One week out from 30 June and I’m checking in with the charities I work with to see where fundraising income is up to for their tax appeals.
So where is YOUR non-profit up to?
At this point, if you’re not up to at least 50% of your tax appeal target, I can pretty confidently say you won’t reach it. (Please see the disclaimer below though.)
Personally, I prefer it if my fundraising clients are closer to 70% at this point.
But yes, if you run a standard direct mail tax appeal to your house file… it’s fairly common for 30-50% of donations to come in during the last week before June 30.
That’s despite all you may do to encourage donors to donate earlier. All those direct mail packs – one, two or even three lodging as early as April.
And they STILL wait till 29 or 30 June to donate!
Very frustrating… but donors are human and wait till the last minute before taking action!
If your tax appeal looks like it’s not going to make your target, there are a few things you can do. (Yes, they involve work. I didn’t say they were easy.)
While I can’t promise that these will get you over the line, they will help lift your overall total.
1. Email more aggressively during the last week – or email if you don’t already.
I know, I know.
I can hear the howls of protest about contacting donors yet AGAIN.
But I can tell you the best performing emails for tax appeals in terms of income are sent in that final week before June 30. Don’t be afraid to send two, three or even more emails.
And yes, you will get complaints – just be prepared to answer them (some tips on that in this article). And yes, you will get unsubscribes. But believe me, if your email is written using proven direct response techniques, you will raise more money.
The only time this may not work is if your email list is very small and/ or your website donation experience is very poor. (I’ll be writing about the latter in future but for now refer to this and this.)
2. Call some of your donors and ask them to give.
This will likely lift your response rate and average gift.
You need a good script. Thank them for their past giving and generosity. Explain your need. Ask for a gift based on their giving history.
If they say no, fine. Thank them and hang up. (Or reduce the ask and see if they’ll come to the party.)
You’ll find some of them will donate. And those that do most likely will give more than if they’d just responded to a mailing.
3. Send out an emergency mailing to a select group of your best donors.
Explain you’re facing a budget shortfall before June 30. Explain what will happen if you can’t meet your funding target.
And ask them to please donate!
Note: Don’t get tied up with fancy artwork here. Get a letter written and get it out there.
Please note the statement made applies only to tax appeals.
Also, other campaign decisions or activities may affect whether you’re at 50% of your target a week before June 30.
For example, some non-profits will still accept donations for their tax appeals for 2-4 weeks after June 30. Or media or acquisition activities may skew the overall income total and timing. Or you may have some major donors that don’t give until the very last minute which mean you don’t reach that 50% mark. Or you always send a mailing in the last week that you know tips the balance for you.
If this is the case, the 50% point for your tax appeal will be different.