Heart Eyes or Side Eye: Fiscal Year End Campaigns

heart eyesFlowers are blooming, birds are chirping and kids are getting out of school. That can only mean one thing — time for fiscal year end campaigns? 

For nonprofits and fundraising professionals, the fiscal year end can feel urgent — there is a need to close the goals before opening another budget cycle. But does this deadline really mean anything to the general public? Is it an effective fundraising tool?

Our team usually sees eye-to-eye on the best fundraising and engagement tactics out there, but every once in a while some of us are in love with an idea, while others are not so sure. So in the spirit of healthy debate, we offer you Fresh Eyes’ inaugural Heart Eyes vs. Side Eyes: The Fiscal Year End Battle. 

Heart Eyes

  • As fundraisers, we’re always interested in authentic and natural ways to insert urgency into your case for giving, and the amount you raise now definitely will impact your organization’s ability to fund programs in the coming year.
  • Donors like to know how their money is spent. Fiscal year campaigns offer a great way to create an aspirational narrative for your donors. They see you setting goals and you give them a way to feel part of the organization’s mission. 
  • Fiscal year end campaigns help non-profits step outside of the newscycle and make your own story into news. 
  • The messenger matters: A letter from a CFO can add much-needed insight and urgency to the campaign. 


side eyesSide Eyes

  • To an average donor, fiscal year end doesn’t mean much. It’s an internal deadline that doesn’t really translate in the “real world”
  • Some donors may not understand the urgency or need for another “year-end”  appeal after calendar year-end campaigns back in December. 
  • It can be hard to keep the message clear. Yes, this is the end of the fiscal year, but the primary message is that hitting your budget now is what will allow you to fund the most meaningful and impactful work in the year to come. 


So… should you try it?

Overall we think that in the absence of news-driven urgency, it can be a good way to engage with your donor base. Before you take the plunge, however, you should set some goals and use metrics to track the efficacy of the campaign. And if you happen to be enjoying a moment of some breaking news related to your issue, really think hard about how and if fiscal year end urgency is going to help your campaign (or not!). It can work – but you might tread a bit differently if you are in rapid response mode. 

Want to learn more? If you need help benchmarking or dashboarding a campaign like this, we’re here to help!

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