It’s starting to look a lot like Chr…. End of Year campaign Season! This can be the most exciting time of the year for nonprofits. Not only is this the season of giving, but it’s a great time for your nonprofit to amp up donor relationships, send solicitation letters, and raise money from your generous donors.
This is the first of a series of posts that will walk you through how to create a successful End of Year campaign. We’ll delve into what your End of Year campaign should look like and how you can execute it successfully starting today, including:
How to write a successful EOY campaign
EOY emails and what should be included
EOY Social Media strategy
Thanking your EOY donors (in a meaningful way)
What is an End of Year campaign?
In a nutshell, your End of Year campaign is a fundraising campaign that takes advantage of the increase in charitable donations during the holidays - specifically during Christmas and New Year. An EOY campaign is considered to be the biggest fundraising event of the year, making it an important revenue opportunity for your nonprofit. That’s why it’s important to plan, create, and execute the appropriate steps for a successful campaign.
It’s a proven fact that individuals give more during this season than any other. Over 30% of annual giving occurs in the month of December alone. No matter the size of your nonprofit, there are fun, creative, and meaningful ways to increase your revenue and harness the power of end-of-year philanthropy.
How to execute a successful End of Year fundraising campaign
To make sure you are fully prepared and successfully execute your campaign, we recommend you start planning now!
53% of nonprofits start planning their EOY appeal in October, but the sooner you start, the better. It’s pretty much impossible that your fundraising letter will be the only one sitting in your donor’s mailbox in December, so you want to make sure yours shines. The best way to make sure your campaign really rocks is to start planning early.
Prepare and plan your campaign strategy
The first step in preparing your end of year fundraising campaign is to look at what you did last year. If you had an end of year solicitation, how did it go? Look at the data and see what worked - and also spend some time thinking about what areas could be improved. Who gave, how much did you raise, and what strategies worked? What new strategies and solicitation methods can you use this year, and are there people you should be asking that didn't give last year?
Next, create your campaign action plan! This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive document, but it’s important to establish your goals, set deadlines, and know what materials you need to create. This will help you create and execute your plan and maximize your chance of receiving more funding than you did last year.
Don’t leave your goals or objectives open-ended, even if this is your first fundraising campaign! Having specific goals will help you be successful. For example, a primary goal would be to send out your solicitation letter to previous, existing, and potential donors. However, a cut and paste letter won’t cut it for a diverse donor audience. Break this primary goal down into multiple supplementary goals by segmenting your letters -either by previous contributions, demographics, or channels of communication.
Set the scope of your campaign
Setting up the scope of your EOY appeals is so important. What do we mean by scope? Scope includes anything from identifying your audience, campaign branding, goals, and implementing EOY action plans. For example:
Identifying your audience: Who will you be asking for money? Do you have existing lists of donors and prospects, or do you need to create them? Who are these donors, and how can you create a compelling narrative that will speak to them - and inspire to give?
Campaign branding includes your theme and narrative. Your campaign theme shows donors exactly what they are funding and what your cause or mission is. Having a consistent theme across all fundraising channels will establish a strong call-to-action and entice those contributions. This includes establishing a strong narrative for your campaign.
Using metrics to track who you solicit, when and how much they give, and if you have followed up with them will be a critical tactic in making your campaign successful this year - and in the future!
All of these strategies will contribute to an effective solicitation that will leave your donors inspired to donate to your cause.
Write your campaign
Unfortunately, emojis and GIFs won’t convince your donors to contribute to your campaign. Writing is a crucial part of fundraising, when written correctly, campaign letters can be a simple and effective way to raise money for your organization. If you feel like you are lacking a strong writer on your team, now is the time to outsource this job - your solicitation letter is too important to try to cut corners!
Read more: Learn how to write fundraising letters that delight your donors.
Establishing a strong narrative for your campaign is key. This ensures you are telling your donors a story that they can relate to. Highlight your organization’s achievements, success, or gather a fantastic testimonial. Write a compelling appeal to convince your donors that your organization is making an impact and worthy of their support. Lastly, remember to make your fundraising letter donor-centered like we talk about here.
Your solicitation letter doesn’t need to be a technical, complicated story! It’s been proven that easy to understand narratives and longer letters are the highest donor converters in fundraising appeals.
While the holidays are a time of giving, they are also a time when everyone’s inboxes are being swarmed with coupons, sales, and charities seeking donations. Implement great writing strategies to make sure your emails are opened and clicked-through! We’ll have a whole blog post about how to write a great email sequence as part of this blog post series, to make sure you can rock your online fundraising efforts.
Promote your campaign on social media
There are several ways to utilize social media in your campaign. Choosing the right platform can have a large impact on donations. Videos are increasingly becoming a vital tool in converting online donors with 57% making gifts after watching. That’s a HUGE conversion!
Hashtags have been the rage for years - and they can be used for EOY campaigns too!
Some great year-round giving hashtags include:#GivingTuesday, #donate #charity #philanthropy, #giving, #fundraising #dogood and many more. During an EOY campaign, your nonprofit should be using these hashtags to engage both new, existing, and previous donors.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to your social media outreach is to make sure you are really engaging your donors in a conversation. Don’t beat them over the head asking for money post after post. Instead, post compelling stories about what you do and why it matters!
This might sound a little redundant, but if you don’t have easy-to-use systems in place, you can miss one of the most vital steps in any fundraising campaign. You can plan, strategize, write and promote till you are blue in the face. But your campaign won’t get off the ground if you can’t easily collect donations. This can easily happen if you don’t have a simple, clear giving page (or platform) set up.
This includes making your webpage mobile optimized! Completed transactions on mobile devices increased by 50% from last year. Keeping up with donor trends is important for your campaign!
Don’t forget to pay attention to your donor demographics. This will inform you whether it’s beneficial to have a mail, text to donate, call-in option, or web and mobile platforms.
If you want to make sure your nonprofit is maximizing its online contributions, take our Online Giving Assessment.
Thank You Letters
Like Mama always said, ‘Never forget to use your Pleases’ and Thank You’s’. Thanking your donors is probably one of the most important parts of any campaign. An effective EOY campaign strategy will have this implemented from the beginning to ensure Thank You’s are sent out in a timely manner. “What is a timely manner?”, you ask? Once a donation is received, a Thank You letter should be sent within 48 hours. This includes online/email Thank You’s - if that is a donor’s preferred method of communication.
Pro tip: Make sure your donors know how much of an impact their donation had on your cause!
Implementing the best EOY campaign practices and nailing it!
So, you've got the roadmap to create a killer EOY campaign for this upcoming holiday season. Now it’s time to put all of your strategic planning and EOY best practices into action.
Let’s summarize how to boost your End of Year fundraising success:
Prepare your campaign action plan
Establish your EOY scope
Create a solid campaign brand and narrative
Segment your donor lists appropriately
Select relevant communication channels
Set up expected donation levels
Write long-form letters (tell your story)
Implement email click-through strategies
Utilize social media to give your campaign the best advantage
Make sure donors can easily give their donations through the collection platform of your choice (online, mail, or phone)
Send final appeals through the New Year
Never, ever forget Thank You letters!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on how to take your campaign even further! Deep-dive into successful strategies that will help your nonprofit’s End of Year campaign!
Want to know more?
If you want more help, contact me and we'll come up with a custom End of Year campaign Strategy to help you be successful with your donors during the most giving time of the year!