Christmas carols in July? Please, no.

Building snowmen instead of sand castles at the beach? Nah.

Wooly sweaters at the swimming hole? Absolutely not.

The cold, short days of winter seem far away, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about year-end during the summer months.

Fundraisers are like people in the fashion industry. We have to think a season ahead.

That’s because a majority of the revenue that is raised online – typically around 60% — is raised in that glorious month of December. Year-end starts now because how you treat your donors and prospects throughout the year is what adds up to big results when they are “seasonally” primed to give in December.

Here are four things to focus on now:

(1) No donor has ever stopped giving because they were thanked too much.

Add four additional thank you messages to your schedule from now through December. Make sure the acknowledgements feel like a big hug, not a receipt. Thank you copy is fun to write. It should come from a real person and reflect the tone of your organization. Make your gratitude sparkle.

(2) Email still does the lion share of online fundraising… It’s not dead.

In order to maximize hot prospects, try to convert your Facebook followers to email leads now.

National Audubon Society discovered that half of their Facebook followers weren’t on their email list. In order to convert followers to email subscribers, we developed added value, gated content (that required an email address to access it) that we promoted via social channels.

This content included:

  • Tips on how to bring birds to your backyard
  • Bird photography 101 lessons
  • DIY project instructions like “making your own bird feeder”

We converted a high percentage of followers to email leads, and they gave at much higher rates than other warm prospects during year-end.

(3) Test your donation forms.

December is the time of year when you’ll have the most traffic to your forms. You want to make sure you’ve got the most optimized version ready and launched.

  • Launch A/B tests starting now. If you have significant traffic, launch A/B tests of your form. Test layout (Horizontal vs. Vertical), photos, donation buttons, gift strings, etc…
  • If you don’t have enough traffic to generate significant results, do some simple user testing. Choose three different folks in your life who do not frequently go to your website. Make sure they represent different age demographics.Give them your credit card and ask them to make a gift to your organization. Have them open the browser and find your site on their own. Watch where they click. See what slows them down. See what hurdles they encounter. Doing this will surface 80% of usability issues. Fix them.

(4) Listen to your donors.

Summer is a perfect time to launch a messaging survey to find out what issues your organization works on that donors find most compelling. Behind each email address is a real person, with real opinions.

Ask your donors questions like:

  • How persuasive is each of the following messages as a reason to support the organization? [List out several case for giving statements you have.]
  • Compared with other organizations you support, where would you say [organization] ranks for you as a funding priority? Is it one of your 2 or 3 top funding priorities? In the top third of your priority list? Somewhere in the middle? Or just one of many?
  • What do you personally like best about [organization]? Open end.
  • If you could personally change one thing about [organization], what would it be? Open end

It may be warm outside, but it’s never too early to get ready for year-end. Check these to-do’s off your list now and you’ll be sitting pretty come December.