Take the #FundraisingChallenge!
52 simple weekly actions for better fundraising results
At Network for Good, we help thousands of nonprofits boost fundraising results, save time, and advance their missions. This year, we’ve set out to make fundraising even easier.
Dozens of Network for Good staff members and Personal Fundraising Coaches shared their favorite fundraising “quick wins” – simple actions that every nonprofit can take to get organized, streamline processes, try new things, and ultimately have their best year ever!
Are you up for the challenge?
To join in, click here to download the .ics file and import it into your calendar, or bookmark this page to follow along. We can’t wait to see your success!
Fundraising Challenge Calendar Overview
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Week 1: Review last year’s progress.
Review last year’s progress. Create a report of your year-over-year total revenue, total donors, new donors, recurring donors, lapsed donors, and/or event return on investment. Set this year’s goals for each area and plan to track your progress at least quarterly.
Week 2: Resolve donation duplicates in your Fundraising Software.
Resolve donor or donation duplicates in your fundraising software, spreadsheet, or however you track your donations. This should be an ongoing process, but focus this week on straightening out your year-end donation data. Cleaning your data can help you quickly identify new prospects that are best suited for a gift upgrade or invitation to a monthly donor.
Week 3: Fill out your calendar.
Envision your best year yet! Fill out your calendar. Whether you use Google, Outlook, or a paper calendar, write down your broad fundraising plan for the year. Be sure to plan key activities around vacations, programmatic events, and potential busy times for the organization.
Pro tip: circulate a list with key dates to your Board in draft form EARLY. Catching a potential scheduling conflict that could prevent members from attending an important event will prevent countless headaches down the road.
Week 4: Learn something new.
Attend a webinar on a fundraising tactic you want to learn this year. Network for Good has a ton — hear from experts on marketing-inspired fundraising tactics, converting your social media followers to donors, how to upgrade mid-level donors to major donors, and more. Think through how to put your learnings into action.
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Week 5: Perform an audit of your social media profiles.
Do a deep dive through your social media profiles. What kind of posts do your followers engage with the most? Plan to post more of that content this year. Make sure your social media bios link directly to your fundraising page.
Week 6: Send Valentines to your donors and volunteers.
Distribute some donor love. This is a great opportunity to build relationships without an ask! You can send an eCard, a handwritten note, or an email, but make it personal!
Week 7: Create a social media plan for the year.
Working with your marketing team, if you have one, map out the timing of your campaigns and events on a communications calendar. Think about what channels you’ll want to post on, how frequently you should post, and your goals.
Week 8: Perform an audience analysis.
Learning more about your donor base is important to developing messaging that resonates. Who are your donors? How do they typically find out about your organization? Sometimes the easiest way to do so is to simply ask. Create a quick survey to find out: How do they like to consume content? Through email, direct mail, social media? This information will help you reach new donors, connect with your existing supporters, and share your message more effectively.
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Week 9: Gather inspiration for your next event.
See what your peers are doing – ask your staff and people you know about events they’ve attended. Read advice from other nonprofit professionals in Network for Good’s Nonprofits Unleashed Facebook group. Brainstorm ways to make your event more exciting and successful.
Week 10: Collect two recent testimonials and pictures to use in your spring appeal.
If you can, capture a video testimonial as well – your supporters will appreciate seeing the impact of their donations through a heartfelt video.
Week 11: Build a marketing plan for your spring appeal.
Get your whole team involved. Assign responsibilities and deadlines. Your goal is to spread your message far and wide, so take advantage of all of your opportunities, including direct mail, email, social media, text messages, video, and a web banner on your homepage. Fun fact – nonprofits that use more than two channels in a campaign raise more funds from more donors AND retain those donors longer. THINK BIG to discover how a little extra effort can result in a lot of extra support!
Week 12: Consolidate your lists of volunteers and event attendees.
Develop a system to put all names gathered at events and volunteer opportunities into your Donor Management System immediately after the event. Then don’t forget to follow up with them quickly! Timing is everything, so keep this follow-up simple. Upload photos from the event to a shared drive, triple check to remove any photos that are not flattering to attendees, circulate a thank you email with a link to the photo folder, and ask attendees to share photos from the event with a fun hashtag (#besteventever).
Pro tip: draft the thank-you email in your Donor Management System today, fill in the blanks later. Your future self will thank you.
