-in merge field options that allow you to easily tailor the messaging your donors receive.

In addition to simplifying retention-based donor outreach, the Smart Appeals feature provides real-time insights on the success of your solicitations—a valuable asset during peak giving season. You get immediate visibility into essential metrics including donor engagement on emails, dollars generated by each appeal, and donor conversions. Equipped with these metrics and more, you can fine-tune your CYE strategies on the fly to maximize the dollars raised before December 31 rolls around. 

Read How Westminster School Leverages Smart Appeals Ahead of their Annual Giving Day

Smart Appeals uses historical gift data to identify and surface high-priority donor segments—recurring donors and anniversary donors. Below you’ll find some additional tips for developing messaging for these key donor audiences during your CYE appeals.

Learn More About Smart Appeals

Crafting Successful Anniversary Donor Solicitations

Whether you put all your fundraising fuel behind GivingTuesday or have various CYE campaigns, chances are you have some donor anniversaries that recently lapsed or are fast approaching. 

An anniversary appeal is exactly what it sounds like–an appeal made on or near the date a donor previously made a gift. This is a prime opportunity to recognize your donor’s loyalty, remind them of their previous gift’s impact, and encourage them to make another contribution this year. Anniversary appeals can be a highly effective retention-based strategy that helps you close the gap on your year-end fundraising goals. Below are some best practices for crafting successful messaging for anniversary donors. 

1. Keep It Simple and Direct 

Stay focused on what is special about this type of solicitation: it’s based on their anniversary and the importance of regular support. Don’t write a novel, but remind them that it’s been a year since they donated and why ongoing support is important. Highlight some of the ways their past gift or gifts have made an impact and how their continued support will help make a difference at your institution. 

2. Be Personal 

Consider writing your appeal in the voice of your annual giving director—not the institution. Donors receive many general solicitations from the school. Try to make this one feel a little more personal with the tone and signatories. Make it feel like someone in the advancement office is personally reaching out with a reminder about their anniversary. 

3. Don’t ‘Thask’

Don’t thank the donor, and ask them for another gift in the same breath. You can remind them of the impact of giving more broadly without ‘thasking.’

4. Set Up Templates and Adjust for Topical Content

Set up your upcoming, current, and anniversary email templates to be broad and usable year-round. Then, when you send emails each month, you can adjust for more timely content. For example, you might reference the nostalgia of going back to school during September oryou might adjust the language to reference a CYE campaign. Smart Appeals makes setting up email templates simple and you can even email your selected anniversary donors right from within the GiveCampus platform. You can also use custom links to pre-populate donor information and ask amounts, creating an easy, tailored giving experience for returning donors.

Notifying Recurring Donors About Renewals 

Did you know that the expected lifetime value of a recurring gift is nearly ten times that of a one-time donation? Many major gifts and estate gifts end up coming from donors who have given year after year, even if their initial donations were modest. With the subscription economy normalizing recurring payments, more donors are likely to be receptive to setting up an automatic annual recurring gift. 

The GiveCampus platform makes it simple for schools to offer donors the option to make a set-it-and-forget-it gift. It also makes it easy to notify donors when their commitment is up for renewal or expired.

Smart Appeals can help fundraisers stay on top of this critical window so they maintain recurring donors or recapture recently lapsed ones. Here are a few messaging tips to consider when speaking to these key segments of donors. 

1. Highlight Impact

Clearly communicate the impact of their recurring donations. Share success stories, achievements, and milestones that were made possible through their consistent support. This helps donors see the tangible outcomes of their contributions. Offer exclusive content or sneak peeks to recurring donors as a token of appreciation. This could include behind-the-scenes updates, exclusive reports, or invitations to special events.

2. Create a Retention-Focused, Recurring-Only Giving Form 

Consider creating a retention-focused giving form specifically for recurring donors that you link to in your solicitation. Keep the content and visuals donor-centric to help these recurring donors feel known and not like they’re just a fish in a sea of many prospective donors. 

3. Offer Options for Modification 

Provide easy-to-follow instructions on how donors can modify their recurring donations if they wish to make changes. This could include adjusting the donation amount, changing the frequency, or updating payment details. Make the process as seamless as possible.

Use the tips above to craft Smart Appeals email templates that strengthen your relationship with recurring donors and encourage continued support.

Make Smarter Appeals Year Round

While Smart Appeals is a powerful tool to help you engage your loyal donors between now and the end of the year, like other GiveCampus solutions it can help to turbocharge your fundraising initiatives all year long. If you’re not already a GiveCampus Partner, consider learning more about how our solutions can help you crush your fundraising goals. From creating high-converting giving forms for everyday online giving to developing tiered campaigns complete with matches and challenges to hosting complex events like reunions and homecomings, GiveCampus is here to help you succeed at every stage of the fundraising funnel. 

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