The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

How to Have Your Best December Ever with Year-End Fundraising

December Fundraising Planning

Are you ready for year-end fundraising?

Really ready?

I’m going to gently put this out there: we have just 95 days left in 2015. If you don’t have your plan locked down for December, it’s time to get ready to close out the year with a successful campaign.

At Network for Good, we see nearly a third of annual giving happen in December, and in 2014, 12% of the year’s donation dollars came in during the last three days of the year. So December and those last few days are still a big deal to most nonprofits.

Generous Procrastinators and December Giving

How do you make the most of these generous procrastinators? Take these important steps now to ensure bigger and better year-end fundraising results.

Get Your Data in Order

From reviewing your response rates to identifying trends within different donor groups, take a hard look at your results from the year and understand what’s working and what’s not. Revisit last year’s December giving patterns. Which messages performed best? Which segments of your list gave more?

Spend time analyzing your data so you can build on what works for your audience, and make improvements on the rest. Note: If you find yourself poring over spreadsheets and email chains to pull out this information, do yourself a favor and get a donor management system that will make your life easier and improve your fundraising strategy. Having this piece in place now will mean that all of the new information you’ll collect this December will be at the ready.

Create Your Plan Now

Proper planning now will pay off when December arrives. Having a solid fundraising and marketing plan in place will help you stay organized and true to your goals. If you don’t yet have a plan in place, try our fundraising plan template that should make pulling this together with a snap.

Your year-end plan should include your goals and tactics, as well as specific information such as your messages, donor segments, and promotion plan. Create a simple communications calendar to organize and plot your outreach for the next few months, then decide how much you’ll invest in other promotions to attract new donors, such as media outreach, Google AdWords, and social advertising. Our next free webinar with John Haydon will show you the ins and outs of using Facebook advertising for your December campaigns.

Zero in on Your Message

What is the story you will tell to inspire donors to give? What will be the impact of a gift? Now is the time to pull together your most compelling stories to support your campaign and craft your appeals. Remember to incorporate photos, videos, and testimonials to bring your work to life and help potential donors understand how they can make a difference.

Your year-end appeals should include an emotional hook, a clear story, a strong call to action, a sense of urgency, and outline what a donor’s gift can do. An effective appeal takes time to write. Start drafting these messages now so you can write different versions of your communications for your key audiences. Learn how to tell an emotionally compelling story that gets donors to give, then download our guide to creating amazing year-end appeals.

Optimize Your Giving Experience

One of the best investments of your time this fall will be to walk through your giving experience and ensure that your donors can learn about your organization and donate quickly and easily.

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 your other efforts 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. Need some help optimizing your online donation page? We have a step-by-step guide just for you.

Try a P2P Campaign for #GivingTuesday

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a big #GivingTuesday groupie. I love the excitement and momentum it brings to the start of the giving season. One way to incorporate this event into your overall December plan is to try a peer fundraising campaign for your #GivingTuesday outreach. This will help differentiate your campaign from other organizations, expand your reach, and will help you engage your supporters in a different way than you might during those last few weeks of December when you’ll be focused on direct appeals. Check out our quick guide to #GivingTuesday and then download our Peer Fundraising Campaign Planner template to create a winning strategy.

While you’re at it, be sure to sign up for Network for Good’s weekly #GivingTuesday email that includes tips for how to make the most of this big giving day and what you can do to carry that energy through the whole month of December.

Focus on Retention

To really make your efforts in December pay off in the long run, you need to go into your final campaigns with an eye on how you plan to keep the donors you’re working so hard to convert. This year, let’s all pledge to spend just as much time (if not more) thinking about our retention plan for year-end donors as we spend thinking about the acquisition. Invest your energy in creating a donor stewardship plan and getting real about your approach to donor relations. A great retention plan starts with understanding how to thank your year-end donors properly. Learn the secrets to an amazing acknowledgment (with a template to get you started) in our guide to donor thank yous.

Year-end fundraising can feel like a lot to handle but remember: you’re not alone. Focus on the tips above and the resources I’ve shared to keep you on track. If you need some advice on the right tools to make your job easier this December, reach out to our team to get a personal demo of Network for Good’s fundraising software.

Build donor relationships and raise more this year with our simple, smart fundraising software.

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About This Blog

Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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