Every year, we’re focused on supporting schools in this final stretch before the fiscal year ends. We take this role seriously, making sure that our busy partner schools have the resources, support, and inspiration they need to reach their fiscal year goals. Everyone in the educational fundraising community understands the importance of messaging and campaign themes that will resonate with their donors—just because a school’s fiscal year ends on June 30 doesn’t mean that deadline resonates with donors. The strongest giving days, volunteer outreach, and campaign strategies find ways to make giving feel immediate, relevant, and purposeful—and happen to bring those gifts in before FYE.
Here are 10 communications strategies we recommend for the rest of the month. For schools that are already GiveCampus partners, read a more in-depth take on a community-centered FYE strategy, including a webinar that highlights how GiveCampus tools and features can bring your strategy to life.
(Not a GiveCampus partner school yet? Schedule an informational call to learn more about strategy, products, and pricing today!)
1. Choose a theme or purpose.
Again, most of your donors don’t have the same fiscal year deadline seared in their brains as you and your fundraising team. When you choose the name of your giving day, the subject lines for your emails, or the theme of your week-long campaign, think about what content will bring your community together and remind them of the impact your institution makes.
Here are some previews of the ways our partner schools have used the Social Fundraising Platform to showcase specific, meaningful campaign themes:
2. Find emotional ties—graduation is a great one!
A timely event that most donors can relate to is graduation. Share photos, montages, and livestream feeds of graduation speakers (even without a “live” audience) before, during, or after the event. Graduation shows your community coming together with a familiar ritual that reminds alumni of their time on campus and a milestone that still matters to them.
3. Layer in a second ask.
Donors who have already given during this fiscal year may very well be willing to give again before the end of June. You don’t need to exclude these donors during your FYE campaign, especially if you communicate how much their previous gift has already made an impact.
4. Acknowledge this unique moment.
COVID-19 has affected everyone’s fundraising plans over the past year—but it’s also affected everyone, period. Talk about how COVID-19 has affected students, teachers and professors, staff, parents, and community members—and share how the Annual Fund or any other emergency fund you may be fundraising for has helped your community pull through.
5. Make room for fun.
Just because you’re fundraising in a challenging time doesn’t mean your communications strategy has to feel heavy or extra serious. We recommend the guiding principle of your communications be compassion — acknowledge challenges and the greater purpose of your fundraising campaign, and draw people in with light-hearted messaging. There’s plenty of room to get corny, ask advocates to make silly content, and lean into what makes your community vibrant, diverse, quirky, and energized. Give donors the gift of feel-good content: Remind them of the benefits of belonging to a community like yours in the first place.
6. Give people a way to engage with each other—even beyond giving.
Show faces and incorporate voices into your emails, campaign pages, and video content. Ask your audience to share posts or send messages to their peers or students. Participation of all kinds is a great way to “show, not just tell” the value of your community.
7. Be thoughtful about communicating your goal.
We have resources about dollar vs. donor goals for our GiveCampus partner schools, and during this spring in particular, have encouraged schools to promote a donor goal on their social fundraising campaigns. Make giving joyful for everyone in your community by letting them know any gift on their part has an equal impact on the goal.
8. Focus on the thank you messaging.
We know that thank you messages for volunteers and donors are a standard part of any campaign—and this year especially, we know that schools feel grateful for all kinds of support, including gifts and overall engagement. Many volunteers have been more active this spring than other years, taking on the roll of speaking directly to their peers. We recommend taking the time to customize your thank yous for advocates, volunteers, and donors—not only for their specific actions, but for being part of a compassionate community. (Have you used a video thank you page before? We recommend Spotlight!)
9. Consider a feel-good incentive.
All spring, we’ve been impressed by the incentives that schools have woven into their social fundraising campaigns (a built-in feature on GiveCampus). We’ve seen schools offer phone calls from beloved faculty members, temporary naming rights to favorite campus spots, and gifts that go directly to seniors who are missing out on a traditional graduation and senior spring. Incentives that connect donors back to the school and offer a chance to keep paying it forward feel especially relevant this FYE.
10. Focus on different messengers, and lean on your volunteers.
Last but definitely not least: Volunteers can be your strongest FYE messengers, building on messages that your institution has already sent or templated, and adding a personal spin. Volunteers may have the strongest sense of how their assignments are prepared to engage during an uncertain time, and also may provide a much-welcome connection during a time when it’s harder to feel community in person. That’s one of the reasons we built our Volunteer Management System to make it easy for volunteers to share and customize email templates with just a few clicks.