We Read Every End-Of-Year Fundraising Guide So You Don’t Have To

Philip Manzano • Sep 20, 2016

It’s time to get moving on your end-of-year fundraising campaign. Use the tips we gathered through various online guides to help get you started.

There are a lot of guides out there that teach you how to make the most of the upcoming giving season. We’ve scoured through these guides and made a quick list of the most important things you need to keep in mind as you ramp up for the end-of-year giving season

Which Guides do we read? 


What did we learn? 

End of Year Fundraising is Important. Up to 30% of annual giving happens in December. Even more, 10% of annual giving happens in the last three days of December  (Network for Good, 2014). Don’t miss out on the opportunity to leverage donations for the giving season – a little bit of work can really pay off for the year to come.

You can’t assume that your donations will just magically multiply in December just because people are feeling generous. You need to work for it. And the first step, of course, is to make a tight plan of action.

What did you do last year? Did it work? Take a look before you start this year’s campaign. What’s your fiscal situation? How much money do you realistically need to bring in through this campaign? Plan accordingly. What is the theme of this year’s campaign? On what platforms will you market your campaign? How frequently? Answer all these questions before you get started. Set the budget for your campaign, select a dedicated team and get the ball rolling.

In order to measure the success of a campaign you will need clear goals. For example, you may want to raise $30,000 this giving season or get 100 new members. Whatever goal you set, make sure you can evaluate your success at the end of the year. You can also outline the milestones that your team needs to hit in order to achieve that goal.

Every guide out there talks about the importance of segmenting your campaign. Segment your donors based on geography, demographics, interests – whatever works for you. The more relevant you can make each campaign outreach to a specific group of people the more likely you will be successful. Use the data you’ve collected about your donor’s throughout the year to really capture their interests.

Can your donors donate online? Is your online donation page easy to use? Make sure your donation forms are extremely easy to follow. Don’t bother collecting any information from donors that isn’t absolutely necessary. Every extra step you add to your donation process just gives another reason for a donor to leave the page without giving any money.

Another way you can keeps things simple for your donors is by limiting global navigation on your donation page. Leave all your website navigation options behind, keeping your donors focused on the task at hand.

Things may get a little crazy in your fundraising office during December, but that’s no reason to stop saying thank you. Care2 recommends you thank a donor three times – send an auto-generated thank you at the time of the donation, send a thank you a few days later, and consider sending a personalized thank you letter in the mail a few weeks later. Make sure your donors know how important their contribution wasand the difference it can make. 

Afraid to press the send button on the third campaign email this giving season? Don’t be! Of course you should not be spamming your donors, but  this is the time to really engage and stay connected . And don’t just rely on one form of communication to capture your donor’s attention. Be active on social media, make phone calls, set up in-person meetings. Engage with your donors in whatever way suits them best.

Whatever way you choose to engage your donors, make sure you are putting forth extremely clear Calls to Action. If you send an email with the goal of increasing online donations then put a big, colourful donation button on it. Let your donors know exactly what you want and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Salsa Labs says there are five times to really capitalize on end-of-year giving. They are:

  • Giving Tuesday. 
  • Early December.
  • Before December 25.
  • The last 5 days of December.
  • December 31.

Don’t miss out on sending emails, making phone calls or marketing your campaigns on social media on these dates. Statistically, these are the days people are ready to give – you just need to give them the opportunity.

People are in the holiday spirit, looking for appropriate gifts for their loved ones and looking to give to those in need. Provide you donors with meaningful ways to donate to your organization while positively engaging with their friends and family. This may mean that you create customizable holiday e-cards that donors can send to someone special which shows that a donation was given in their honour.

Another thing you can do is to create a holiday giving catalog. Turn your programs into purchasable items (e.g. one year of tuition for a girl, a goat for a family) which your donors can buy for their friends.

Don’t limit yourself to the donors you already have in your end-of-season campaign. Get out there and find some new donors. Be strategic. Maybe you put a “Tell a Friend” button on your donation site. Maybe you try a new social media platform to make your campaign relatable to a new group of people. Keep testing and see what works best in bringing in new people.

Once you have those new donors you want to keep them. One way to do that is to launch a recurring giving campaign . Organizations keeps only 23% of new donors, but monthly donors have a retention rate of 70% (Classy).

Finally, make sure your new donors feel welcome and know exactly what to expect when it comes to being a donor for your organization. Maybe you send them a few orientation emails when they first donate. Capture their attention and keep them engaged all year round.

One of the main things a donor looks for in an organization is their transparency. Start your relationship off on the right foot by being transparent in your campaign. This could mean showing a progress bar of your end-of-year campaign goals . Let your donors know when you need help and celebrate with them when you reach your goals. This will set your relationship off on the right foot.

Don’t lose your donors just because you didn’t follow up. Send out compelling follow up emails that show exactly the impact they made through their donation. If they made a donation to send a girl to school, a compelling follow-up may be a story of a young girl who recently started school through your programs. Stay relevant to the interests of your donor.

Sit back and observe what worked in this year’s campaign. Collect all the data you can and see what went right and what went wrong. Make some notes to guide your team for next year.


What’s the overall takeaway? Be organized, have a plan, try something new and follow through. Go forth and confidently take on the holiday giving season knowing you’ve done everything you can to prepare. Stay on top of giving trends and always look for new ways to actively engage your donors in your work.


Guest Blogging with Keela!

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