The most important fundraising season throughout the nonprofit industry is just around the corner. Year-end giving amounts to an estimated 40-70 percent of many nonprofits’ annual budgets. The most charitable season of the year is a prime opportunity to secure new supporters and to lift the giving levels of current donors.
A well-planned campaign based on donor-centered fundraising best practices will ensure your organization connects donors’ giving priorities with your mission to generate the highest level of revenue possible. In this blog series, we will review the steps to devising a strong campaign—including how to use data analytics to target your messaging, the importance of a compelling story, how to distribute your story through multiple channels, and when to follow up with donors.
With early planning and proper execution, this could be your best year-end yet.
1. START PLANNING EARLY
Here’s an unspoken truth about fundraising: your year-end planning starts in January. The essence of good fundraising is building strong relationships, so what works at year-end works all year long. Telling a compelling story each time you reach out to your do- nors will keep them inspired and engaged. All the communication done throughout the year should build into that year-end crescendo.
When you craft your strategic communication calendar for the year, consider centering your messaging on an overarching vision, goal, or campaign. Then break that overarch- ing vision into related themes that play out quarterly or monthly and reinforce your campaign mantra. Throughout each month, be sure that the drumbeat to your donors clearly outlines what the vision is, how you are reaching it, and what the impact will be when you achieve the goal. When it comes to year-end plans, this is a critical time to tell your story and its impact all year long.
Case in Point: CitySquare
One of Pursuant’s clients, CitySquare, crafted a yearlong strategy centered on their service areas—hunger, health, housing, and hope. Each quarter the messaging focused on one of those “Hs.” For example, when the quarterly theme was hunger, they used a video to communicate the story of a neighbor who received food as part of one of their hunger initiatives, and then connected that piece to the broader story of transforming lives and communities in Dallas..
Early planning and preparation allow you to identify your top goals and the steps to help you reach them, so keep that in mind when the new year rolls around. In the meantime, here’s what you should be doing now to build up your campaign prior to November and December.
September is a good time to craft your end-of-year campaign strategy, including your messaging and communications timeline. The communications you send to donors during September and October should build your case for support and ensure that your supporters know your story well enough that they will be compelled to give when you make more direct asks in November and December.
- Create a communications calendar with key dates for each year-end touch point. Be sure to include each opportunity you have to message to your donor – mail, email, social media, events – and list the target audience. Pay attention to who is receiving what types of communication. Segmenting audience and messages here is key.
- Map out the strategy to help you keep an eye on the big picture, as well as the steps involved on each project.
What If My Fiscal Year Ends in June?
You can implement different strategies for a fiscal calendar that doesn’t end when year-end giving does. Since giving often dips during the late spring and summer, you can add a special fundraising challenge, such as a matching grant, in the weeks leading up to your fiscal year close. You’ll benefit from the lift this gives your donations during the summer, and you can still participate in the traditional holiday giving season and tax-deductible gifts made at the end of the calendar year.