3 Keys to Closing Out 2021 on a Strong Note

RKD’s David Miller has good news for animal welfare fundraisers as we approach year’s end, and shares 3 action steps for a successful season of generosity.

The leaves are turning, the air is getting crisper, and we’re all moving at lightning speed during this important season for animal welfare organizations.

Yes, I’m talking about year end. These next few months are a critical fundraising period when most animal welfare organizations are raising the majority of their fiscal year revenue.

While I wish I could say this period will be relatively peaceful, the unfortunate truth is that many nonprofit organizations are still feeling ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic that started what feels like a lifetime ago. The virus is still spreading, events are still getting canceled, and now the world is facing a global supply chain crisis.

But I’m not one to dwell on the negative. Yes, these are all important factors to consider as you prep for year end, but there are many positives as well.

Just looking at the data from 86 of RKD Group’s animal welfare clients for the first half of 2021, there are many highlights that encourage me as we head into this season. Here are just a few:

  • Revenue is up year over year. Since 2017, January to June revenue has grown 21.3%. Even more impressively, revenue is up 6.4% for the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. 
  • Active donors continue to grow. In the first half of 2020, we saw active donor counts grow by 8% year over year. During that same period in 2021, active donor counts were up another 2.2%.
  • Average gift size is up. Finally, average gift size is also up 2.2% when compared to the same period in 2020.

I could go on about the positive results we’ve seen in the first half of the year, but these three alone tell me one thing: Despite the COVID bump felt during 2020, animal welfare organizations are still seeing growth well into 2021. 

How can you keep the momentum going? Keeping these results in mind, there are three main areas of focus that should be a part of your year-end strategies to ensure success. 

Prioritize stewardship strategies

Animal welfare donors are loyal—but you shouldn’t take that for granted. For the last two years, your donors have answered your calls in incredible ways. But if we’ve learned one thing, it’s that donors expect to be thanked.

And as your file continues to grow, having a strong stewardship strategy in place is what will keep them around for years to come. 

Focus on mid-level and major donors

Reaching out to mid-level and major donors is one of the easiest and most effective ways to combat any lingering effects of the pandemic. My colleague and donor engagement expert Karla Baldelli always says mid-level and major donors like to feel like superheroes. Give them a “villain” to fight and empower them to defeat it, and your mid-level and major donors will swoop in to save the day. 

Create an omnichannel communication plan

We’ve always stressed the importance of omnichannel communication, but it’s even more critical now. 

There’s a lot of noise during year end, with many nonprofits competing for those final gifts of the year. The more channels on which a donor comes across your cause, the more likely they’ll remember you when the time comes to make their donation. 

Year end has always been a season of generosity for animal welfare organizations, and I don’t expect that to change. Stay the course, reinforce these best practices, continue to communicate your need to donors, and your organization will have another successful year end to add to the books.

More from RKD

4 Simple Stewardship Practices
Stewardship: Breaking Free from the Ask-and-Repeat Model
One Small Change That Can Have a Major Impact on Digital Revenue

Photo: Jesse Gardner on Unsplash


David Miller is Senior Vice President at RKD Group, a leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. He brings more than two decades of animal welfare experience to help organizations craft their fundraising strategies for success. Prior to joining RKD in 2011, David spent 14 years working at animal welfare organizations, including serving as the CEO of three organizations in Florida and North Carolina.


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