Caron Beesley is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. She is a marketing communications consultant and writer for Salsa. She has over 15 years experience helping organizations large and small connect and engage with their audiences. She has a degree in English Literature and Communication Studies and is a British ex pat, currently soaking up southern living in Cary, North Carolina.

This article originally appeared on Salsa. Read it here.
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Summer’s over and the busiest fundraising season of the year is right around the corner. Are you ready? To help you get a jumpstart on your campaign planning, we’ve put together a checklist of things you can do now to ensure a blockbuster end-of-year fundraising appeal.

1) Start with the Big Picture

What are your campaign objectives? Sure, you want to raise money, but what’s your message? Why would someone support your cause over another at this busy time? And so on. What’s your theme? How can segmentation strategies help? What about putting beneficiaries front and center? Does video have a place in your campaign?

2) Have an Idea of What Success Looks Like

For example, you may want to increase end-of-year giving by x%. Or perhaps you want to increase new donor acquisition rates or the average gift per donor? The more specific you can be in identifying your goal, the easier it will be to attain.

3) Think About the Tactics That Will Help You Achieve Your Goals

Increasing your donations doesn’t happen just because everyone is in a warm and fuzzy giving mood. Think of some creative ways to boost your results. Consider the following:

  • Could you run a matching program?
  • Do you have a celebrity who is connected to your cause?
  • Are you going to participate in #GivingTuesday? (Check out our #GivingTuesday campaign planner)
  • Are you launching an optimized donation form to increase gift conversion?
  • Are you upgrading donors by landing them on appropriate forms with increased gift string suggestions based on their highest previous contribution?
  • Are you targeting non-donors with a low-dollar ask or a special acquisition campaign?
  • Are you targeting mid-dollar donors with a high-dollar circle ask?
  • Are you targeting monthly givers to ask them for an additional end-of-year-gift?
  • Will you send five email appeals rather than last year’s four?
  • Will you appeal to your social network community? How many times?

4) Come Up With Your Theme or Narrative Arc

What issue(s) resonate(s) most with your donors? What emotional stories do you have at your disposal? Can you weave these issues and stories together into a cohesive narrative arc that sustains the campaign? Here are some tips for using stories to engage supporters. But don’t stop there, polish off your visual storytelling too.

5) Plan Your Campaign Calendar

Now that you have your goals, tactics and narrative in place, it’s time to put it all together and plan your calendar. Take a look at this end-of-year fundraising campaign planning infographic for some ideas on timing. As you populate your calendar, think about the following:

  • Your launch date
  • How many times you’ll make an email ask. Ask at least twice, if not three or more times before Dec. 25. Plan to really hit the last week of the year with at least three asks. Ask more than that if you can. December is not the time to be bashful.
  • What’s your call to give/ask?
  • What’s your segmentation strategy for each email?
  • Is a landing page needed?
  • How else are you going to promote your message on your website—home page banner/modal box?
  • How will you coordinate the campaign across different channels (social media accounts, email, blogs, etc.)?
  • What about offline plans?

If you start now you’ll have plenty of time to get these steps taken care of. For more ideas check out end-of-year campaigns that work.