Preparing for year-end giving is not unlike unpacking the menorah and tinsel a bit early for holidays in July. (That’s still a thing, right?) Almost one third of annual giving occurs in December, so whether you’re bringing out the holiday spirit in warm weather or not, strategizing for year-end giving should not be a last-minute sprint. Large, established nonprofits typically begin preparations in July and August, while smaller, more nimble organizations may begin in September and October.
Get Disciplined with Planning
Preparation is the secret to a fruitful fundraising campaign. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: work together with your team to plan ahead! Sit down with your team to reflect on last year’s performance and then define your goals, roles and responsibilities. This is a crucial step and most effective when done early. The more you do up front, the less you’ll be scrambling to pull together when December arrives.
Work through some of the following logistics to assemble a well-rounded, omni-channel fundraising campaign. Once you assess your results from previous years, use them as the driving force to grow your campaign for 2019.
1. Outline your objectives – what do you wish to gain?
- What’s your message? Consider highlighting a compelling story that demonstrates the work your nonprofit fuels. Leverage visual storytelling and words from your community of supporters.
- What’s the theme of your campaign?
- What does success look like for your nonprofit? How can campaigns from previous years help you prepare for 2019?
2. Determine your SMART fundraising goal – we go into greater detail and cover all things goal-based fundraising here.
3. Establish your toolkit ahead of time. Determine which of the following tactics you wish to employ to maximize giving.
- Do you have a generous donor or partner poised for a matching challenge?
- Consider kicking off your year-end campaign with a #GivingTuesday campaign – we walk through what that looks like here.
- Target monthly donors to upgrade their gifts with personalized messaging
- Determine which channels you wish to maximize by evaluating where the majority of your supporters engage and what budget exists for this campaign – whether paid social, text messaging, email appeals, or direct mail.
4. Determine roles and responsibilities amongst your team so when it comes time to press go, no one should have any questions around who is responsible for specific outcomes.
5. Develop your communications goals – how and when do you want to get the word out? Download our brass tacks communications template to help organize your efforts.
Prepare for Launch
Once you’ve outlined what you want your year-end campaign to look and feel like, it’s time to prepare the campaign. Planning and preparing may sound like the same thing, but both are important and worth the time and energy. Planning helps build an organizational structure that sets your campaign up for success, whereas preparation boils down to the specifics that will drive your campaign – mainly fine-tuning all creative assets from landing pages to email copy to infographics.
1. Fine-tune your messaging – communicate the theme clearly across channels and demonstrate impact whenever possible.
- Tweak your email appeals. At the very minimum, plan to send out at least four emails over the course of December. Ideally, these are tailored to key segments of supporters, such as monthly donors, those who’ve made multiple gifts within the last year, mid-level donors, etc. Ask early and often, and communicate through stories.
- Segmentation is key! Deliver relevant information to your supporters. There’s no such thing as “one message fits all.” While it may save time, you’ll see fewer conversions if you choose to send one broad message to your entire donor file.
- Communicate your SMART fundraising goal in terms of impact. Highlighting your work in terms of children served, homes built, or animals rescued helps donors to see how far their money can go in terms of your overall goal.
2. Develop your graphics and visual storytelling assets ahead of time. Like your messaging, the design for your year-end campaign should be consistent across the board. Schedule or automate your content delivery where possible so when it comes time to launch, you won’t have to scramble. However, be prepared to deviate from the original plan if a particular tactic or channel is outperforming the others.
3. Capitalize on the last few days of December. While one third of annual giving occurs in December, 11% of annual giving occurs in the last three days alone – so make them count! This is not a time to be bashful – make the ask! Towards the end of your campaign, daily communication is a must. Don’t be afraid to get in front of your supporters to close the deal.
Launch and Learn
If you’ve taken the time to properly plan and prepare your campaign, launching the campaign *should* feel easy breezy, unless this is your first year-end giving derby. Triple check your tactics and segmentation, copy-edit or die, and keep a close eye on your key performance indicators so you can adjust fire where you’re seeing the most success.
After the year-end blitz is complete, schedule an after action report meeting with your colleagues immediately after the New Year break, so the experience is still fresh and you can facilitate a discussion around the results, successes, and areas for improvement. Document these learnings and this document will be gold when preparing for your 2020 year-end appeal.
Need some strategic or tactical support on your year-end fundraising campaign? Let us help.