Week 13: Develop group volunteer activities.
Identify 3 new high-impact “turnkey” volunteer opportunities for groups of 10 or more. Make sure your website prominently features all available opportunities available.
Pro tip: if you are actively seeking volunteers, create a social media post with a picture of current volunteers and caption it with an explanation of why they volunteer regularly.
Bonus tip: during your next volunteer event, capture 1-3 minutes of footage with testimonials, if possible, to illustrate how much fun it is to help.
March 30- April 2
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Week 14: Get on the agenda for your nonprofit’s next board meeting.
This week, think about how you can strengthen your relationship with your organization’s board members. At the next board meeting, talk to them about fundraising – your challenges, your opportunities, and how they can help you.
Week 15: Develop a donor survey.
Ask your donors how they found out about your organization, what inspired them to give, and any demographic details that would be useful for future communications.
Week 16: Connect with a donor.
Invite a current or former donor to coffee to learn their story. What attracted them to your organization? What encouraged them to give? What could you do to make them feel more connected to your cause?
Week 17: Revamp your thank-you template.
Refresh your acknowledgement templates so that anyone who donates more than once in the same year receives a different thank you message.
April 27 – May 1
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Week 18: Segment your donors.
This week, make sure all your donor groups are appropriately segmented in your Donor Management System. Set goals for each segment and create messaging for each to help get them to that goal. For example, create a fun invitation to send to all one-time donors celebrating the benefits of recurring giving. Consider developing a more targeted, urgent appeal for lapsed donors.
Week 19: Test new tactics on your donation forms.
While fundraising experts haven’t yet reached an agreement on how you should order suggested donation amounts on your forms, we like ordering them from highest to lowest. This week, try ordering your donation amount options starting with the highest. In a month, check back to determine what kind of impact the change made.
Week 20: Make sure your existing email templates look great.
Review the emails in your Donor Management System. Look for typos, out-of-date statistics, broken links, and old visuals.
Week 21: Tell people how to get in touch with you.
Make sure your website mentions how to get in touch to discuss planned giving and other major gift opportunities.
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Week 22: Send a text message to your donors.
For a low-risk way to test this communication method, you can send messages only to your most engaged donors (they won’t be annoyed by the outreach) or your lapsed donors (text messages are great at grabbing attention).
Week 23: Discover new technologies.
Investigate technologies to solve your biggest problems (donor engagement, fundraising software, donor management, event ticketing, auction, etc). New products designed to help save time and improve the donor experience are released every day. Ask your peers for suggestions, sign up for a demo, and make a plan to talk to your board about your need for new technology.
Week 24: Send an acknowledgement message that your donors will love.
Send a video acknowledgment to your recent donors. Our customers using this tool have so much fun creating meaningful, personalized thank-you videos. And the positive feedback from their donors has been overwhelming!
Week 25: Test the donor experience on mobile.
Visit your homepage, click through different pages, visit your donation page, and fill out a form. It should be simple! Make sure the buttons are large enough and the donation form appears at the top of the page without scrolling.
Week 26: Check up on your board’s fundraising progress.
Did 100% of your board donate to your organization last year? What % has donated so far this year? Gently remind your board members how important 100% participation is for all aspects of your work, but especially fundraising.
Pro tip: start from a place of positivity. Recognize the amount board members already contributed or celebrate the fact that you reached 100% by (date) in the previous year. Focus on how every contribution advances your mission. Include an opportunity for members who may not be able to give to contact you or the Chair for alternative arrangements.
June 29 – July 3
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Week 27: Let people opt-in to hear from you.
Put a “subscribe” link in your staff’s email signature, on your website, and on your social media channels. Give people to ability to hear from you, even if they can’t donate right now.
Pro tip: Develop a really exciting “Welcome Email” for your new subscribers.
Week 28: Set your volunteers and peer-to-peer fundraisers up for success.
Create a toolkit to provide sample language, images, and talking points for your volunteer fundraisers. They are representing your organization, so you’ll want to control the message they’re sending.
Week 29: Review your budget.
Are you on track? Can you earmark some extra funds to test/learn new fundraising tactics before you move into year-end planning?
Week 30: Take a video!
Record a video tour of your office or site for use in appeals and social media. Any recent smartphone will be able to capture a short, high-quality video. Just remember to take a horizontal video!
