Studies show that between 35 and 42 percent of online giving happens in November and December each year. Most traditions, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas Day, or Kwanzaa all include gift-giving, and many also emphasize kindness and charity at this time of year, which is great news for your year-end fundraiser.
So, if you want to capitalize on final quarter giving, treat your Year-End Campaigns with special care. To help you with this, let’s dive straight into how to most successfully plan your end-of-year fundraisers to make them as memorable and profitable as possible.
August – Start Planning Your Year-End Giving Campaigns
I know, it seems really early to start year-end planning in August, but just think about every department store you visit that is loaded with Christmas decorations at this time of year. People are thinking about the holidays as soon as summer is over. So, take advantage of this and start mapping out the basics early on.
Don’t worry if you didn’t start in August this year, but the earlier you start, the more successful your campaign will be. By starting in August, organizations can really work year-end planning strategies including:
- Asking crucial questions which will help you map out your fundraiser and understand what direction you will be taking. For example
- What goals are associated with your year-end campaign?
- Who are you planning to ask for donations? Who is your target audience?
- What channels are you going to implement to engage your audience and spread the word about your cause? Ideas include Emails, social media, direct emailing, holiday greeting cards.
- Are you planning to secure charity event sponsors? Who do you have in mind that aligns with your charity’s mission and values?
- Don’t go it alone! Assemble an event planning committee to handle the various planning tasks. Even if your organization is working with a professional nonprofit event planner, a committee is still needed to direct the planner’s activities. Determine your fundraising goals together and create a roadmap to get there. To get you started check out our Ultimate Guide to Event Planning for Nonprofits here.
- Make a master task list. Brainstorm every single thing that you need to do from proofreading emails to checking website links, to laying out sponsorship and donation letters.
- Review campaign communications from last year, both online and offline.
- Set your metrics and benchmarks so that you can track the progress of your fundraiser and compare them with previous charity campaigns you’ve completed. For example, average open email rates, click rates, and amount raised per email. Also, look at how much money was raised on certain dates in December during past events. This will provide you with some historical benchmarks which are sure to keep you on track and could even help you exceed your fundraising goals.
- Compile a list of contingency plans in the case of not being on track with essential benchmarks. Have a plan B, C, and D if necessary, so that you get back on track and make the most of your campaign. These may include going virtual or presenting a hybrid fundraising option this year.
- Build out your calendar by scheduling important dates, for example, Appeal dates, non-ask activities, stewardship touchpoints, and production dates (when your letters or emails need to be completed and sent).
September – Cultivate Supporter Relationships
Once you have the planning of your year-end fundraiser underway, it’s vital to start building rapport with your constituents and connecting them to your cause. Here are a few ideas on how:
- Engage your donors through reports, surveys, and appreciation letters. This is an essential step in order to hold on to their commitment before you begin the year-end appeal.
- Focus on defining your campaign message. It’s easy to get distracted with everything going on at this chaotic time but it’s essential to stay focused and on point with your campaign’s mission statement and fundraising goals.
- Make your donors familiar with the great things you’ve achieved during previous charity campaigns by sending out and posting stories about the impact you’ve made on the community and individuals.
- Check that your letters, posts, videos, and emails are concise and engaging; don’t waffle on as people will stop reading or watching! Also be consistent with your campaign reminders and messages, so that your donors won’t be left in the dark about any updates or changes to your fundraiser.
- Start speaking to donors about gift-matching to help reach your fundraising goals.
October – Create Hype On Social Media And Get Ready for Year-End Campaigns to Launch
So, you have contacted your donors and are fully focused on your campaign message. Now is the time to add a burst of energy to your fundraiser and create some hype on social media. This will help you engage supporters, spread awareness of your cause and encourage more people to get involved.
Here are a few ideas to consider when creating your social media campaign to generate as much interest as possible for your year-end fundraiser:
- Host a livestream. This allows you to engage with your supporters and show the human face of the story behind the cause you’re raising awareness for. Why not add live interviews and Q& A sessions with a panel, industry experts, your organization’s beneficiaries, or volunteers?
- Post videos and photos that are entertaining, creative, and genuine to your cause, to tap into the emotional and personal interests of your followers. Don’t forget to post the link to your fundraising website to boost the popularity and awareness of the event.
