5 of the Best Ways to Make Your Holiday Donor Outreach Magical This Year

Halloween sneaks up to scare us this Saturday, the 31st. This year, the spooky day also signals a different vibe to the upcoming holiday season.

You may have noticed it: An earlier, crowd-reducing start to the shopping season as retailers roll out deals before Halloween, and announcements of Thanksgiving Day closures so employees (and shoppers) can be home with their families—and shop online.

Similar to the retail world, nonprofits gear up for the holiday season. We have to. Thirty percent of all annual giving occurs in December with 10% of that total happening within the last three days of the year, according to Nonprofits Source.

Summoning the holiday spirit, nonprofits should look forward to another generous holiday giving season. (We must believe!) Our outreach will be key, however, especially since most of it will be done virtually.

5 Tips for Donor Outreach This Holiday Season

1. Talk about giving using possibility, not scarcity, language.

Possibility language starts from gratitude and grows outward to the people and places we love. Across all touchpoints—social, print and digital—share the possibilities (a.k.a. positives) of donors’ support. Even if our worlds seem small right now, possibility language opens donors to feeling grateful and appreciating the abundance of the good that we have around us.

Scarcity language, however, forces us more toward self-preservation, feeling scared, a “what-if?!” or the sky-is-falling attitude. As a result, we want to keep what we have to ourselves and our families.

In The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship With Money & Life, author Lynne Twist shares the difference between the language of scarcity and that of sufficiency, or possibility.

Language of Scarcity:

  • Never enough
  • Fear
  • Competition
  • Fragmentation
  • Busy
  • Survival
  • Outer riches

Language of Sufficiency (or possibility):

  • Gratitude
  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Commitment
  • Partnership
  • Responsibility
  • Inner riches

TRANSLATE TO PLANNED GIVING: “Outer riches” vs. “inner riches” is a compelling concept that ties nicely into the holiday spirit of philanthropic giving.

2. Focus on easy-to-understand gifts.

Like a parent who’s putting together a holiday toy with six pages of easy-to-assemble instructions, prospects can get overwhelmed with lengthy planned gift explanations. They take the joy out of making the gift. Refrain from the immediate overshare; don’t get bogged down on gift details at this point.

Instead, focus on the gift’s possibilities—the children who now have a place to go, the animals who receive life-saving care, the communities that are fed.

Future Gifts That Have Big “Presents”:

  • Gifts in a will (bequests)
  • Beneficiary designations (involving all or part of life insurance, IRA, etc.)
  • Gifts from a donor advised fund
  • Gifts from an IRA
  • Gifts of appreciated stock

NOTE: Donor advised funds continue to rise in popularity, with grants jumping up by 58% in March and April 2020, according to a Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative survey. Educate donors and prospects about the benefits of these funds in holiday giving materials.

3. Create a “Holiday Happiness” digital campaign.

Use calls to action that loop back to making a planned gift. Here’s a social example that might stir your creativity.

This makes us happy to hear at XYZ Nonprofit: “I do a lot of research on kindness, and it turns out people who help others end up feeling more connected and become happier,” Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor and author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, once said.

Many donors who have made a planned gift to XYZ Nonprofit tell us that nothing makes them happier than knowing that they have made a gift that supports our future work. Get in on the happiness by considering a planned gift; contact us to start the conversation.

TIE-IN: Offer a “Holiday Happies” giveaway every week from your gift, merchandise or apparel center to the first 25 positively happy comments. A special thank-you card or video greeting from program recipients works too.

4. Promote a tribute gift as a holiday gift.

We all have that hard-to-buy-for loved one. So do your donors and prospects. Not only does a tribute gift honor those who were loved by donors, but it also supports your nonprofit’s mission and enables donors to possibly receive personal financial benefits.

TIP: Reiterate to prospects that they don’t have to part with assets today with a planned gift. They can make the gift in their will or living trust, stating that a specific asset, certain dollar amount or percentage of their estate will go to your nonprofit after their passing.

5. Connect an experience to the gift.

Gifting experiences rather than tangible gifts has been on the rise since 2016. While this year that may shift to more traditional gift giving through the mail due to pandemic concerns, people still want to give gifts of great meaning. A planned gift not only symbolizes a current bond with your nonprofit, but it also marks the beginning of a new relationship for younger generations.

TIP: When we are able to meet in person again as groups, host a Family Day on your campus, or for a tour and lunch, so the whole family develops affinity for your nonprofit’s mission.

Want More Ideas?

Check out “10 Ways to Promote Planned Giving During the Holidays.”

How will you share the holiday giving spirit with donors and prospects this year? Any tips to promote planned gifts? Feel free to share your holiday “magical” thoughts in the comments below.

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