Christmas in July

It’s been 106 degrees here in Austin for weeks, but at S+G headquarters, we’re dreaming of a snowy winter wonderland. Yes, that’s right, we’re all about Christmas in July. 

And sure, part of that is to counter the truly excessive heat (did you know that Mel Tormé wrote “The Christmas Song”—you know the one…”Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”—to cool himself off during a sweltering July?), but another part is that now is when we start prepping for Q4 fundraising. Yes, really. 

As we work with clients to set them up for a successful year-end, we’re sharing a few of our best “Christmas in July” tips with all of you! 

  • Get your lists in order. Want to talk to more people in Q4? Better start finding them now! (For inspiration, check out this great acquisition experiment from Next After and Save the Children!)
  • Communication calendars are your best friend. If you’re anything like us (or many of our clients), September through December is a crazy season. Events, reports, holidays, thankathons, vacations, and, oh yeah, probably a big campaign (with direct mail and everything)! How do you fit in all those competing priorities (and their many associated messages)? One word: smart calendaring. We’d love to help you build your strategy and create a comms calendar that works for you! 
  • Do your content audit now. What stories and stats do you have in your arsenal? And, just as importantly, what are you missing? How will you fill in the gaps—and how can you squeeze the most life out of what you already have? 
  • Remember the attitude of gratitude. As you prepare to make big asks at the end of the year, think about how you can celebrate and thank donors now. Deepening your relationship with some good, old-fashioned cultivation will help your campaign shine when it’s time to launch. 
  • Turn up those holiday tunes—and dream of cooler weather. Listen, we know it’s July. December seems miles away. But thinking ahead will set you up for success—and lessen the pressures of an inevitably stressful season. So join us as we crank some Mannheim Steamroller, pull out our calendars, and make plans to absolutely rock our Q4 fundraising. 

Want help with your own Q4 planning, strategy, or implementation (yes, we’ll happily write all of your communications for you!)? Get in touch! Or if you know a nonprofit that could use support in the back half of the year, let us know! We’d love to connect and help you bring your vision to life! 

Make the Most of Giving Tuesday

Make the Most of Giving Tuesday

Mark your calendars! Giving Tuesday, a day of global generosity held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, falls on November 30th this year! 

In its first year (2012), organizations collectively raised $10 million on Giving Tuesday—and the day’s impact has only grown since then. Now, it’s a key fundraiser on most nonprofit calendars, extending across social media platforms and into 75 countries. Last year, Giving Tuesday propelled 34.8 million people to donate $2.47 billion to U.S. nonprofits—a 29% increase in donations from 2019!

With over two months to spare, the time to prepare for Giving Tuesday is right now

Whether you’re a Giving Tuesday pro implementing a legacy program, trying to get a budding program off the ground, or looking to reach supporters in a brand new way, now’s the time to get started on a creative, holistic plan!  (Did you know that 82% of nonprofits report using Giving Tuesday to try something new? Even donors themselves use Giving Tuesday to interact with their favorite organizations in unique ways—35% of donors give time or goods in addition to financial support!)

If you’re ready to make this year’s Giving Tuesday the best (and most creative) yet, here are a few helpful tips.

Secure a matching gift for donations on Giving Tuesday

A matching gift is the perfect way to build momentum and interest in your campaign. Research has shown that donors are more likely to give when an organization is able to leverage a matching gift, and one-third of donors make larger gifts with the guarantee of a matching donation.

Usually, the most likely candidates to provide a matching gift are ones that are already close to your organization—so think about asking board members, major donors, or corporate sponsors who are already in your donor file. Who are people in those categories who have not yet made their donation this year? Could this be a unique way to activate them?

Approach the ask with confidence and gratitude. Come to your meeting with potential donors prepared: have a plan to market the match and share exactly what programs their match would support. Remember, a matching donation doubles their gift, too.

Create energy on Giving Tuesday. Use it as a day of celebration and excitement!

The end of the year is an exciting time for many organizations—and Giving Tuesday is no exception! Think of it as a celebration, and use it as a way to build excitement for giving during the remainder of the year. We all want to be part of a celebration, and that sentiment applies to your donors, too. Create a culture of excited giving by planning ahead and tailoring your asks to individual supporters.  

Giving Tuesday sets the tone for the remainder of your year’s giving; do your organization (and your donors!) a favor by entering the season with celebration!

Be ready to thank everyone who gave on Giving Tuesday

The most thoughtful thank yous are the ones you’re ready to make. We all know that thanking our supporters frequently and consistently is important. Gratitude for donors is a key indicator of how likely we are to retain them, and keeping your current donors is far more cost effective than finding new ones. Our tip: prepare your thank yous in advance. That way you can make those acknowledgments as unique as your donors, while ensuring the process is seamless by the time Giving Tuesday comes around. 

