The end of the year can be stressful and exciting. If you’re in a cold climate, you may be using up more straw and hay, heating costs are increasing, and residents who are sensitive to the cold might be needing extra care. On top of all of that, it’s the busiest time of the year for fundraising!
Why is the end of the year so busy for fundraisers? First of all, it’s often the last chance for Non-governmental organizations whose primary purpose is something other than selling goods or services. to meet their budgetary goals. For donors, it’s the season of giving and also the last opportunity for donors in the U.S. to make tax-deductible donations for that tax year. 37% of annual giving occurs between October and December and a staggering 12% of annual giving happens in the last three days of the year. In order to make the most of this opportune time, it is critical to develop a year-end fundraising strategy.
Throughout this resource, we will define year-end fundraising as fundraising that happens in November and December. Most organizations launch their year-end campaigns in mid-November to include Giving Tuesday, but if you are a sanctuary that is home to Unless explicitly mentioned, we are referring to domesticated turkey breeds, not wild turkeys, who may have unique needs not covered by this resource. residents, you are in a position to leverage the whole month of November to do some fundraising around them. Even if you don’t provide care for Unless explicitly mentioned, we are referring to domesticated turkey breeds, not wild turkeys, who may have unique needs not covered by this resource., you might be able to do fundraising around chicken or pig residents, since those animals are also often consumed on Thanksgiving. This could include turkey sponsorships or “adoptions,” a fall festival, or a An individual that seeks to eliminate the exploitation of and cruelty to nonhuman animals as much as possible, including the abstention from elements of animal exploitation in non-food instances when possible and practicable as well. The term vegan can also be used as an adjective to describe a product, organization, or way of living that seeks to eliminate the exploitation of and cruelty to nonhuman animals as much as possible (e.g., vegan cheese, vegan restaurant, etc.). Thanksgiving feast.
The best place to start with planning is to evaluate last year’s campaign if applicable. When you’re going through each section of this resource, think about prior years as it pertains to the topic. What went well? What would you like to do differently? Revisit these questions frequently.
Developing A Goal
If you are a registered 501(c)(3), your sanctuary should have a clear, board-approved budget that you follow which can be used to inform how you develop year-end goals. If you are just getting started, see our resource on how to develop a fundraising plan.
Your goal should be a stretch: challenging to achieve but still attainable. You may be surprised how much you can raise with some intentional planning and dedicated effort! Aim to hit your goal in the last few days of the year to take advantage of the increased giving during that time. Getting your goal to that sweet spot might not happen your first year, or even your first few years. But not to worry, you can always create a new goal if you hit it early. If you don’t reach your goal, you have a better idea of how to develop next year’s goal!
If you have at least one year of operation under your belt, a good place to start when developing your goal is to look at last year’s year-end fundraising. If you were very active in your year-end fundraising and you reached your goal, you may want to consider increasing this year’s goal by 10%. If you were actively fundraising but didn’t hit your goal, consider making your goal what you did end up raising. If you were not actively fundraising, consider making your goal up to 50% more than what you raised. Your goal will be unique to your sanctuary and this formulacan help you come up with a goal that is right for you.
When planning out your year-end fundraising strategy, it can be helpful to think about what campaigns you are going to run and then develop a monetary goal for each one. For example, your goals could look like:
- Turkey sponsorships: $1,000
- Giving Tuesday: $3,000
- Year-end campaign: $30,000
If you have a more robust fundraising plan, you may also want to consider developing goals for the number of new and existing donors you want to engage, average donation size, number of new recurring gifts, and number of volunteers who give.
Secure A Match
Now that you have your goal, let’s talk about getting a match. Knowing that their donation will be doubled – or even tripled – can motivate donors to give now and give more. Here are just a few statistics around when a matching donation is offered, as outlined by betterfundraising.com:
- There is a 51% increase in the average donation amount when there’s a match.
- Mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 71% increase in the response rate.
- 84% of survey participants revealed they’re more likely to donate if a match was offered.
- When a match is offered, one in three donors indicates they gave a larger gift because matching was applied to their donation.
- Match-funding is the most likely factor to make donors give more. Match-funding even scored higher than emergency appeals.
