Top Tips for End of Year Fundraising Success
by Daniella Dowiak, Account Manager, Cathexis Partners
& Christina Relacion, Account Manager, Cathexis Partners
Summer is just now officially coming to an end, and we’re already talking about end of year fundraising? You bet! End of year is one of the most active fundraising seasons, and it takes planning and effort to make the most of it.
But don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with some of our top tips for end of year fundraising:
Start early. Gear up for end of year fundraising now, with your communications starting as early as October. Mapping out a plan for the entire last quarter of the calendar will ensure you get your key messaging across. For example, create an engagement campaign in October that allows constituents to feel connected, but doesn’t ask them for money. Then November brings Thanksgiving, which is a great time to let constituents know that you’re thankful for them because they’ve helped you to accomplish X, Y, and Z throughout the year (this is a great time to provide a summary of the year’s accomplishments). This tees you up well for Giving Tuesday at the end of November. Then, flow right into your December end of year plan.
Map out your plan. Thinking through each aspect of your end of year fundraising ― from your communications channels and messages to the overall donor experience ― can ensure your campaign’s success. Let’s break it into steps:
- Create a “skeleton” communications plan and calendar for the entire last quarter of the year. This should include all your emails and direct mail to your various audiences as well as all social media posts ― even those that aren’t part of your end of year fundraising campaign ― so you know who will be receiving what communication and when.
- List out your end of year fundraising emails and make note of the purpose of each: Is it an engagement email? Informational? An ask?
- As you brainstorm, you’ll probably start to get ideas of what you could include in each email. Make note of these things as they come to you.
- Begin to record what other components you’ll need to create. This might include new email headers, surveys, graphics, and landing pages.
- Share your plan with stakeholders in your organization, get feedback, and start building your campaign. Be sure to include anyone in your organization who you will need to support the campaign, such as a copywriter, graphic designer, or someone to test and send your emails and post your social media messages.
Create unique content. Once your plan is in place, it’s time to build content. Remember that the end of year season is a busy time for fundraising and holiday activities, and your messages will need to stand out from all of those other things competing for your audience’s attention. A couple of considerations:
- Being unique doesn’t necessarily mean you have come up with an elaborate campaign. It just means that you should focus on and clearly explain why your organization is special. For example, what do you do to help people that other organizations don’t do?
- Twenty-one percent of donations online are made on a mobile device, according to the 2017 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report. Be sure to include responsive/mobile design in your emails and landing pages to make your audience’s online experience easy, quick, and seamless no matter what device they’re using.
Get personal. Don’t blanket everyone with the same message. For example, if you’re looking to convert supporters to first-time donors, send them a different message than people who are already giving to your organization. Let them know how their gift helps make a difference for your mission.
Remember the recurring gifts factor. Your end of year campaign is a great opportunity to increase the number of donors who give on a monthly basis. One idea: boost the appeal of making an ongoing gift by offering a special perk, such as a free t-shirt or a 2019 calendar, that’s for your monthly donors only.
Keep it going. Once the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Day, your end of year strategy isn’t over. Remember to follow up with supporters to thank them and let them know how they are helping to shape the next year for your organization and your mission!
Don’t panic. If you get a late start on end of year fundraising, read 7 Tips for Last-Minute End of Year Fundraising for some quick and easy ways to end your year on a fundraising high note.
Need more help with your end of year fundraising? We’re here for you! Contact Cathexis Partners.
Daniella has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 8 years. With a deep understanding of nonprofits’ limited resources, she is passionate about helping organizations get the most out of their technology.
Christina has more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing, website editing, video production, and social media. Before joining Cathexis Partners, she served as Communications Manager at the Scleroderma Foundation’s national office.