Year-End Fundraising Decisions to Make Now

Making a decisionI’m coaching a fundraising team at a national nonprofit that wants to revamp its annual communications calendar. As part of that process, we are looking at their editorial calendar for their year-end fundraising campaign, which will include direct mail, email, and social media.

Before they can develop that plan, however, they have several strategic decisions to make, and this is the time of year to be making them.

If you want to have a great year-end, you should start talking about these decisions within your organization too. For example . . .

What’s the ask, specifically? Are you fundraising so you can make all kinds of great stuff happen in 2015 (a more traditional annual appeal message) or are you fundraising for something more specific?

Is there an engagement ask too? It’s often nice to pair a financial ask with an engagement ask of some sort (sign a pledge, write a letter, upload a photo, etc.) for the online communications. It gives you something else to talk about, and your supporters another way to feel involved.

Will there be a match? Matches can be powerful incentives, especially for smaller donors, because it allows them to “double their money.”  You’ll need to line up the donor who will be offering to make the match if you meet your goal.

Will you report on the campaign progress as you go? Sometimes part of the messaging is about working toward a specific goal. Do you want to set one, and report on it throughout the campaign? This is almost always part of the campaign messaging when a match is involved.

When will the campaign start and end? I recommend thinking about the week or two before Thanksgiving all the way through early January.

How will the campaign start and end? If we go with the “little bit before Thanksgiving” and “little bit after New Year’s” approach, then you are probably doing Thank You messaging at both ends. Thank you videos are a great approach here. Check out my thank you video playlists on YouTube for inspiration.

What about Giving Tuesday? If you are participating, how does it fit into your year-end strategy? You can use it as the public launch of your year-end strategy (which means you’ve actually been talking about it publicly for at least a couple of weeks before that.) You can also keep the messaging separate and just focus on raising money for a specific project that day. Or you could use the day as a hook for corporate giving or other partnerships, where other organizations are fundraising for you, but it’s not a huge part of your own messaging to your donors. Salsa Labs answers some questions about integrating Giving Tuesday into year-end campaigns on their blog.

What resources can you devote to this? The amount of direct mail, email, and social media that you’ll do in support of the campaign depends on how much staff time and money you can devote to direct expenses. What’s a reasonable amount of communications to produce this year?

 What other decisions are you making now about your year-end campaign? Share in the comments.

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