Additionally, the vast majority of nonprofits get matches, so in order to be as appealing as possible to donors and incentivize your supporters to give at this time, it is highly encouraged to secure a match for your year-end campaign. For more tips on how to get a fundraising match, check out this resource!
Ideally the amount of your match will be half of your total fundraising goal and it will be the amount that you publicly raise. For example, if you need to raise $50,000 by year end, aim to get a $25,000 match and then have your campaign goal be $25,000. You would use $25,000 in your trackers and your appeals.
You can also use an additional match at any point during year-end to fuel donations in a short period of time. This could be launched in the last few days of the year, in the beginning of the month, or anytime in between. If you choose to have an additional match, it would be on top of your larger year-end match, resulting in a triple match. This is an opportunity for donors to not only double but triple the impact of their gifts. This type of opportunity generally does well with a tight deadline to create urgency, as short as 24 hours or one week.
Many major donors will be happy to use their large gifts for a match. You also don’t need to rely on just one donor for your match! You can solicit matching donations from a pool of major donors. You can start by looking at your major donors and see who hasn’t given a gift yet, or evaluate who might have the capacity to give another large gift if they have already given. Another great place to start is your board members. If they can’t give a matching gift themselves, they might be able to connect you with someone who can, including a major donor, small business, corporation, or influencer.
When framing the ask to your major donor, you can say something like “Would you like the opportunity to multiply your giving and increase your impact for the animals?” You can let them know the stats from above around matching donations. It can also be helpful to have visual materials – either printed or virtual – that highlight your The stated goals and activities of an organization. An animal sanctuary’s mission is commonly focused on objectives such as animal rescue and public advocacy., vision, and values, resident stories, the impact your sanctuary has made to date, your ask and the impact it will have, and what (if anything) you can offer in return. Benefits to offer can be mentions or logos placed in emails and social media, business promotion, a tour of the sanctuary, or other VIP treatment.
It’s important to highlight your match in all of your year-end fundraising materials, as well as update your supporters on how close you are to reaching that goal with each appeal. A fundraising thermometer is a great way to visually show supporters how much you’ve raised. Include a tracker on e-appeals as well as on your website and fundraising platform.
Here are a few phrases to get started when talking about your match:
- We have $X left until we reach our goal.
- Your gift today will be doubled and make twice the impact for farmed animals!
- Double your impact for animals by giving today!
- With your help, we can make twice the difference for farmed animals.
- All gifts right now are being matched thanks to a generous donor/group of generous donors. But only until December 31st, so give today to double the impact of your gift.
- We have a match for up to $X, so please give today so we can reach our goal and make twice the impact for farmed animals!
- $10 becomes $20, $100 becomes $200, and $500 becomes $1,000.
Another great opportunity for supporters to increase their impact is to get a match from their employer. Double the Donation has a list of companies who match donations. Encourage your supporters to see if their company is on the list, or check with their employer to see if they will match their donation. Some companies will even match at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio! This is a great ask to work into your appeals.
A Theme For Your Year-End Campaign
Developing a theme is an important part of year-end planning because it will inform much of your communication efforts, such as the stories that you tell in your appeals, visual design, and what you want your supporters to remember. By working within a theme, your content creation process should be more streamlined and easier than without a theme.
A theme will tie together your campaign, creating a cohesive look and feel to your communications and an overarching message that you’re conveying to your donors. You can start by brainstorming around some of the following questions:
- What is relevant to our sanctuary right now?
- What do we want supporters to know about our sanctuary and residents?
- How can we convey our mission in a creative way?
- Do we want to feature a specific program or initiative?
Some ideas and thought-starters for themes include:
- Anniversary year (1-, 5-, 10-year anniversary celebration)
- Recent rescue
- Elderly resident care
- Capital campaign
- Humane education
- Preparation for upcoming year
- Slogan or message (i.e. “I am someone,” or “[Sanctuary name] is my home,” with messages coming from individual residents)
- Transformation, featuring resident transformations from when they were first rescued up until now
- If it was a big rescue year, those rescues can be your theme
You don’t necessarily need to pick a theme as specific as the ones above. The goal is to create a cohesive look and feel to your campaign that donors will recognize and remember, so your theme could be as simple as a specific color palette and/or design elements in your communications materials that tie everything together!
