Is it Already Too Late for Year-End Fundraising?
For most nonprofits, the mere mention of a year-end campaign usually triggers a fundraising version of PTSD – their eyes glaze over, dreading memories of panic attacks, sleepless nights, missed deadlines, and endless hours of revisions to copy and graphics. The only way to avoid that situation is to plan early and delegate!
1. August: Start Planning!
I know what you’re saying – Do I really need to start planning for end-of-year in August? Yes! Effective end-of-year campaigns take research, planning, a lot of effort, and most of all…time!
Planning starts with:
- Staffing: Who on staff, or which research-based fundraising agency, will be executing your multi-phased year-end online and offline appeals?
- Messaging & Branding: Campaign messaging, branding, and consistency are extremely important since you’re competing with every nonprofit in the country for donations.
- House File: How will you segment your lists? Do you need to increase your house file? What is your cultivation strategy?
- Scheduling: Determine direct-mail drop dates, dates of events, and corresponding email and landing page updates.
- Multi-Channel Approach: What are the most relevant online and offline channels for your organization (eg. Facebook, email, direct mail)?
2. September: Capture Donor Commitment
This is the time to start a stewardship campaign reminding constituents how they are connected to your mission and the value of your cause. This approach will prime them for your holiday campaigns and re-connect you with your donors.
If you don’t have a big base of donors, now is the time to have your research-based fundraising agency execute an acquisition campaign or purchase a trusted list.
3. October: Finalize!
- Designs & Programs: Proof copy and design, and confirm your giving-program availability and benefits (memberships, matching gifts).
- Vendors: You’ll need to start getting direct-mail creative to your printer now, as printers will be increasingly busy during this month.
- Vacations & Matching Gifts: This is also a great time to finalize your organization’s vacation schedule, and reach out to board members and corporate partners for possible matching gift campaigns.
4. November: Go Go Go!
This is the official kick off of the end-of-year campaign! Now is your organizations time to shine. Impress your constituents with your expertly designed and written direct mail, emails and stewardship pieces!
- Turn on your donation forms. Run Google ads to begin driving traffic to your donation forms. Remember: SEO is important!
- Send a “thank you” message to your donors and recap the year’s accomplishments. Be prepared to start asking for donations immediately following Thanksgiving to capitalize on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday, as donors already have their wallets out!
5. November to December (Busy time!)
This is when the majority of your outbound communication will happen using one or more of the following approaches:
- Gift of Giving: Target those who are last-minute givers and shoppers. Provide them with options to give a gift on behalf of their friends and family, send an e-card, or adopt a cause.
- Time-Based: Focus on an amount to reach by year end and focus on what you will accomplish with their donation in January. This type of campaign is used to prepare donors to stick with your cause for the upcoming year. Start this early in November with a final push on the 30th to capture last-minute gifts.
- Tax Incentives: The key focus is to get to those people who aren’t as interested in helping a cause, but rather helping themselves. Online is the best channel for this type of campaign, and I wouldn’t recommend sending this until after Christmas Day.
6. January: Analyze Results, Celebrate Success, and Start Planning!
- Results: Take a look back at what worked and what didn’t. Make a special note of things that were affected by the “lack of time” factor, and build in time for next year’s campaign.
- Celebrate Success: Summarize the success of your year and thank the donors for being engaged. Show progress on your cause.
- Start Planning: It’s never too early to start planning for year-end campaigns. The easiest time to start basic planning is right after the year-end push has ended. That way, when you revisit your plans in August, you already have a framework to start from.
The timeline is provided by Achieve, the nationally known research and creative strategy division of Forte Interactive. Achieve based this timeline on years of fundraising research and successful year-end campaigns they have executed for clients across the nation.[box icon=”exclamation-sign” style=”solid”]
After August and Running Out Of Time?
Don’t panic! Forte Interactive’s Achieve division has a number of campaign packages to help your cause succeed this year, no matter when you start.
Call us at 561-833-4040 ext 1 or use the form below to see how we can put together an effective, research-backed campaign that will lead to year-end success.
As the Chief Operating Officer of Forte Interactive, Slade leads marketing, operations, human resources, and product development, while overseeing a staff of Millennial employees.
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