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For community radio, this time of year is a perfect moment to tap into that giving spirit to help your work.

Many community radio stations saw success on Giving Tuesday, the day following Black Friday and Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving. If you’re involved with one of those stations, congratulations. Your thank you notes and emails should already be out the door by now. If not, consider doing so. This is a smart idea, no matter the time of year, for fostering trust with first-time givers. You can show how much you appreciate them with a thank you, and encourage them to deepen their relationship with your station.

Your year-end giving may be influenced by many factors. First and foremost is your own efforts to generate support during this period. Are you on social media with your appeal? Can you make videos that represent to your community the real-world impact you have locally? How is your year-end giving page and language special? 2018 has been a raucous year; what has your station meant to donors this year, and how can they help you make their 2019 even more informed, entertaining and invigorating?

Changes by way of Washington, DC may affect your work this time around. In 2018, Congress doubled the standard deduction, which means fewer Americans may have the financial incentive to give as they did in the past. New limits on deducting state and local income taxes and property taxes may also have impact here too. Some projections suggest donations this year could dip by $20 billion. Such gloomy projections have not slowed down nonprofits, though.

There is still time to do excellent fundraising, but now is the time to put a plan into action. A few insights to help you get started:

  • Anyone on your team unsure this year-end business helps? From one study of nonprofit organizations, “28 percent said that they raised between 26 and 50 percent of their total annual income from the year-end ask alone.” This, and many more statistics on year-end fundraising come courtesy of Nonprofit Hub.
  • NFCB’s Solution Center offers many fundraising resources for member stations, including 2018 year-end social media graphics. You can access the Solution Center here if you’re a member.
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy suggests nine ways to reap year-end rewards. Promoting matching gifts and digital holiday cards are among your tools. Recognition before the ask also matters. “In an experiment with one nonprofit, the researchers found that annual donors who received a thank-you message one month before a gift request gave around $45 more on average, which represented a 67 percent increase compared with those who were not thanked first.”
  • Classy collects case studies of nonprofit year-end messages. They include one that pitches monthly/sustaining gifts as part of year-end to make bigger projects possible; a ‘fundraising catalog’ where levels ‘buy’ particular efforts for the nonprofit and a year-end giving website within a nonprofit’s website. The big takeaway? Be creative and tell your story.
  • Don’t overlook the data you already have on hand to get insights on your ask. That’s advice from GuideStar, which presents ten recommendations for nonprofits doing year-end campaigns. “The beauty of your nonprofit data is that it can tell you everything you need to know to make the rest of the year a success. If you want to choose a story that is going to get the most results for your nonprofit, for example, you can look at your monthly donation amounts and align those campaign records to see which one brought in the most money. Or look at social media to see which posts get the most engagement, and build your story with more of that in the mix. You can then use these specific campaign messages or programs to advise your end-of-year campaign, one that uses data and proven results to build momentum for your organization.”
  • A well-written and targeted email or letter can help your donations soar. Communications that focus on impact of a donor’s gift and the difference s/he makes can be powerful. A few examples of donor-focused messaging include ‘thanks to your generous gift of $250 last year, 5 underprivileged children received school supplies” and “because of your ongoing financial support, we’ve raised $100,000 for families in need.”
  • Curious about fundraising via text message. Researchers say text subscribers to organization’s contact lists are more likely to give. “The key to a successful multi-channel fundraising campaign is creating a cohesive story across your different marketing messages. Text messaging can help you tie your narrative together by reaching your supporters at exactly the right moment.”

Polls say public trust in nonprofits is waning, but community radio — as a valued local media source with connections to divergent subcultures in town — could be situated to buck the trend. You’re invited to NFCB’s 2019 national conference to learn more about effective fundraising, community engagement, illuminating content tips and more. We hope to see you in San Diego.

This article appeared in a recent NFCB monthly newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

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