Ready, Set, End-of-Year Fundraise

As you sit by the pool and soak up the sun during a hot summer day, one thought should permeate your sunscreen-soaked head—planning your end-of-year fundraising campaign.

Well, maybe not. While you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice vacation time to plan your year-end giving plan (yet), it shouldn’t be far from your thoughts right now. We here at Nonprofit Hub have lots of tips for you when it comes to your year-end campaign. In fact, we dedicated the September/October edition of our magazine to it last year.

Here is some of our best advice to help you craft the perfect year-end ask for your nonprofit:

1. Don’t Make It Just About the End of the Year

Your end-of-year ask should not be restricted to a mailing or two in December. (After all, isn’t this why we’re writing about this in July?) The end-of-year ask should fit seamlessly with the rest of your campaigns and have the same look and message. The only difference should be the timing.

“The year-end is critical, but it’s really about the whole year. You need to have a comprehensive plan and multiple asks,” said Jerry Krueger, the vice president of branding/operations for Alpha Dog Marketing. “If all you have is the end-of-year ask, then you will struggle.”

2. Start Planning Now

It takes a lot of planning and work to do a year-end ask right. You’ll need to craft your message (Why should they give to you? It’s not just about a tax deduction.), set up landing pages and go through your mailing lists to make sure they are up-to-date. It takes time to plan a campaign and this can all sneak up on you.

“Best in class do a direct mail piece followed by telephone solicitation,” donor communications expert Tom Ahern said. “Now that means you have to mail the piece far enough in advance so that you can get most of your returns back, which is three or four weeks to get most of the gifts back.”

3. Once the Plan is in Place, Implement

Write your fundraising letters now. Begin engaging your constituents and get them excited for the end-of-year campaign. Also, don’t forget to incorporate your social media into the plans to make this campaign big-time.

4. Don’t Fret When Time Gets Tight

After all the effort you put in to perfect a plan and execute it well, you can still do more to make the end-of-year campaign a bigger success. Even midway through December you can still do little things to help boost your donations. This could be a simple item like sending out a reminder or making sure your donation form is still functioning properly. You can also make phone calls to your corporate partner who hasn’t donated in the last year.

5. Be Thankful

Showing gratitude to your donors is just as important as the ask you make. If they feel appreciated and like their donation made a difference, they will be more likely to donate again in the future. The most straightforward way is to send handwritten notecards, but don’t just stop there. Make a phone call, invite them to an appreciation party (which doesn’t include another ask) or create a video to thank them. Don’t limit your creativity to just planning the campaign. Let it carry over to showing gratitude.

Using those five tips (and the others in the linked articles) can help your end-of-year campaign take flight. But the key is to start working now. Stop reading this and go. You’re still reading. We told you to stop. Go. Do work!