- Use Personal Stories and Highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This will offer interaction with your donors on a more personal level by creating appealing content about your fundraiser, its progress, and the story behind it by sharing posts. Communicate this with a variety of tweets, polls, questions, and donation stickers.
- Add gamification elements to your social media campaign to add a sense of healthy competition among your donors and increase the chance of giving.
Take a look at our Top Social Media Tips and Trends to get the most out of your Year-End fundraiser.
Don’t forget that October is the perfect month in your year-end fundraising calendar to also focus on finalizing schedules, copy and campaign details.
November – Kick-off Year-End Campaigns
November is when holiday year-end campaigns really kick off. Remember that Thanksgiving is an opportune moment to ask people to support a good cause, as it evokes many emotions rooted in kindness, gratitude, and appreciation. Focus on the topic of ‘Thankfulness’ in your campaign, as this is at the center of the holiday spirit. Let your supporters know that donating is a great means of showing gratitude, so it ties in perfectly with the holiday. Connect the theme of gratitude in your social media posts and correspondence to encourage maximum giving.
Don’t forget to:
- Send out an email blast of donation requests the week of Thanksgiving.
- Run Google ads and activate special donation forms the week before Thanksgiving.
- Remind your donors about how easy it is to donate to your cause, especially at such a busy time of year. Mobile giving options simplify the donation process and expand your donor’s reach, it’s a win-win. Knowing that making a donation is only a click away from a mobile device anywhere in the world, can have a huge impact on reaching your fundraising goals.
- Post ‘thank you’ messages to your supporters on social media on Thanksgiving to show your appreciation for their support. Recap the year’s accomplishments and include an emotionally resonating and memorable story about a benefactor of your charity.
- Prepare your donors for #GivingTuesday as it is often at the top of the list of popular digital fundraising campaigns to participate in during the holidays.
- Keep up with your social media campaign and focus on the theme of gratitude.
December – Keep Up The Momentum and Don’t Stop Asking
By December your aim is to create a sense of urgency in order to get a polite message across that it’s better to donate sooner rather than later. Remind your supporters that the New Year is just around the corner and be sure not to neglect the fact that December 31 is a tax deadline. This will make your Year-End appeal even stronger.
Consider these strategies to pull in more last-minute donors:
- Multiple messages have power. Use a variety of themes in your messages such as donations are tax-deductible, heartfelt stories, holiday traditions, and alternative giving such as Text-to-Donate.
- Amp up your social media strategies in order to generate more interest and any last-minute donors. By asking your current donors to share and reshare posts and links to your fundraising page, you could reach new supporters in the last hours of your campaign.
- Update your donors on the progress of your fundraising goals and how close you are to reaching them. This can encourage last-minute donations to achieve or even exceed your goals.
January – Analyze your Success
It’s essential to thank your donors immediately after your year-end fundraiser. Make sure to follow up with donors after completing your campaign, so that you retain a strong and trusting relationship with them.
Provide feedback about:
- Did you reach your fundraising goal?
- How much the fundraiser grossed.
- What impact the fundraiser will have on the community and individuals.
- Send photos and testimonials of the event and tag donors in photos on social media, commenting on how valuable their support was.
Ways to thank your donors:
- Create a personalized digital message or handwritten note with a selection of photos from your fundraiser.
- Send a customized thank you letter via post or email that shares how their donations will be used and the impact they have made. Attach photos and testimonials if appropriate.
- Make sure to only show gratitude and not ask for more support right away. Continuing to ask at this juncture is very likely too aggressive and could lead to donor attrition. You’ll have time to do this later.
- Send the letter within 48 hours after the charity event when possible, so the event is fresh in everyone’s minds.
As for your organization, it’s crucial to compile reports which show the results of your campaign. Collect data on the total number of donors, the amount raised, volunteers/fundraisers mobilized, and even the number of social shares. This information will be priceless when building your next campaign.
Top Ideas For Year-End Fundraising Campaigns
If you’re still stuck with deciding what year-end fundraising campaign you want to run with, why not check out our Holiday Fundraising Ideas and Best Year-End Fundraising Strategies and Ideas to get you started?
Conclusions on Successful Year-End Giving Campaigns
The most important thing to understand is that successful year-end campaigns are gradual and cumulative, not one-shot processes. Your results will reflect your preparation. Repetition is paramount in getting your message read and then acted upon during the busy holiday season.