Bringing CCF to your Donor Communications

November has arrived, and with it, an increasing flurry of communications ranging from political ads to door-busting holiday sales to year-end giving requests. If you are anything like me, if opening social media apps or checking my inbox didn’t already feel daunting, this avalanche of communication makes me want to leave my devices with my seven-year old (who learns through destruction). 

Even if our message is meaningful and brilliant, how can we ensure that we will connect with our key audiences, especially during peak fundraising season? Our friends at NeonOne report that a third of nonprofit organizations raise between 28-50 percent of their revenue in the last months of the calendar year. And one third of annual gifts are made in December. If these data points weren’t clear enough, NeonOne also tells us that two-thirds of these donors do not conduct their own research before making a gift; rather, they rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. So, how can we get through all the noise and distraction, especially when our year-end strategies are already in mid-execution?

Last month, I authored this piece for the Community-Centric Fundraising Hub to continue the conversation on how we invite and include our donors and funders into a movement oriented around social justice and racial equity. Being a part of a movement means that we cast a wide net and that everyone – EVERYONE – both stands to benefit and has a role in advancing change. Here are some questions and suggestions you can ask yourself as you implement and augment your year-end marketing and communications strategy:

Is your subject line worth forwarding?

If our potential and returning donors rely on recommendations from trusted family and friends, our messages must be worth sharing. A notable subject line won’t just improve open rates, but your readers may be amused or inspired enough to share with prospective supporters in their network. 

What is your donor learning?

Community-Centric Fundraising isn’t a transaction or practice; it is a movement that seeks to shift systems… This means, we can’t be status quo in our year-end appeals. Are you offering your donors content beyond asks, inspiring stories, or more asks? What do they need to know about the bigger picture of your cause? Where could they get involved through volunteer, organization, or advocacy, that will have a longer term impact on your organization’s mission and vision? 

How are we sharing stories of our community?

Remember: the stories of those we serve are sacred and deserve to be shared in a way that honors their experience. Earlier this year, Nonprofit Marketing Guide shared our blog Does Your Organization’s Storytelling Perpetuate Harm?. Check it out for some timely reminders and boundaries. 

What partners or complimentary causes are we amplifying?

Community-Centric Fundraising encourages us to see the bigger picture, which means our organization’s success is intertwined with the success of other organizations and causes. Are you releasing your scarcity mindset and encouraging your supporters to engage with parallel causes? Lead by example and show your donors what an abundance mindset could look like; everyone benefits when we encourage generosity. 

How does gratitude show up?

We do a lot of asking in a lot of different ways throughout the year-end push. How are we expressing our gratitude for the ways in which our donors, funders, volunteers, and other stakeholders organize their resources in service of our organization? A single email, tweet, or viral Tik Tok dance is not going to cut it. Think of the most meaningful “thank you” you’ve received. What made it so?

Let these considerations give your organization’s voice a tone and message that separates its mission and message from all the year-end noise. And, make sure to take what worked (and learn from what didn’t work) into a year of messaging and marketing impact. 

Wishing you well in this season of gratitude. 


 Rachel D’Souza-Siebert is the Founder + Chief Purpose Officer of Gladiator Consulting and a Founding Member of the CCF Global Council. In 2015, Rachel founded Gladiator Consulting, a boutique consultancy with a holistic approach to nonprofit organizational development. Through Gladiator, Rachel has combined her knowledge of Organizational Culture & Fund Development with her deep personal commitment to centering community, seeking justice and creating belonging for those who have been disenfranchised or targeted by institutions, systems and policy.