Once you have your theme, you can develop a communications plan. You can start by getting your design assets in place, which should include some or all of the following: website banner and popup, facebook cover photo, social media posts, email headers and pictures, direct mail pieces, and videos. A unique hashtag that your sanctuary and its supporters can use can also generate excitement for your campaign.
Think about creative social media content to tie into your theme. For example, if your theme is elderly resident care, you could share elderly resident stories on social media, maybe sharing pictures from when they were first rescued and the care they’ve required for their time at your sanctuary, including the specialized care they need in their later years.
As another example, if your theme is humane education, get testimonials from individuals who have been impacted by your humane education efforts and plug them into your appeals. You can also have messages come from specific residents saying “People meet me and see me as an individual. My story and I are inspiring people to stop exploiting chickens/pigs/cows/etc.”
If you’re having trouble coming up with creative content, ask your volunteers if they have any ideas! Often times volunteers are brimming with fun ideas about how to fundraise and engage people, since they themselves are inspired to engage with and support your residents.
There are endless ways that you can raise funds for your sanctuary. We’ve listed a few channels below that are particularly impactful during the end of the year. Check out the sample calendar which accompanies this resource to figure out how to best incorporate them with your sanctuary timeline!
Yes, people still give by snail mail! In fact, many people prefer the personal touch of tangible mail. Depending on the size of your sanctuary, you can print your mail in house, work with a local printer, or if you have enough funds, work with a mailhouse who can manage this for you. Make sure your mail piece is in line with your theme, highlights your match multiple times, has a direct call to action, and includes a return envelope with gift amounts. Note that there are state-by-state fundraising requirements that your organization may want to be aware of!
Pro tip: to increase the rate at which your mailings are opened, recruit volunteers to hand write the addresses of your top 10/100/500+ donors.
Aim to send at least one email per week and every day for the last three days of the year. It may seem like a lot, especially if you don’t email that often, but a higher frequency of emails during year-end will increase the likelihood of your supporters giving to your sanctuary. Plus, they will be receiving many emails from other nonprofits and businesses during this time, so you want to make sure your emails are seen and don’t get lost.
Pro tip: in addition to promoting your year-end campaign, include a plug for another way to give, whether it be an employer match, Amazon Smile, sponsoring a resident’s care as a holiday gift, asking for donations as a holiday gift, etc.
Social media can be tricky for fundraising because the algorithms may hide your content. Fundraisers hosted on social media platforms will perform better than posts linking out to your website or fundraising platform, but the tradeoff is that it is more difficult to collect donor data and steward those supporters. Live videos are a great way to engage supporters, especially when you are with your residents in the video. Who doesn’t want to take a break from work to spend some virtual time with rescued animals? You can also run paid ads to promote your year-end campaign that can link out to your fundraising platform, just be sure to test and evaluate the cost/benefit.
Pro tip: ask your followers to like, comment, and share your content to boost your reach.
Calling on supporters to fundraise for you can amplify your reach during year-end. Encourage your donors to ask for donations as holiday gifts, if they feel inspired.
Pro tip: build a webpage with “how to” information on creating effective peer-to-peer campaigns, including resident stories they can share, how to promote their campaigns, and sharing why they support your sanctuary.
Recruit volunteers to call your donors and ask for support for your year-end campaign. Consider asking volunteers who also donate to your organization as they may be able to connect well to other donors. There are different strategies for what your script can look like, but at a high level, you’ll want to thank them for their past support, share about why your mission is important and what funds will be supporting, and then ask for their support once more. Your script can look something like: “Hi [name], this is [volunteer name] calling on behalf of [your sanctuary]. How are you doing today? I wanted to thank you for your giving this year. You have helped to care for the residents of [your sanctuary] and rescue more animals this year who would have otherwise been sent to slaughter. I wanted to give you an update [give a quick update on a recent rescue, resident update, or other programmatic update]. However, there’s still a lot of work to do. We just launched our year-end fundraiser and all donations are currently being matched. These funds will help to care for our rescued residents and aid in future rescues for animals in need [tie in your theme here]. I wanted to see if you would be able to give $25 today to have your impact doubled and help us reach our goal of $X.” Here is a more in depth guide on how to develop your call script. Prepare your volunteers to be able to take donations over the phone or email the campaign if the donor would prefer to donate online themselves. Volunteers can jot down notes of their call that can later be imported into your customer relationship management software, or other recordkeeping mechanisms through which you keep track of your donors, their donations, and your responses to them.
