Mike Spear and I talk about End of Year Giving, #GivingTuesday, and what you can do in January to steward your donors and cultivate them for bigger gifts.

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Centering on mission, vision, and impact

“The idea is you create a cycle of learning where you plan something, put it out there, engage donors with it, and then look at the results. And see how you can improve the next time around.” Click To Tweet

Nonprofits raise almost half of their annual budgets between October and December. So, no matter what kind of organization you have, you need to be doing something throughout the holiday season — and now is the time to strategize and activate plans. This is why I’ve called on area expert Mike Spear. We talk about End of Year Giving, #GivingTuesday, and what you can do in January to steward your donors and cultivate them for bigger gifts. 

With over 10 years in the social sector, Mike comes from a different background, and his ideas are reflective of a mindset that’s beyond traditional fundraising. He was a journalist and a filmmaker, before working in a little startup called Stay Classy Productions. Since then, it has evolved into Classy.org, a social enterprise that creates top-notch online fundraising software for nonprofits, modernizing the giving experience to accelerate social impact around the world. Mike Spear recently created Moonshot.co and the Cause & Purpose Podcast. Working directly with high-impact organizations ready to level up for major growth, he focuses on the “why” first, and then strategies for major impact from there. 

A Little Background: Fundraising from a Holistic View 

Stay Classy productions, a San Diego company that happened to be born while Anchorman was playing on TV, was founded by a group of friends trying to raise money for breast cancer research. After raising a couple of thousand dollars for the American Cancer Society during the first San Diego Stay Classy Pub Crawl, they noticed a loophole in the nonprofit world: 

The giving mechanisms during 2006-2007 were not appropriate for people of their generation. 

Eventually, such fundraising events transitioned into a platform for others to create the same level of impact. They took a user-centric and design-first approach to develop something that is more modern and geared towards a demographic that wants to give, but that does things differently. Building a for-profit social enterprise allowed Mike to develop a deep ingrained experience and knowledge base on crowd-sourced fundraising. 

End of Year Giving and #GivingTuesday

As the end of the year comes closer, the giving season comes as well, and it’s never too late to get started: as long as you do something to move the ball forward, you’ll be set towards the right path. Donors are people — they have lives outside of campaigns, phone calls and aspirations — so it’s important to treat them as such. End of Year Giving should be a lever to activate your entire donor database amidst the year-round fundraising strategy.

Start by planting the seeds of cultivation in October and November and launch on #GivingTuesday. #givingtuesday was created in order to associate a giving day during the season of  Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. It is a worldwide, web-activated day of gratitude and philanthropy. In 2019 #GivingTuesday raised $511 million online and $1.9 billion total! No matter what kind of organization you are or what type of fundraising strategy you have, you want to leverage it as a platform for communicating value and impact to your community — and hopefully raising support and funds. 

While listening to this conversation with Mike Spear, consider your current and aspirational donor base and communication methods. Get to know how they respond to which types of events and marketing campaigns. Revisit your ethos: filter everything through your mission, vision, values, and long-term goals. As long as you do things through that lens and activate your community – it’s hard to go wrong!

Key Takeaways: 

02:03 – Mike’s story and the story of his organization: How Classy compares to team fundraising and peer-to-peer models like those of legacy organizations.

13:55 – What is End of Year Giving, when does it start and what does it mean? —  Tips on how to implement a year-round fundraising strategy for the end-of-year giving season.

18:18 – Why Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday are huge opportunities for every fundraiser. Plus, how to segment or target donors during End of Year Giving.

34:45 – What’s the best way to start as a small and under-resourced nonprofit in the online fundraising world?

43:17 – Reporting strategies and doing surveys for your donors: how to build a 1-to-1 experience.

46:53 – Social media, texts, snail-mail, and online fundraising tools —  What’s the best way to engage your donors to maximize your ROI and conversion rates?

52:33 – Making the ask, having a menu of giving, and how to ask for the right amount of money, depending on the donor. 

58:59 – Best practices and strategies for End of Year Giving: Take some chances and look at your metrics.

01:00:42 – How Moonshot.co shepherds and guides purpose-driven organizations to get to the next level and make a deep impact in the world.

Connect with Mike

Connect with Mike through LinkedIn

Episode Resources

#GivingTuesday Toolkit and resources


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