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Dear Betty: Is it too late for an end of year campaign?

By Dear Betty |December 18, 2013

Dear Betty,

The end of the year is approaching fast, and we’d like to take advantage of that to run some kind of holiday campaign. We know we’re getting a late start, but is there anything we can still accomplish in the remaining weeks?

Name and association withheld upon request

Source: 2012 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report

Gentle Reader,

According to Blackbaud’s 2012 Charitable Giving Report, fundraising organizations bring in nearly 18% of their annual revenue in December. Combined with November, when many end of year fundraising campaigns kick off, it rises to 26%. For online giving, a growing contributor to fundraising, holiday campaigns bring in 30% of the year’s revenue.

Clearly, end of year fundraising = big money.

However, this being mid-December, you are running a little late to start thinking about an end of year campaign. So the first thing I want you to do is to bring up Monday, August 4, 2014 in Outlook and make a note to yourself: “Start planning 2014 end of year fundraising campaign.”

I know it seems crazy to start thinking about a holiday campaign during the dog days of summer, but that’s when you need to start planning to make sure you’ll have your campaign ready to go. You’ll want to focus on:

  • Building your email and postal mail lists
  • List hygiene
  • Collecting personal stories to accompany your appeals
  • Putting together your creative brief and collecting compelling images
  • Creating a highly specific call to action (i.e., “Your donation of $100 buys X specific thing that helps solve the problem we’re addressing”)
  • Creating and testing-testing-testing your landing page
  • Lining up a major donor or corporate supporter for a matching campaign
  • Creating your schedule of appeals
  • Setting your fundraising goals (total dollar amount raised, number of donors, average gift, etc.)
  • Planning how you’ll take advantage of #GivingTuesday
  • Figuring out how you’ll incorporate friend-raising
  • Determining how you’ll thank and recognize your donors

I also recommend signing up for John Haydon’s e-newsletter. He’s a fantastic resource for non-profit marketing, with a strong focus on fundraising and social media. Go ahead and do that now.

But again, it’s already mid-December. Is it too late to do anything?

No! There are two simple campaigns you can run in the waning weeks of 2013.

  1. A year-end sale. According to Hubspot’s “47 Stats for Remarkable Holiday Marketing,” more than 60% of people would share a link to a holiday coupon or contest on Facebook, and nearly 40% tweet about offers and deals. Also, over 40% of people visit websites directly to learn about holiday deals, particularly in advance of Cyber Monday. Now is a great time to offer deals in your online store to your most loyal supporters (which also helps you clear out inventory if you need to).
  2. Speaking of loyal supporters, the holiday season is a fantastic time to recognize and thank them. Your donors mostly hear from you when you’re asking for money, or when you’re thanking them for a specific donation (and asking for more money). On the scale of relationship-building, that puts you at the level of the teenager who asks Mom for $20 to get lunch and never gives her back any change (speaking from experience here). The holidays are the perfect time to show that your organization has matured a little and can say “thank you” without an outstretched palm.

So Gentle Readers, what other creative suggestions do you have for building relationships with supporters during the holiday season?

Dear Betty

“Dear Betty” is the association advice columnist alter-ego of Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, CEO and Chief Strategist of Spark Consulting LLC. Elizabeth has over sixteen years of experience helping associations grow, in membership, marketing, communications, public presence, and especially revenue, which is what Spark is all about. She speaks and writes frequently on a variety of topics in association management. When she's not helping associations grow, Elizabeth loves to dance, listen to live music, cook, garden, and blog about the Philadelphia Eagles.

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