By Jennifer Liu-Cooper

End-of-Year Fundraising Campaigns are a Big Deal.

Nonprofits use End-of-Year fundraising campaigns to make a big push toward reaching their fundraising goals, raising their public profile, acquiring new donors, and staying engaged with loyal supporters.

*Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics [Updated for 2021], Double the Donation

8 Steps to Planning Your End-Of-Year Campaign

1. Start Planning NOW.

More than half of nonprofits start planning their end-of-year campaigns in October—since donors get so many End-of-Year appeals, think about how you can make your message stand out and how best to coordinate efforts across your organization.

2. Inventory Your Resources.

  • What’s your campaign budget?
  • Who’s on the campaign team?
  • Can your Board/Key Volunteers help?

3. Define Your Audience.

Know who you’re trying to reach so you can personalize messaging to large donors and other donor segments.

Create donor segments by dividing your donors into groups based on shared characteristics, such as ratings, giving histories, and other attributes found in your Constituent Relationship Management system or the results of a DonorSearch screening.

4. Have Your Tools Ready.

  • Make sure your online giving site is in good shape to take gifts.Make it sleek, fast, responsive, and trustworthy.
  • Decide on audience-appropriate communication channels.
  • Have personalized ‘thank you’ messages created ahead of time.
  • Assign each appeal message a distinct Call-to-Action (e.g., a hyperlink behind a GIVE NOW button)

5. Set SMART Goals.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Realistic, & Time-limited. In addition, they should include quantifiable elements like: 

  • # of Dollars raised
  • # Donors reached
  • # of Gifts received
  • # of new, returning, and repeating donors
  • # of responses received through each Call-to-Action

6. Set a Campaign Timeline.

Your campaign should last no longer than six weeks. You could begin your End-Of-Year fundraising season on GivingTuesday (November 30th), like many nonprofits. When you set the launch date, create a project plan with tasks, deliverables, and deadlines.  Then share it with your team and plan regular progress checks.

7. Develop Your End-Of-Year Campaign Theme and Messaging.

Theme: Tell a story that consistently frames your compelling needs (across all appeals) in a way that stirs emotions and inspires giving.

Messaging:  Keep them clear and brief—tell them how their support will make an impact and change lives.

  • Use the critical messaging ingredients:
    • Be donor-centric (how they can help)
    • Be human (tell a story)
    • Use visuals (photos, videos)
    • Suggest giving amounts
    • Have a CLEAR Call To Action
  • Send reminder messages, but don’t spam your donors.
    • Donors need a reminder to give throughout the campaign.  Use a call to action in each message, with a maximum of 5 messages per donor.
  • [Prompt] Thank Yous
    • Prompt ‘Thank Yous’ increase the odds of repeat giving by cultivating positive and long-lasting relationships with your donors.
  • Recognition
    • Publicly recognize your donors – on social media, on your web page, at events.

8. Prepare to Analyze and Evaluate After the Campaign.

  • Use your constituent relationship management system’s giving and donor data to assess the campaign against your SMART goals.
  • Evaluate each donor segment’s response level in each communication channel, looking at opens, clicks, call to action usage, etc.

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8 Steps to Planning Your End-Of-Year Campaign