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Last-minute tips to boost year-end gift catalog success

I’ve already debunked the myth that gift catalogs are a dying art. In fact, they’re a powerful tool to showcase the true meaning and essence of your cause. 

Unfortunately, a confluence of challenges in the fundraising landscape may be dragging your gift catalog results down as you approach year-end: 

  • Inflation is still stubbornly high, and its impact is felt even more by older donors on fixed incomes who are more likely to give through the mail. 
  • Competition is increasing as more for-profits mail catalogs and compete for consumer attention. 
  • Mail delays are still a factor, delaying traffic to online catalogs. 

Now, I don’t want to harp too much on the challenges—we’re all very aware of the impacts they are having on our programs. Instead, I’d like to offer a few additional strategies nonprofit organizations can easily implement to help boost gift catalog giving as we near Dec. 31. 

10 ways to boost last minute giving 

1. Personalized pushes based on historical giving 

Whether it’s targeted messages through email or media, or a personalized postcard through direct mail, send reminders to previous and multi-year catalog donors of what gift they purchased last year. The ask can be as simple as urging to give a similar gift or amount. 

2. Move up the launch of your gift catalog media 

If you’re saving the bulk of your gift catalog media for the last half of December, consider increasing a few more awareness and conversion touches to the schedule now.  This “both-and” strategy will keep the catalog top-of-mind today while also driving response throughout the holiday gift-giving season.  

3. Add buckslips to December direct mail thank you letters 

Production timelines might make it too challenging to add gift catalog post cards this late in the year, but consider buckslips in thank you letters as an additional way to drive giving. Highlight a match, gifts under $25 or promote a specific product like greeting cards. 

4. Test mobile SMS 

If you’re not using it already, test mobile SMS to drive traffic directly to your “all gifts” page or a specific product page.  

5. Leverage organic social 

Organic social should be a part of every integrated gift catalog strategy. It’s an easy and cost-effective tool to promote and push matches, products or last-minute giving reminders. 

6. Send last-minute emails 

Last-minute emails can be segmented by audience, like catalog-responsive and lapsed donors. Use messaging to drive urgency and promote quick and easy catalog giving.  

7. Use match funds toward specific products 

Matches to specific catalog products are always top performers, especially if a donor doesn’t know exactly which gift to purchase.  

8. Try printed cards or e-cards 

These can serve as great promotional pushes or ways to add a deadline for previous and multi-year gift catalog donors needing to purchase a last-minute gift.  

9. Add lower price items as “top-ups" at cart checkout 

Although they’re at a lower price point, top-up gifts at cart checkout are a fun and meaningful way to increase order volume and overall share-of-wallet. 

10. Have some fun with lead generation 

Who doesn’t love a quiz? Create a fun quiz to help donors find the best gift catalog product for them or their loved one. Plus, turning this into a lead generation opportunity will ensure you’re getting even more out of your efforts.  

Remember, gift catalogs aren’t cannibalizing revenue from your direct mail or digital programs—they’re an added (and impactful) layer on top of your overall direct response program. And, when done well, they can bring committed, mission-driven donors into your cause.  

If you’re looking for more ways  to improve your gift catalog check out these resources: 

Duke Smith

As Senior Vice President, Client Strategy, at RKD Group, Duke Smith brings philanthropic counsel to the charitable community throughout Canada, the United States and internationally. In his 25-year career, Duke has provided direct-marketing fundraising expertise for North America’s largest and most respected nonprofit organizations, including American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Canadian Red Cross, ChildFund International, Heart & Stroke, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Plan International Canada, Save the Children USA and Canada, World Vision Canada, UNHCR, UNICEF Canada, United Service Organizations (USO), and many others.

Duke has traveled to more than 40 developing countries to meet, film and photograph children and their families whose lives have been impacted by the organizations he has worked tirelessly to serve.

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