Pro tip: working with a camera-shy audience? Circulate three questions before filming day: one fun and two serious. This can help calm nerves and prevent a paparazzi-like feel to the day.
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Week 31: Get out of the office and compare notes.
Time to break out of your bubble as you gather ideas for year-end. Attend a larger or more established organization’s event or invite a fellow fundraiser to breakfast.
Week 32: Automate the collection of impact stories.
Create a form for your program staff to share stories of impact with your fundraising department. Teach your staff how to use the form and regularly remind them until it is baked into their process. As soon as you receive a strong example, get permission to use it in your appeals!
Week 33: Learn something new for year-end.
Get your team together and listen to a webinar on fundraising fundamentals or new tactics. Make a plan to test something new this year-end.
Week 34: Review your email appeals from the last year.
What subject lines worked best? Which links prompted more opens/clicks? Understanding what works will help as you plan for your year-end campaign to kick off later this fall.
Week 35: Review the visuals/stats on your website.
Make sure your statistics are consistent and up to date. Delete anything that is old or repetitive. You want to share your most recent examples of impact, but not overwhelm people with information!
August 31- September 4
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Week 36: Gather stories for your end of year appeals.
Time to gather impact stories for year-end! Find 2-4 stories of impact, with pictures, videos (if you can), and quotes.
Week 37: Set goals for year-end.
If you already have fundraising goals given to you, these can be micro-goals: number of appeals sent, number of social media posts, giving Tuesday goals, or number of donor acknowledgements posted on social.
Week 38: Write your year-end social media appeals.
Craft some year-end posts for all your channels. Put them in a document so you can copy-paste or schedule them to go out throughout the last 2-3 months of the year.
Week 39: Start looking for a matched donation.
Do you have a major donor who would be willing to contribute a matched gift this year-end? If so, you will want to line up the matched gift(s)—you can have multiple donors contributing towards a bulk matched gift—by early November.
September 28 – October 2
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Week 40: Test your donate button on your website.
Reduce the number of clicks it takes to go from your homepage to directly making a gift. It should be literally one click away!
Week 41: Put your recurring donation option front and center.
Make sure recurring giving is turned on all donation pages. Set “monthly” frequency as the default option.
Week 42: Get your board ready to help with donor acknowledgements.
Begin pulling lists of donors that your board members can call to thank in November. Boards typically love this one-on-one interaction with donors (and they don’t have to ask for money!).
Week 43: Check that your donation button is extremely visible.
Make sure your donation button is clearly visible on your homepage with prominent branding. Put the donate button in the header of your site so it appears on all pages.
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Week 44: Figure out a process to send thank yous quickly.
Some people do this once a week; we recommend sending acknowledgements at least twice a week. Have a person assigned to this and a backup during vacations, etc.
Week 45: Revamp your thank-you template (again).
Update your standard acknowledgement gift template with new examples of impact.
Week 46: Keep an eye out for great appeals.
Develop an “ideas folder” to capture what other nonprofits do well that you want to use as inspiration in the future. Save emails, screenshots, etc. You’ll be able to draw from these ideas when creating future appeals.
Week 47: Shout out to your donors on social media!
Post stories on social media that focus on donor appreciation. Profile donor stories and give shout outs to new donors (both with the donor’s permission).
Week 48: Put a year-end thank you message on your site.
Design a simple web banner thanking your donors and volunteers for your homepage. Note the impact their generosity makes.
November 30 – December 4
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Week 49: Turn your staff’s out-of-office messages into year-end appeals.
Your standard out-of-office message is a missed opportunity to educate and inspire your contacts. Use these tips to spread the word on the amazing work your nonprofit is doing, even when you’re not in the office. Once you’ve crafted an out-of-office appeal, distribute it to your staff for their use this year-end.
Week 50: Take care of yourself.
Don’t neglect your mental health during this busy, stressful time. Get away from your desk when possible this week – even for a short 15-minute walk.
Week 51: Send a year-end text appeal.
Your donors may be out of the office and away from their computers this week, but they’re probably still near their phones! Send a year-end appeal through a text message. Remember to make it personal, short, and link to your mobile-friendly donation form.
Week 52: Send a final year-end email appeal.
December 31st is still the biggest giving day of the year, yet 48% of nonprofits don’t send an email appeal on that day. Maximize your year-end results by tapping into last-minute generosity.
December 28 – January 1