Thought Leadership

Raising Funds for a Better World: How to Run a Successful End-of-Year Campaign in Uncertain Times

Hands filled with coins and a paper note that reads "make a change."

If you’re looking for something to worry about, you won’t be hard pressed to find something to fret over these days. But at Town Hall, we understand that the difficulties we are facing can compel us to pause and ask ourselves, and our clients– what kind of future do we want to build together? And how are we going to raise the funds to get there?

The last three months of the year tend to be the craziest for nonprofits with all of the pressure to raise the lion’s share of funds that will ensure that you can keep making a difference. Fundraising professionals know that 36% of charitable giving happens in October, November and December and 11% happens in the last three days of the year… so how do you stand out?

What we see, year after year, is that whatever cause gets you out of bed every morning– food security, social justice, public health, environmental stewardship– there are certain commonalities that inform the best ways to build an End of Year Campaign that will raise the funds you and your organization will need to “Be the Change” in the coming year.

Aim High and Plan for Success:

In the early stages of planning, the three most important things you need to identify are goals, messaging, and timing.

It’s important to refer to previous years and consider the context in which you operate to set ambitious yet achievable goals that are directly related to tactics you’ll employ.

Your messaging across all your channels should include a core theme that builds a strong connection between those goals and the ways your organization makes a difference now, and the ways those efforts could grow in meaningful ways in the coming year.

And be sure to plan the timing of your campaign phases around when people are most likely to give– so get on their radar early for Giving Tuesday, stay top of mind throughout the season, and be sure to plan a big donation push just before the finish line.

Integrate Your Channels and Learn In Flight

When it comes to your marketing channels, remember– the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and synergies, by definition, create value. You want to be sure that the various pieces of the machine are working together effectively.

Your website is your cash register, so make sure your landing pages and donation options are customized and functioning properly. Email messaging is critical to communicating more deeply, while social posts can keep things lively and exciting, and the two should work together to weave your followers into a community.

Be sure to work in segmentation and carefully tailored messaging according to interests, giving potential, prior involvement with your organization (to name just a few). And be sure to integrate paid media– it’s critical to reaching new audiences and driving the remarketing audiences you’ve nurtured over the course of the year to donate.

And don’t forget to test and optimize as you go. You may make bets in the early planning phases that don’t perform well in the first few weeks, so if you see something lagging it’s important to be nimble, don’t be afraid to optimize away from anything that isn’t performing.

A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way

In showing appreciation to your donors, be sure to make it about their generosity, not your goals. Communicate the importance of their gift and how their money will be put to good use through both numbers and stories of impact.

And don’t forget to thank as you go! When people see others making donations, it inspires confidence and builds confidence that their money will go to making a difference, so lift up people who are contributing and invite them to ask their friends to do the same.
And remember, above all– keep it human. People give when they believe what you do matters, and they want to be part of that story. Come what may, we’re in it together. So let’s keep that in mind as we build fundraising strategies that compel people to invest in making the future a little brighter.

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