Fueled by the holiday giving spirit and the impending tax calendar deadline, donors are ready to make their year-end donations during the month of December. It’s an important fundraising opportunity for many nonprofits with over 1/3 of all annual donations being made during this month. To make the most of this fundraising opportunity, your nonprofit needs to prepare now. It might seem like it’s too soon to talk about year-end, but when it comes to your most important campaign of the year, it’s never too early.
To help you jumpstart your planning, here’s your five-step plan to prepare for year-end fundraising.
Step 1: Decide What You’re Raising Money For
The cornerstone of a successful year-end campaign is knowing what you are raising money for and why. It could be a specific program or project, or even general operating funds. Identifying this is essential as it’s information your donors want to know. More specifically, donors want to understand how their donation will make an impact. Get clear on this in the early stages of your campaign so that you can write great copy and tell an excellent story.
Step 2: Set a Clear Fundraising Goal
How will you know if your year-end campaign is successful? You need to define what “success” is for your campaign. This doesn’t have to be a number that you share externally (although it can motivate donors, especially when your goal is within reach). However, internally, you need to be able to evaluate the success of your campaign and having a goal in mind will help you do that.
Be sure to set a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART).
Step 3: Create a Fundraising Calendar
One of the best ways to get organized for year-end fundraising is to create a fundraising calendar. This clearly lays out when you will be sending asks and other communications to your donors. Be sure to include any channels that you plan to use like direct mail solicitations, email appeals, telephone fundraising, and so on. On your calendar, note the date that the solicitation will be sent to your donors and include any notes about segmentation.
Using Network for Good’s donor management system, you can quickly and confidently target the right donor segments. You can also download our Donor Segmentation Cheat Sheet to help you get started with segmentation.
Step 4: Create a Cultivation and Stewardship Plan
Fundraising is so much more than the ask. It’s also cultivation and stewardship. Any successful year-end campaign finds ways to effectively and creatively incorporate these components.
For cultivation, think about what your nonprofit can do to build relationships with donors in the weeks leading up to the asks. This could include sending them newsletters, information updates, stories, and more.
For stewardship, it’s important that you know exactly how you’ll thank donors once they have made their gift. For instance, how soon after their gift will you send them an acknowledgement letter? Will you make a personal thank you phone call? Pick one or two key stewardship activities to continue the relationship-building process so that you can retain your donors. For more on stewardship techniques that build donor relationships, check out this article.
Step 5: Execute Your Plan
Planning is, of course, a big part of a successful year-end campaign. But so is executing your plan. Beat procrastination and stay on top of your tasks. Not only will this give you greater ability to be agile with your plan, but it will also help you have a less stressful campaign.
Pro-tip: set a weekly check-in meeting with yourself (or your team) to talk about your year-end campaign. As little as 15 minutes can help you review your progress and set your next action items.
With a solid goal and great planning, you can make the most of this fundraising opportunity and finish 2018 strong.