How to Inflation-Proof Your Year-End Story

Written by Focus Consultant, Leila Fitzpatrick, Principal, Inkwise

September 21, 2022

As fundraisers, we’ve glided from one pivot to the next over the last couple of years, mapping and re-mapping our strategies. Whether hosting virtual galas or deploying TikTok campaigns, we’re forever seeking fresh ways to engage, steward, and love our donors. And, as we breathe in the first bursts of crisp, fall air, we know the year-end season is upon us. How are you gearing up to launch your big EOY campaign and crafting your story so it resonates in the context of 2022?

Inflation Proof Your Campaigns

If your org, like nearly half of nonprofits around the country, receives the bulk of its annual donations in Q4, your story is fundamental to your EOY success. And, this year, the amped up cost of living, not to mention the turbulent economy, is no joke. Inflation is the elephant in the room, making it critical that you tell a story that sizzles. How are you adapting your story to grab donors’ attention and meet donors them they are?

Your donors aren’t immune to soaring interest rates, sky-high inflation, and the threats of recession—but neither is your nonprofit. Persistent economic uncertainty has lots of experts predicting a decline in charitable giving for this year. But, while recognizing that the economic storm clouds may dampen year-end results, keep in mind that inflation doesn’t just impact donors. Inflation also affects your nonprofit and the people you serve. So, it’s critical that you adapt your story and your strategy (along with your expectations). What story will illustrate how the current economic climate affects your beneficiaries and how your donors’ support can help?

Donor Retention Should Be a Top Priority

Ultimately, your goal is to keep your donors engaged and elicit contributions. EOY is a key moment to leverage your communications to build relationships. What about your story will resonate with your donors? How does your year-end story connect the dots in a meaningful way? Are you framing your work within the big picture (whether that means current events or other relevant context)? Does your story tug heartstrings in a way that will captivate your donors and compel action? What will make your appeal rise above the fray? 

Tell a story that offers your donors a path to live out their values.

A good story remains the key to your donor’s heart. Remind your donors why your mission matters to them and illustrate their role in realizing your shared vision for the future. Humanize the reason your organization exists by highlighting one person, one family, or one community to tug heartstrings. Emphasize the impact of current circumstances (whether that’s inflation or something else) to demonstrate urgency. Make your donor (not your organization!) the hero. And, show them how their gift matters. Ultimately, whether you’re curbing climate change, delivering meals to seniors, or shaping legislation, your appeal is an invitation offering your donors a chance to change someone’s life and be part of something bigger than themselves.

Evaluate your ask amounts.

Another thing about inflation is that your dollar won’t go as far. Despite record charitable giving in 2020 and 2021, once last year’s giving totals were adjusted for inflation, we actually saw a dip at the end of last year. According to Giving USA 2022, nonprofits raised $484.85 billion in 2021—4% more than in 2020. But amped up costs across the board make the dollar amount equivalent to .7% less now than 9 months ago. The bottom line is that even if you raise the same amount you did last year, the totals aren’t equivalent. This is really important. But, remember that, ultimately, the goal is donor retention.

But before you cave to the temptation to increase your ask amounts, be realistic about what that could mean. Upping your ask amounts at a time when your donors may feel stretched already could be risky. Instead, think about how to tailor gift amounts, along with specific stories, to segmented lists. Consider ways to segment specific groups of donors with tailored asks, like increasing the frequency of recurring gifts or applying a corporate match. (Read more on segmenting in our previous post.)

Incorporate multiple giving channels into your campaign.

Make sure your messaging lifts up the variety of ways people can make a gift. You might call out monthly giving options, secure that match to double down on impact, encourage peer-to-peer campaigns, or test a channel you haven’t tried before. Whatever tactics you plan to use, weave consistent language into your messaging across platforms.

Last but not least, donor love never gets old. Have you ever felt over-appreciated? Not likely. Give thanks. Show gratitude. And mean it! We all love to feel loved.

We’d love to hear what you’re doing to shape your end-of-year story this year. Let us know what you’re doing differently and what you’re keeping the same. And, if you want to brainstorm about your year-end story or chat strategy, reach out

Inflation proof your fundraising and development plan with tips from Fundraising consultants, Focus Fundraising.
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