The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

The Secret Sauce of Record-Breaking Year-End Campaigns

Come in close and listen hard. This is a secret I don’t want to broadcast to the entire world.

The secret sauce to ensuring year-end campaign success that I’ve seen work time and time again is this year-end checklist. Year-end campaign creation and management is a busy, often overwhelming process fraught with anxiety. This checklist is the best antidote I know, and it doubles as a surefire tool to propel you to your year-end victory lap.

Pinpoint Where You Are Right Now

Roll up your sleeves and take a long, hard look at this year’s fundraising results to date, both quantitative and qualitative. Note: If you have no idea what your results are, designing ways to measure success is a must for 2015.

Assess results against your benchmarks.

Review year-to-date results, and compare them to your benchmarks to see what’s working as hoped and what’s not.

This is easier with hard numbers, like those associated with online petition signing or registration, online giving, or other actions that you can directly track to their source. More challenging, but equally important, is drawing insight from quantitative information such as client, volunteer, or donor feedback and stories from the field.

Identify meaningful trends:

  • Which matches are working? Which target audience is responding to what campaigns, channels, and messages?
  • Who else should you be in touch with? Have any surprise visitors—groups you didn’t expect to engage with your organization—surfaced this year?
  • Who fell off your radar that you need to rekindle the relationship with before it’s too late? Who was a loyal supporter in previous years but has been significantly less responsive this year?

Outline Your Plan

Every connection you squeeze into 2014 allows you to deepen the relationship just a little more! So clarify your goal, think through what will be top of mind for these folks, and start reaching out right now.

Do more of what has worked best to engage your most loyal supporters while you have their attention.

Your trends analysis will also highlight the channels and messages that hit a positive nerve with each audience group. These are the ones you’ll want to replicate in the remaining weeks of this year. Use that info to shape some year-end-specific messages.

Go beyond online channels to share those messages. Although email is a timely and relatively low-cost format for targeted campaigns, print and social media campaigns can be great complements if resources allow. There is still time to get another postcard out the door, if it makes sense.

Ramp Up

Line up your team and budget.

Although the stats indicate that year-end is a productive fundraising time, you’ll have to work better and harder than ever from the get-go to generate gifts, because all fundraisers are onto the same stats.

Spend a few minutes with colleagues in your organization, ideally one-on-one, to ask for their help and to thank them for their help in making marketing a success (even if their role is very indirect).

Then, get your website, donation processing, and colleagues ready to respond.

Make sure your site features:

  • Recent stories about programs, including some programs introduced pre-2014 (to connect those folks who haven’t checked in much this year).
  • A big donate button on every page, with a “phone in your gift” number.
  • A recently tested online giving process.
  • Consistent messages and look-and-feel across your entire site, including the donation page. Avoid confusing donors; make it easy for them to feel confident in giving by making your donation process match the rest of your materials.

Prep your team to:

  • Be confident in sharing year-end messages.
  • Be ready for a flood of requests for help and info, especially in December.
  • Immediately share important feedback they receive on any component of last-minute marketing so you can correct the course if necessary.

Go!

Like most tasks, implementing your year-end campaign is a lot easier (and will be so much more successful) when based on a research-based plan. Don’t skip that step.

Write right.

Make sure your tone is personal and your call to action clear and easy to act on. Consider these five steps to a successful year-end email campaign.

This last recommendation is so important. If you skip it, you’ll risk undermining campaign success. If you do it, you’ll do great. Get on it!

That’s my year-end campaign secret sauce. What can you add? Share your tried and true practices in the comments below!

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

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

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