Pumpkin spice lattes are back and we’ve been experiencing cool, fall-like mornings here in Washington, DC, two signs that year-end fundraising season is almost here. It’s tempting to put off your planning for a few more weeks, but don’t give in to procrastination. Proper planning now is like insurance for a strong fundraising finish in 2013. Take a moment this week to assess your progress toward your year-end campaign plans. Here are five ways to make sure you’re ready:
1) Review your results.
Figure out what’s working for your nonprofit–and what’s not. Take a close look at response rates from this year, and revisit last year’s December giving patterns. Which messages performed best? Which groups gave more? Spend time analyzing your data so you can build on what works for your audience, and make improvements on the rest.
2) Set a goal.
Decide what you’re trying to accomplish this year. Be specific and make sure everyone in your organization is on board. Post your goal in a prominent place to help keep everyone moving in the same direction. Remember, for goals to be useful, they must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Check out these tips for setting a fundraising goal.
3) Create a plan.
As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” There are a lot of pieces that go into a fundraising campaign, and you’ll be more successful with a detailed marketing plan that includes a timeline, budget, and assigned responsibilities for each action item. Network for Good just published a new nonprofit marketing guide that will help you organize your outreach strategy and clarify your message.
4) Craft your key messages.
More than any other time of year, your giving season fundraising appeals will need to stand out and inspire. You can’t wait until the last minute and hope a well-written, effective message will come to you in a dream. Begin mapping out your messages now and refine your story, calls to action, and images. There’s still time to collect testimonials and success stories that will illustrate your impact and prompt donors to give. (Need help making the case for giving? We have a step-by-step guide to crafting a compelling appeal.)
5) Test your process.
Now is the time to put yourself in your donor’s shoes and thoroughly test your donation process, website, emails, and any other donor-facing elements. Identify any pain points and fix them now while you have some time. None of the above steps will matter if your supporters get hung up on your donation page, are stymied by your website, or can’t reach a real person when they attempt to contact you. A few hours of user testing now will save you a lot of time—and lost donations—come December.
I’d love to hear where are you in your year-end fundraising planning process. Share your progress in the comments!