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7 Last-Minute Tips for a Successful Year-End Campaign

The days are quickly slipping by, rushing us toward December 31. If your to-do list has had you occupied with other priorities and the end of the year has caught you by surprise, it’s not too late to get started on your year-end fundraising. Follow these seven tips for a successful year-end campaign, even if you’ve procrastinated or had other demands on your plate.

1) Set a Goal to Challenge and Motivate You

If your team is feeling daunted by planning and running a campaign in such a short amount of time, they’re going to need an energy boost. A specific, achievable (yet challenging) goal is a great way to provide you and your team with a firm target. With focus and the dedication you’re known for, you know you can succeed. Have your team think through what reaching the goal would mean for your programs and mission. What would happen if you were able to achieve the goal? Visualizing the why behind the goal will provide motivation.

To make a big goal less daunting, create a projected timeline with smaller milestones along the way. You may also want to create a giving pyramid that breaks down a large monetary goal into smaller gift amounts and the number of donors needed at each level. As the campaign rolls along, send out progress updates to staff working on the campaign to keep them informed.

Tip for Speedy Execution: Set aside one hour of uninterrupted time with your team. Brainstorm goals for 15 minutes, then decide which goal you’ll choose. How much do you want to raise with your year-end campaign? Do you want to set goals for number of new donors or recurring donors? For the next 20 minutes, create your timeline with intermediate milestones. Finally, spend 15 minutes determining your target number of donors at various gift amounts. Wrap up by agreeing on assignments and sharing a few motivational words. Then get rolling!

2) Segment Your Audience

Your donors probably don’t fall into one completely homogenous group. Different projects resonate with different donors, and each donor has unique giving preferences. To make your year-end campaign more successful, segment your donor database by individual interests or prior giving levels. Use the information you’ve collected in your fundraising software to create targeted direct mail and email communications that are personalized and tailored to each donor group. Sending out several versions of campaign emails may yield better results than just blanketing your entire mailing list with exactly the same message.

Tip for Speedy Execution: Good fundraising software like Network for Good’s will allow you to segment your audience in minutes. Filter your donors into various groups: major donors, mid-level, specific programs, monthly donors, etc.  If you don’t have fundraising software, yet and are buried in spreadsheets, now’s the time to upgrade and make your year-end campaign a smooth success.

3) Pick a Theme

Choosing a central theme helps you to focus and create more effective messaging around your year-end campaign. Your theme may center on an upcoming project, a new program, a matching gift, #GivingTuesday, or any number of other ideas. Be creative and let your imagination lead the way.

Having a unifying theme makes it easier for your donors to make a connection to your organization and your work. It will provide them with a clear reason to get out their credit card or checkbook to donate.

Tip for Speedy Execution: Schedule a 30-minute meeting with your team. Have everyone brainstorm themes in advance and present their ideas. Spend 15 minutes discussing ideas, finalize your choice, and then spend the final 15 minutes outlining your plan.

4) Strategically Choose Your Communications Channels

All communications channels are not created equal. Depending on a variety of factors, different donor groups may prefer different methods of receiving campaign communications. Choose your channels based on the preferences of your donors. From direct mail to email to social media and text messaging, the methods of connecting with those who support your mission is almost endless. Consider these popular channels:

  • Direct mail
  • Email blasts
  • Email signature line for staff
  • Website
  • Online giving page
  • Thank you page that appears after online donation
  • Thank you email
  • Social media
  • Facebook cover image and your logo in the profile picture
  • Twitter background and your logo
  • Instagram

Tip for Speedy Execution: Quickly search your donor data to find out what channels are most popular with your donors. With Network for Good’s fundraising software, you can track donor communication preferences and view how previous campaigns have performed to know what methods are most attractive to your donors. It only takes a few minutes to create your lists for each target channels.

5) Make It Personal

People connect with people, not data. The more personal you can make your campaign, the more attractive it will be for donors to engage. Share exactly who will be helped by the campaign. Include photos, quotes, and impact stories of those in your community. While facts and figures are certainly useful, faces bring statistics to life. Sprinkle photos, quotes, and stories throughout your emails, social media posts, mailings, and on your online giving page.

Tip for Speedy Execution: Gather any existing quotes, photos, and stories that you already have, rather than taking time to set up photo shoots or write new stories. No need to recreate the wheel. Use what you know works!

6) Use Visuals

A picture really is worth a thousand words. Crafting an engaging written message is essential; but photos, videos, illustrations, and graphics enhance the power of your message and make it more memorable and shareable. When donors engage with your campaign materials, make sure the good you’re doing (and inviting them to join) is on full display in a visual medium. After all, seeing is believing.

Tip for Speedy Execution: Again, make use of what you already have. Repurpose as much as possible. You can also use tools like Canva to create graphics quickly or hire designers on Upwork to quickly craft graphics for you. (Be sure to search graphic designers by rating to make sure you choose one that can stick to due dates!)

7) Create a Sense of Urgency

Your year-end campaign will have stiff competition for your donors’ attention. Holiday shopping, preparations for travel or visits from family, and an assortment of other obligations present a formidable distraction to giving—not to mention donation requests from other nonprofits. By adding a sense of urgency to your message, you increase the likelihood that your supporters will take a break from the hustle and bustle to give.

Tip for Speedy Execution: When writing your appeal, focus on the one urgent factor that naturally correlates with your theme. For example, a matching gift campaign could focus on the urgency of the expiration deadline, while a project-based campaign could focus on the urgency of the community’s need.

If November snuck up on you, don’t worry. There’s still time to create and execute an effective year-end campaign! Set a goal that’s both achievable and highly aligned to your organization’s mission. Carefully select your audience and the means of delivering your campaign. A specific, timely message paired with compelling visuals will help you end the year strong; providing your organization with the resources you need to move forward into 2019.

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