The Complete Guide to End of the Year Fundraising

Fundraising, Intermediate

By Jeremy Reis

For many nonprofits, the last quarter of the year – October-December – is half (and sometimes more) of your total fundraising for the year. It is crucial to create a strategy for this quarter and execute it for success. How will you succeed in your end of the year fundraising?

In this article, you’ll learn how to have a successful end of the year. You’ll learn how to write great appeals, create a strategy for success, execute it precisely, what to do for Giving Tuesday, how often you should email your donor audience, and how to close out the year strong.

I encourage you to follow this process and write down your goals, strategy, and plan. This quarter can become hectic fast and if you don’t write it down, you’ll find yourself looking back in January with regret because you missed something. Documenting your end of the year plan will also help you evaluate how you did so you’ll have a plan to review when it comes time to plan next year’s end of the year fundraising.

1. Set Your Goals

Your fundraising strategy is similar to writing down directions to get to a destination. The goals are your destination.

Without the goals, or place you’re going, directions are meaningless. You need to know where you’re headed before you can develop a plan to get there.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set end of the year goals – fundraising and other goals. Don’t skip this step, you will be disappointed in your results if you don’t take the time to document your goals.

2. Develop Your Strategy

It’s not too late to develop your strategic plan! Many organizations fundraise without a written strategy. Writing your end of the year strategy will yield better results – and a happier staff. Your year end strategy details out the goals you want to achieve, what you are going to accomplish, and set the stage for your tactical plan (how you’re going to do it). In this article, you’ll learn how to develop a strategic plan.

3. Build Your Tactical Plan

Once you’ve developed a rock solid end of the year fundraising strategy, let’s create a tactical plan to get it all done. The strategy is the “what are we going to do” while the tactical plan is “how are we going to do it.” In the latter half of this article, you’ll take your strategy plan and turn it into specific tactics you can use for a successful holiday fundraising quarter. You’ll also get some creative ideas for campaigns you can do at year end.

4. Learn How to Write a Great Appeal

All of your hard work this quarter will come up short if you don’t send great fundraising appeals to your audience. In this article, you will learn how to:

  1. Tell a story
  2. Make it easy to read
  3. Be clear
  4. Provide a sense of urgency
  5. Be concise
  6. Demonstrate impact
  7. Tell the story through the donor’s eyes
  8. Write in a conversational tone
  9. Connect the appeal to the landing page
  10. Create a successful call to action
  11. Thank the donor

You’ll find more success in your end of the year fundraising when you research and write great fundraising appeals.

5. Gather Your Stories

Before you can write your next great fundraising appeal, you need a great story. Great stories come from a lot of hard work, preparation, and research. In this article, you’ll learn “the story of the one,” a technique we use to tell fundraising stories of a single beneficiary who will benefit from the donor’s gift. This is a hands-on article with a sample story collection worksheet, selecting the right stories, and how to write the story.

Looking for more? Listen to this podcast:

6. A Successful Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is increasingly becoming a valuable time to raise revenue for your nonprofit. Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday (the week following Thanksgiving), on this day, people are encouraged to give to organizations they support. What will you do for Giving Tuesday? In this article, you’ll learn 10 great ideas for campaigns you can run to raise the most money possible for your organization.

7. How Much Email is Too Much?

I often hear the question, “how much email is too much in October through December?” My experience has been that most nonprofits are too conservative in their email send frequency and end up missing opportunities in this quarter. In this article, you will learn how to put together an effective email plan for your nonprofit organization.

8. The Last Two Days

I have found the last two days of the year to be the two most powerful days of the giving season. In this article, you’ll learn how to set a smart strategy for making the most of these two days and increase your end of the year giving.

9. Thanking Your Donors

How do you properly thank your donors? First, learn some phrases you can use to properly thank your donors. Next, discover 11 creative ways to say “thanks” to your donors. You’ll want to focus on the essentials of thank you communications for donors. Want to put together a video thanking your donors? You’ll find a couple sample donor thank you video scripts in this article.

Assembling a successful strategy for year end fundraising requires planning and a lot of hard work. I hope you have the most successful fundraising quarter your organization has ever experienced!


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