Five hot tips for your year-end fundraising campaign

With the arrival of the September equinox, today is the first official day of fall. But here at Fresh Eyes Digital, we’re also marking another occasion today: We’re just 100 days out from the end of the year.

Nonprofit fundraisers know how busy these early fall months can be in preparation for year-end fundraising, when almost all nonprofits earn the majority of their annual gifts. And although many of us accept the busyness as part and parcel of the life of a fundraiser, busy can quickly segue to anxiety, fear and agony — and no one wants that!

But worry not! It’s totally possible to alleviate and even overcome any emerging feelings of panic you might be experiencing.  Combined, our team of Freshies has led our clients through more than 60 year-end seasons — and today, we’re sharing five hot tips to help you tackle this year’s year-end campaign with minimal worry. Let’s get to it!

Tip #1: Plan early.

It’s been said that the best time to start planning your year-end campaign is in January right after the last one ends. That might be an overstatement, but it’s true that analyzing the data and capturing the bright spots, insights, and lessons learned while they’re fresh in your mind can be infinitely helpful. However, we know that with so many development teams stretched so thin, getting a start that early just isn’t feasible. But now that we’re at the 100-day mark, now is the time to map out your strategy and content, if you haven’t already! Start with a data and creative review of last year’s campaign. What worked? What didn’t? And what can you improve this time around? 

Tip #2: Don’t be too concerned about a campaign theme.

You might have heard that developing a theme is a key component of a year-end campaign. But here’s the thing: While a messaging through-line across your campaign can help to strengthen its performance, year-end campaigns are tactical in nature. You’ve spent the rest of the year cultivating and stewarding your nonprofit’s supporters to remember that this is the time to lean on the tried-and-true fundraising tactics you already know work for your nonprofit’s supporters. By the time you get to the last week of the year, your appeals should look like reminders with very little text and very few barriers to getting right to that donation page. 

Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to send too many emails. 

We know this one can be a little tough to accept for some folks, especially if you’re newer to digital fundraising. But while people have been claiming for years that “email is dead,” it’s simply not true. And sure, everyone complains that they get too much email, but it rarely bears out in the data.  

As our friends at M+R indicated in their 2021 Benchmarks Study, “overall email fundraising performance improved by just about every metric for every kind of nonprofit” — and that’s partially because nonprofits increased their average email messaging by 17%. Moral of the story: Don’t let your worry over email volume stop you from maximizing your performance — and as always, be respectful of people’s time and attention spans in a busy end-of-year season. 

Tip #4: Don’t forget your multichannel donors.

Research shows that multi-channel donors—those who give to your nonprofit in more than one channel (mail, email, phone, sms, etc)  not only give up to three times more than other donors, they also tend to stick around longer. Year-end season is the perfect time to retain and even gain new multichannel donors, and we encourage you to take the time to align your messaging, timing, and audiences to provide a seamless and consistent journey across channels.

Tip #5: Answer the question: How can we expand on last year’s campaign?

If you haven’t yet taken the time to examine your 2020 year-end campaign’s performance, now’s the time to do it. Which emails were the highest performing, and what characteristics do they share? Did a specific segment of your file respond especially well to a match, lift note, or email signer, for example? Whatever insights and takeaways you  can glean from last year’s campaign are a great place to start as you begin to map out your year-end strategy.  

These five easy tips can help you drive digital engagement and fundraising during year-end, when you can make the most impact. But if you’re still feeling like you could use some support, please do drop us a line—we’d love to discuss how we might help!

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