Articles | Fundraising | Win Your Year-End Campaign—5 A.S.A.P Steps

Win Your Year-End Campaign—5 A.S.A.P Steps

Year-End Fundraising Campaign

We’re at the beginning of the end…of the year. Now’s the time for you to bear down and give birth to the most compelling fundraising campaign you have in you.

Email outreach is, of course, just one component of your multi-part year-end appeal. But it’s a channel that increases in importance — due to your ability to time receipt precisely — as you move towards the 2014 wind down.

Take a look at the email subject lines above —from December 2013 year-end appeal emails — to get clearer on what will work (and what won’t) for your organization this December.

Keep in mind that your people will (I hope!) have received your year-end asks for a few months by that time, and they’re likely to be feeling some donor fatigue.

Here’s how to finish with a burst (rather than a whimper):

1) Make it personal to match your prospects’ wants and passions. The end of the year is already emotionally weighted with review of the year past and hopes and goals for the year to come. So emphasize that connection (between your organization’s look back and forward with those of your supporters and prospects).

Also, include one of your team’s names (or rotate names) in “from” lines and direct mail signatures (all-year-round recommendation).

2) Motivate, don’t nag. Ringing in the new year with by taking a passionate stand motivates me big time, while nudging me that the clock is ticking just bugs me. I have the same calendar you do!

I ADORE the two subject lines highlighted in yellow above. Both refer to time’s forward momentum, but in the context of the organization’s impact rather than the calendar year. That made sense to me, and I contributed to both organizations.

3) Launch a three- to four-month campaign, starting YESTERDAY (or today, if you haven’t go yet), rather than rely on a late December one off. But make sure to tie all campaign elements together with a single, memorable theme.

Doctors without Borders featured dramatic stories of rescue and relief efforts around the world, from Sudan to Bossangoa, Central African Republic. They crafted their email series to be so compelling that you couldn’t resist opening each one, like the serial novels of yore. That’s step one to your year-end win.

4) Integrate your email series with your social media channels (where you are already — don’t go out for the first time at this point) AND direct mail (IF your past fundraising results show you mail works).When people see consistent messages and “look and feel,” they are more likely to remember and share them, and to act. Consistency suggests reliability and makes it easier for your prospect.

5) Laser focus on your appeal during the last week of the year, rather than talking about events to come. Keep your base’s eye on the prize, especially during that final week when we’re all distracted by holidays, family and honing those new year resolutions.

What’s worked for your year-end fundraising campaign, and what’s flopped? Please share your stories here.

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising | 3 comments


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  • Lauren

    Hi Nancy: Great article. Question: Do you define the last week of the year as the week that includes Christmas? Or the week before Christmas? Thanks

  • Nancy Schwartz

    Hi Lauren – I’d say 12/24-31 this year. Hope that helps.

  • Lauren – Great question! The last week is the last week (December 25-31). I recommend as many as three asks that week, including one on the 31st.

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