The year-end campaign is an important part of the fundraising calendar. These campaigns allow nonprofit organizations everywhere to benefit from the rise in giving that typically occurs in November and December of each year. Research suggests that between 35 and 42 percent of all online giving happens during these months and that the average gift during the final quarter of the year is significantly higher: $84.51 compared to the average of $67.47 for the other three quarters.While most nonprofits start to plan for year-end campaigns in August and September, October is the month that things really kick into gear. As your nonprofit begins to get in the thick of execution, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your fundraising efforts:

  • Fine tune your messaging
    Finalize the key messages of your year-end campaign to help gain direction and reveal or enhance a theme. Endless possibilities exist for ways to approach messaging  …
  • ‘Tis the season! Frame your campaign messaging around the spirit of the upcoming holidays. Tuck your annual letter into a cheery holiday card or send a seasonal gift with your appeal, like a snowglobe complete with a photo of your mission in action or a seasonal ornament.
  • Gift giving. Suggest donors “avoid the malls and shop at home” on your website, where they can find mission-focused gifts. Offer a small gift, like dark chocolate almonds or a logo’d fleece, as a thank you to both the gift-giver and the recipient for thinking of your organization this holiday season.
  • Year-end reports and accomplishments. Recap prior year accomplishments, set the tone for the challenges of the coming year and secure financial support to maintain momentum. Don’t forget that pictures can often tell your story better than any report or letter ever could—throw in a set of photos from the year in a gift donors can keep forever, like a photo album.
  • Thank you! Take the opportunity to “give thanks” to donors at the end of the year and set forth resolutions for the New Year. Send handwritten notes or personalized letters with affordable gifts, like T-Shirts or pens.
  • Tax time. Secure last-minute, year-end donations by reminding donors of upcoming tax deadlines. Offer to send a year-end “receipt” for all tax-deductible gifts from the year.
  • Lock it down
    After key messages and themes are identified, finalize the details:

    • Reach out to board members about the possibility of a matching-gift program as a part of the campaign.
    • Finish the editorial calendar for the days leading up to the launch of the campaign—what’s being mailed, emailed, posted to the website and social media accounts and when.
    • Develop, proof and approve copy and design elements of campaign pieces, like direct mailers and splash pages.
    • Decide on a coding system to track gifts made as part of the year-end campaign.
    • Discuss the internal calendar—who will be out of the office for holidays and when, how will donations be processed and more.
    • Finalize and de-dupe e-mail and direct mail lists.
    • If direct mail is an aspect of the campaign, coordinate volunteers to stuff and seal envelopes and call the post office to coordinate your bulk mail rates. Be sure to discuss processing time with them to ensure your mailing gets out in time!
  • Launch it off
    Be prepared to start asking for gifts in late November, as it’s when holiday e-commerce really starts to boom. During the third week of November, post preliminary promos on your organization’s website, run Google® ads and activate donation forms. Utilize that calendar you created to send a steady stream of email notes and reminders to donors and program participants, as well as frequent updates regarding fundraising goals on your fan page or tweet stream.

The holidays may seem like ages away right now, but really they’ll be here before we know it. Kick your nonprofit’s year-end campaign into gear today to get the best results possible tomorrow.

Santicola, Abny. “Tips for End-of-Year Campaign Success : Page 1 of 3 : FundRaising Success.The Fundraiser’s Complete Source for Multichannel Strategy and Integration Techniques : FundRaising Success. 20 Oct. 2009. Web. 11 Aug. 2011.

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