1:1 Emails To Major Donors
Emailing major donors directly with a personalized note and ask to support your year-end campaign can have a profound impact on your fundraising goal and your relationship with them. Make sure you acknowledge their prior giving and extend your gratitude for their ongoing support, while directly asking for support for your year-end campaign.
Pro tip: include pictures and updates on some of their favorite residents or programs.
Texting can be an effective way to get younger supporters to donate. There are plenty of text-to-give platforms nowadays. Here’s a list that includes a few.
While adding an event to year-end fundraising will inevitably create additional planning and effort, a holiday fundraiser may be well worth it, especially if it is targeted towards major donors and has a high ticket price. Think art gallery gathering or a classy evening at a major donor’s home. This event could have its own fundraising goal and a clear ask highlighting the match and end-of-year campaign.
Pro tip: recruit volunteers to do the heavy lifting around logistics so you can focus on the fundraising aspect of the event.
Messaging for year-end campaigns involves many of the same basics as general fundraising. Here are a few guidelines and creative ideas to consider:
- Feature individuals and tell stories. Either the story of a rescued resident or family of residents, the story from a volunteer or donor, or a story from a visitor can be very powerful. As you likely know, stories are more impactful than rattling off statistics (though numbers can be powerful too at times) and they are often more engaging for supporters. It’s part of the reason why sanctuaries are so effective at changing people’s perceptions of farmed animals!
- Include pictures. Headshots of residents are great, especially when you can see their eyes. It helps supporters connect to who they are helping.
- Highlight the call to action in multiple locations. Be clear and direct in asking people to give. Always include an ask in the beginning and at the end, and if it’s an email appeal, include a button or two in between.
- Thank your supporters! Find different and creative ways of thanking your supporters. You couldn’t do this work without them, after all! Emphasize that this work is a team effort and that your supporters and the sanctuary are working together in unison towards your mission.
- Share tangibly what different levels of gifts can buy. Donors like to know the impact of their gift and how it is making a difference. For example, you can say $25 feeds your chicken residents for two days. Or $200 covers one physical therapy session to your disabled goat resident, Tony. One important note here is to be careful about your wording so it is not overly restrictive. Use phrases like “Your gift will go towards helping residents like Tony” or “Your gift will go towards helping Tony and all of the current and future residents of [sanctuary]” rather than “Your gift will go directly towards paying for Tony’s care,” which may limit what you can do with funds raised from that appeal.
- Provide incentives for different gift amounts. This could be a shoutout on social media, a personalized video from the residents, or a private tour. The sky’s the limit!
- Create urgency. Compel your donors to give now, although keep in mind that using catastrophizing language can actually be a turn off for donors, and potentially cause them to question the stability of your organization
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some tips on year-end specific messaging:
- Always mention your match. Sample verbiage can be found above in the match section.
- Provide an update on where you’re at with your goal and how much you have left to raise. People like giving specific amounts, so one creative call to action is to break down the size of gift and number of gifts left and craft a specific appeal around that. For example, “If 55 people each give $23, we will reach our goal” and then have the gift amounts for that appeal be in increments of $23. If it’s your 10-year anniversary, you could ask for gifts in increments of $10. If you have 46 residents, you could ask for $46. There are many ways to ask for specific amounts. Get creative with it!
- Weave your theme into your messaging.
- Mention the December 31st deadline for your goal, the match, and tax deductibility (if your organization is eligible).
When communicating with your donors, segmentation can be a great way for you to stand out. Segmentation involves grouping your donors based on shared characteristics, like giving history. Segmenting your donors and providing customized messaging can help your donors feel appreciated and like you know who they are. Here are a few ways that you can use segmentation:
- Segment people who have already given to your email campaign and don’t email them every time. If you ask them again, use messaging such as “Thank you for your gift of $X which was doubled to $Y. We still have $Z amount to raise to reach our matching goal. Can you spare another $X to help the animals?”
- Segment people who have given earlier in the year but not yet to your year-end campaign. You can use messaging such as “Thank you for your generosity this year in helping the animals. Your gift has helped provide food, shelter, and top notch care to our rescued residents. We have a match until December 31st and all donations are doubled. Can you help the animals once more by giving today? Your donation will be doubled!”
