Think it’s too soon to plan ahead for your year-end campaign? Well, think again!
In fact, the dog days of summer are the best time to start thinking proactively about how you will engage donors with your year-end fundraising push.
We have to wear many hats as nonprofit professionals. And with so much going on, it’s important to take advantage of the limited time you have available and think ahead about what comes next.
But planning and executing a successful year-end campaign is not an easy task. You’ll need to reach your supporters with the right message, in the right way, at the right time to advance your mission. There will be a lot of moving parts.
And waiting until the last minute and scrambling to get an appeal package together will limit your fundraising potential.
So, here’s what you can start doing today to build a proactive plan for your year-end campaign.
Setting your goals.
First things first. You need to determine what you’re trying to achieve with this year’s year-end campaign. We’re sure you have a specific figure in mind for your fundraising goal. But planning ahead can help you focus on other areas too!
It’s time to start thinking out of the box. So, consider what goals will help you raise the money you need to advance your mission.
For example, you may decide to prioritize increasing each donor’s average gift size. Or maybe you want to improve your number of recurring gifts by promoting your monthly giving program.
And don’t forget to dig into your data from your past year-end campaigns! This will help you better understand where you may have fallen short in the past, so you can focus on improving those areas this year!
READ MORE: Why are you struggling to retain donors?
How to tell your story.
It’s important to determine what story you want to tell and how you will tell it before building your communications strategy. After all, the story in your year-end campaign is what will resonate with donors the most and inspire them to give.
And planning well ahead will help you become a more effective storyteller.
As you know, your nonprofit’s stories should focus on the donor and their role in bringing your mission to life. The idea is to explain the problem you’re trying to solve, why someone should care, and how they can be the hero and make an impact with their support.
And remember, people connect with other people. This makes a story about thousands feel faceless. However, you can create a more personal connection and inspire donors to engage by sharing the story of one person who is better off because of “donors like you.”
Identifying target audiences.
No two donors are the same. So, you can’t just reach out to your entire donor base with the same message and expect to have a successful year-end campaign!
You’ll get better results when you take the time to plan ahead and create targeted messages that inspire specific groups of your audience. You probably already have audience segments for groups like monthly donors, lapsed donors, major donors, and volunteers.
Major donors can’t receive the same ask string as someone who’s never given more than $50 at once. And lapsed donors need to be reminded of their past impact and what’s possible with their continued support.
It’s all about sharing messages that speak to the existing relationship someone has with your nonprofit. So, include language that thanks monthly donors for their continued support and asks them to consider a 13th donation this year.
And go the extra mile by creating a separate version of your year-end appeal for those who supported you on GivingTuesday. You may even forgo an ask for these donors and focus on how their donation on GivingTuesday is already making an impact instead.
Going surround sound.
Thinking ahead and planning your year-end campaign now will help you hit the ground running. After all, a successful year-end campaign requires a lot more than a single appeal letter.
And waiting until the last minute is the best way to make sure something slips through the cracks!
Start by listing all the touches you want to include in a campaign and what day they should be in a donor’s hands. This will allow you to work backward, giving you plenty of time to build the strategy for each touchpoint. And don’t forget to include time to design and produce each piece, especially your direct mailers.
Think strategically about how each touch in your year-end campaign leads into the next. Schedule an email to follow up on your appeal letter that reminds donors there’s still time to make a difference this year. Plan social media posts that engage your followers and encourage them to sign up for your mailing list before you send your first round of emails.
The most successful campaigns use surround sound communications to keep your organization and mission on a donor’s mind during the year-end giving season.
So, use all the channels you have available to make the biggest impact. And be sure to connect the dots between each touch so donors immediately recognize the appeal letter they received, the Facebook post they liked, and the email that’s coming up are part of the same campaign.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “If you’re not early, you’re late.” And this is exactly how we feel about developing your nonprofit’s year-end campaign strategy.
As you know, things come up at the last minute when you work at a nonprofit. So, remaining flexible and adjusting on the fly is a crucial skill for fundraisers.
But something has to give when you treat every task as an urgent need. And scrambling to get your year-end campaign together at the last minute will severely limit your ability to raise money, achieve your goals, and make the world a better place.
And that’s why it’s so critical to use the time you have available to be proactive and plan your year-end campaign. Because it will be too late before you know it.