Quick Guide to a Successful End of Year Giving Campaign


We’re weeks away from 2021! Even though we’re at the edge of our seats, waiting for this year to end, there is still a lot to do. End of year giving is the busiest time of the year, and we want to help you spread the word and raise funds to end 2020 on a good note. 

People’s generosity seems to skyrocket at the end of the year. By November and December, people are ready and willing to donate their time and money to the causes they care about. Your organization needs a definite end of year giving campaign to capture the attention of both old and new donors, persuading them to give you their attention at the busiest time of the year. 

There is a lot to do, so don’t spend your time reading dozens of articles on year-end giving. Our quick guide is here to get you started! 

Planning An End Of Year Giving Campaign Donors Will Gravitate To

The first thing you have to do before starting any campaign is to plan. What is the goal you hope to accomplish with your campaign? Awareness isn’t enough - people need to understand who you are and why they have to invest in your organization.  

Goal Planning: Primary and Secondary Goals

A clearly defined focus will make it easier for your campaign to succeed because your creating a measurement for your success. Start with your mission and discuss what you want to accomplish by the end of the year. 

After creating a list of goals, categorize them into primary and supplemental accomplishments. Your primary goals are overarching objectives your organization wants to meet, like increasing existing donors gift size by 2% or inspire 100 new donors to subscribe to your newsletter. 

A secondary goal is specific to the different departments within your organization, like increasing monthly giving, social media followers or finding brand ambassadors. Your goals should be realistic to your time frame but also offer a challenge that you can work towards. 

Choose Your Demographic

Segmentation is essential to any marketing or fundraising strategy. Different groups of people require different communication strategies, so dive deep into your CRM to see how to group your donors and what their values are. 

The holiday season is crazy for everyone, you’re fighting for your donor’s attention, and the best way to win is by creating personalized messaging. Start by looking at your system’s data and each donor’s giving patterns or RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value). Are they new donors or lapsed? Do they prefer to give monthly or in one large donation? 

Knowing the giving patterns that your donor has will help you shape your ask in a more manageable way. Acknowledge how they supported you in the past when sending solicitations, especially if they are a monthly donor. 

Next, think about the type of communication each group will receive. New donors would appreciate an email showcasing the work you’ve accomplished in a short video or photo album, while a large or medium size donor may look forward to a letter in the mail signed by your founder or CEO. 

Set a Budget 

When setting goals, you have to consider your fiscal situation. Can you afford to run ads, create content and support the goals you made for your year-end campaign? 

Look at the amount of money you spent in the previous year’s campaign as a starting point. Was that budget enough to support your vision, or did you have to adjust as you went along? Think about what aspects of your campaign are top priority and allocate your funds accordingly. 

How to Launch and Run Your Campaign

After planning out your goals, approach and budget, you have to begin thinking about your campaign strategy. What does it look like in action and create a timeline to keep you on schedule. 


Set Your Timeline 

Once you have your goals in place, create a timeline that tracks your tactics and deployment.  Often holiday and end of year campaigns start early!  Be sure to have a continuous stream of content that you can roll out that provides lots of different calls to action based on your campaign theme.  

Planning for direct mail campaigns should begin in the summer and early fall, so they are getting printed and ready to drop in November.  If you are considering premiums (i.e. holiday cards, an ornament or a bounce-back of well wishes), mail pieces should aim to drop in early October.  If you missed this timeline, build it back in when you do your 2021 budgeting!

If you have out of home or DRTV marketing hopes, these also will need to be booked well in advance.  

Keep Messages Donor Focused

Find your voice, and tell your nonprofit’s story while also keeping your campaign messages centred around donors. Keep things positive, show donors that their support makes dreams happen. It’s not just about fundraising, but also welcoming them into a community who cares about the cause you serve. 

Connect to your audience on a human level and speak to your mission and past success. Show people why they should donate and why they should trust your organization over others with the same cause. What makes you special, and how do you give your donors a chance to help others? 

Get Your Board and Volunteers Involved

Post the campaign on your website, promote it on your socials, send emails, talk to people about it and even sent direct mail solicitations. Let people know everything and anything they can do to support your end of year campaigns. That includes volunteering! 

If people can’t donate money, tell them about any volunteer opportunities your organization offers. Post or send emails directing donors to sign up forms. Volunteer Engine can help you organize a new surplus of volunteers, allowing you to schedule shifts, send notifications and sign waivers all from one application. Which is incredibly handy now that everything has gone digital. 

Another place to find fundraising support is within your board. Meet with your board of directors to discuss your goals and ways they can support your year-end campaigns. Perhaps they can connect you to friends, family, or colleges interested in donating or volunteering with your organization. 

Consider having your board and donors as part of the thank you process, helping to follow up with donors after your year-end campaign has ended. A thank you via phone call, or handwritten note can go a long way, so enlist the help of your board with donor follow-ups. 

Make it an  Integrated Campaign

Integrated campaigns are almost a necessity when it comes to your marketing or fundraising strategy. According to Nextafter, multichannel campaigns bring in 21% more revenue than offline only, and multichannel donors have a 52% higher retention rate.

Try connecting with donors through as many mediums as possible. If they donate online, in addition to sending a receipt through email consider mailing a postcard, or targeting campaign ads to people on your direct mailing list. Multichannel donors mean higher retention rates and more revenue. What’s not to love? 

Test, Test, Test!

Ensure you are running a few tests in the market to see what resonates best with your audiences.  You can try different tonal approaches (happy or sad), try different types of people in your ads, or other animals. Or even try things like adding colours or different designs.  Also test your call to actions.  Does a simple "donate now” work, or something like "change a life”.  

Ensure that any testing you do is clearly tracked through your online tools and processing.  Put tracking codes on your direct mail, ensure that your email action rates can be tracked.  Use google analytics and social media tracking to see what ads are driving conversions the best.  

Another great benefit of digital is it allows you to test and optimize quickly. If you can, look at how your ads are performing each day and optimize as you go.  

Finish Your Campaign By Following Up

Once you wrap up your end of year giving campaign, it doesn’t mean the hard work is over. Now it’s time to steward all of your new donors with a thank you! This is why using a good centralized CRM and integrated fundraising and marketing tools  are so important. It connects to your donation page to automatically collect your data, follow up with a receipt and any other automated messaging. 

You can segment right from the system and depending on the type of donation. If they choose to volunteer, follow up quickly, showing your appreciation and asking for their continued (or upgraded!) support. No one wants their efforts to go unappreciated, so it’s important to stay organized and remember to send personalized messages following up with your supporters. 

To learn more about engaging your donors, volunteers in staff listen to the Fundraising Superheroes Podcast where we speak with top industry professionals on all things nonprofit. If you’re interested in learning more about Volunteer, Member or Donor Engine contact us to speak with an associate to learn how we help organizations boost revenue by over 70%!

Report, Learn and Repeat 

At the end of the campaign it's key to pull together how it performed and determine key learnings and next steps to put into action for next year.  Look at each segment and how it performed by appeal.  What worked, what didn’t?  Where can you invest more in 2021?  Is it time to expand (maybe a symbolic giving campaign?) or is it time to focus your budget on the tactics that work best.  

Ensuring that you have the right technology, configured and tracking the right analytics will ensure that your organization will continue to grow based on data-driven decisions! 

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By on Nov 20, 2020, 12:00 AM


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