- Segment to those who gave last year but not yet this year.
- Segment to those who have not opened prior year-end emails. Use a catchy subject line including eye-catching terms like ICYMI, FWD:, RE:, Did you see my email, etc.
You should be stewarding your donors year-round and letting them know how important they are to your sanctuary and mission. The holidays are an excellent time to deploy multiple stewardship strategies that both thank your supporters and encourage them to give to your year-end campaign.
First and foremost, donor acknowledgements are a must. Look for a resource soon on donee acknowledgment letters for more information!
A year-end video is an excellent way to cover a lot of ground. You can use a video to highlight your accomplishments for the year, promote your year-end campaign, and thank your supporters.
Hosting a thank-a-thon is another great way to stand out to your supporters and show your sincere appreciation. This is an opportunity to thank your donors over the phone for their support this year without a donation ask, to strengthen the relationship, and even to regain lost donors! Phone calls are fantastic for donor retention and in the long run can result in higher donation amounts. It can be powerful to have volunteers and board members participate as they can relate to your donors in an authentic way. Greater Giving has a complete guide on how to host a thank-a-thon. In your thank you script, be sure to talk about the impact the donor has had on your sanctuary and residents. You can also make it a two-way conversation to learn more about why the donor supports your sanctuary.
Specific holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, are also an opportunity to send emails and post on social media about your gratitude for your supporters.
If you have the means, a tiered stewardship plan can go a long way. With this plan, people who give at different levels will receive different types of thank yous which can include a thank you letter on behalf of the staff and/or residents, a thank you call or text, an invitation for a tour, a personalized email or video, a mention on social media or donor spotlight in an email (with their permission!) and any other special way to say thank you.
There are endless ways to show your supporters your gratitude and include your residents in the process, so be sure to work some creative stewardship into your end of year fundraising plan to increase goodwill and retention among your supporters.
Now that you know the ins and outs of how to run a year-end campaign, it’s time to put it all together in a timeline on a calendar. We’ve put together a sample schedule for you to use as a model! You can customize this schedule to fit your specific year-end campaign. If you utilize calendars at your sanctuary, it may make more sense for you to put your plan directly into your sanctuary’s calendar.
This calendar is formatted for 2022, so update it accordingly for the year for which you are fundraising. This is meant to be a starting point and can be as in depth as you need it to be.
Enter either your organization’s name or your name and email below to download the free fundraising calendar sample spreadsheet!
We promise not to use your email for any marketing purposes! Would you prefer to access this spreadsheet in a different way? Contact us and let us know!
When developing your schedule, know that working an effective communication flow into your timeline will ensure that your communications are seen by donors. Many organizations are vying for supporters’ attention, so you need to make sure your messages are seen. A reasonable flow, or cadence, is at least one email and at least two social media engagements each week (this can look like a fundraiser promotion, live video, story, etc). In the last three or four days of the year, an email every day is standard, with two to three emails on December 31st.
But what about people who have already given to your campaign? Should you still keep soliciting them? This is where segmentation can be extremely helpful. Segmentation tips are outlined above.
Other General Tips
Here are a few additional tips and ideas to consider when developing your year-end fundraising plan:
- Gather testimonials on your donation page. Ask donors what inspired them to give and then share their stories.
- Develop an infographic that conveys your impact for the year and/or what different levels of giving will provide.
- Create a holiday giving guide that highlights all of the ways that donors can give, including Amazon Smile, Amazon list, peer-to-peer fundraising, employer matches, resident sponsorships, employer match, stock gifts, naming opportunities, planned gifts, monthly giving, and any other way they can support.
- Engage your board in creative fundraising. Ask them for help with connections, peer-to-peer fundraising, and thank-a-thons
- Update staff email signatures to include year-end language.
- Have a debrief meeting in the new year to talk about your year-end fundraising. Discuss what worked, what didn’t, and takeaways to carry into next year’s year-end fundraising.
We hope this resource will help you bring in more much-needed funds so you can continue your critical work and increase your impact for farmed animals. Happy fundraising!
State Fundraising Registration Requirements For Nonproft Animal Organizations In The United States | The Open Sanctuary Project
Effective Website Elements For Your Animal Sanctuary | The Open Sanctuary Project