Feeling stuck in your typical thank you routine? Freshen up your plan with a few tips from us (think: handwritten notes, magnets, and more!).  

Have a plan to ask for another gift before the year ends

Giving Tuesday is just the beginning of the year’s busiest giving season and it’s in your best interest to view your Giving Tuesday plan holistically. How can this event prepare you for the remainder of your year-end asks? 53.8% of nonprofits begin planning their end-of-year campaigns in October, so make your Giving Tuesday and year-end plans work in tandem. Use this time to add momentum to your year-end campaign. 

(Need a jumpstart on planning your campaign communications? We’ve got you covered!)

Don’t forget: the two biggest giving days of the year fall after Giving Tuesday and 12% of the year’s total giving happens in the final three days of December

Evaluate your Giving Tuesday efforts quickly so that you can gain valuable information for the remainder of your year-end campaign. Did you find any new donors? Notice any unique giving patterns? Discover that one social media platform propelled more gifts than another? Take these insights into the remainder of your year-end campaign, and continue using the communication and marketing strategies that worked!

Your donors want to support your work. Follow the tips above and communicate the things that make your organization vital and unique. Celebrate your mission with your community on November 30th—and beyond! We’ll be cheering you on the whole way.

We’re thankful for routines

We’re thankful for routines

This week, we are thankful for…routines. Sometimes life can get out of control, and our built-in rhythms save our sanity.

Whether it’s waking up at the same time every morning or taking a walk every afternoon or keeping fixed office hours, our self-imposed guardrails give us space to focus and do what needs to be done.

They can be silly and small (like starting your day in the same chair with the same mug of coffee) or serious and significant (like dedicated family time that cannot be interrupted).

Either way, our routines ground us, give us structure, and make our lives infinitely more manageable.

Saying thanks never gets old and 4 other things you need to read this week

Saying thanks never gets old and 4 other things you need to read this week

This list originally appeared in +good — our weekly round-up of the articles, tools, books, videos, and stories we can’t stop talking about. If you aren’t already subscribed, sign up for free!

1. Saying 💬 thanks never gets old.

Being thanked is different from feeling thanked — and mastering the attitude of gratitude is what separates the good from the great when it comes to donor relations. Think your thanks need an upgrade? Don’t worry, we’ve got seven ways to express gratitude that will give your donors those fuzzy feelings. 

Easy ways to thank your donors. [Swell + Good]

2. Is your content 🕶️ on trend?

Wish you had unlimited time and money to jump on every single trend you see? Us too! But we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) to be picky about what we invest in. These tips from Contently help you navigate the trends of 2021 to decide which ones work best for your goals. 

Content marketing trends that matter most. [via Contently]

3. You read 📖 this, right? 

If you’re still reading, learn why others might have looked over these next few sentences. The Startup suggests that using subheaders could not only improve your SEO but hold onto your reader’s attention. When drafting the copy for your next fundraising campaign, follow their advice: Start with too many subheaders — then cut back. Your most important message should be the easiest to read.

We’re guessing you read this, too. [via Medium]

4. Are Facebook ads worth it?

What percentage of Americans log in to Facebook each day? If you guess was nearly three-quarters, you’re right — 68% of Americans look at the site on a daily basis. And if your audience is there, you should be there, too. Get started with Facebook Ads (or take your advertising to the next level) with these helpful hints. From detailing your Facebook ad budget to recommending the metrics to track, this guide does the research for you. 

Get into the ad business. [via Neil Patel]

5. Heat up your cold 🥶 subscribers.

Almost 20% of your average nonprofit’s donations come from email lists, so if your newsletters and campaign emails are feeling stale, it’s time to hit refresh. Learn best practices for scrubbing your subscriber list, discover the secrets of an effective email cadence (hint: you should send more frequently than you do), and receive a free license to break the email marketing rules your internship taught you. 

Mix up your email game. [via Marketing for the Modern Nonprofit]

This issue of +good was written and produced by Allison Kooser, Ian Haisley, Sydney Bartlett, Lindsey Lincoln, and Katie Powers.

We’re thankful for challenges that help us grow

We’re thankful for challenges that help us grow

This week, we are thankful for…challenges that help us grow. Listen. Some situations are just plain tough. We struggle and squirm and power through just as much as the next person. (This is rarely/never fun in the moment.) But recently, we’ve tried to take these rough patches as learning opportunities.
We want to come out the other side having learned something new. We want to emerge stronger and more resilient and more prepared for whatever comes next. So here’s to the challenges we’ve conquered and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.