Picture this: It’s the end of the year. Your GivingTuesday campaign was a smashing success. Your donor database is full of new donors. Emails are written and scheduled. You’re sailing serenely through your daily to-do lists before clocking out—right on time—and heading home (or to a holiday party).
Sounds like a dream, right?
It doesn’t have to be! If you plan your year-end activities well in advance, you can avoid some of the last-minute business often associated with end-of-year fundraising. In this article, you’ll find links to some handy resources you can use to plan your year-end campaigns. We’ll also cover three extra tasks you’ll want to include in your planning.
Let’s take a look!
A Nonprofit Year-End Checklist & Other Useful Tools
Your nonprofit’s year-end checklist will look different than the checklist for the organization down the street. Your donor base is different, your communications calendar is different, and you’re almost certainly running very different fundraising campaigns!
Use these resources to put together the ultimate year-end checklist.
Prepare for Success: Planning Your Year-End Giving Campaign
This guide walks you through the beginning stages of planning your year-end campaign. You’ll spend some time analyzing last year’s campaign and setting goals for this year’s activities, then you’ll create a timeline and plan your fundraiser’s theme and narrative. This is a great guide to read through before you use the timeline and checklists in the next resource.
The Ultimate Year-End Giving Timeline
This handy downloadable includes a timeline for planning your year-end campaign, complete with checklists for each stage. It includes a week-by-week breakdown of important tasks and milestones to check off as you work through the end of the year.
Ace Your Year-End Appeal in 9 Simple Steps
Feeling intimidated by writing your year-end appeal? That’s completely understandable! This step-by-step guide to writing a great appeal will get you started. You’ll discover tips for segmenting your audience, creating personalized messaging, and establishing a follow-up plan that will boost your donor retention in the coming year.
Year-End Fundraising Letter Templates
Starting the writing process with a blank page is the pits, even if you have read about how to create a great appeal in nine simple steps. Jumpstart your appeal with one of these handy templates! Each template also includes an example that will give you a feel for how you can structure your own fundraising letter.
1. Thank Your GivingTuesday Donors
GivingTuesday—an international movement that celebrates generosity—is the unofficial start to the giving season. After the shopping sprees that usually mark Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, donors all over the world come together to support their favorite nonprofits.
The big event is always the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And, since nearly one-third of all donations happen in December, you’ll almost certainly launch your year-end giving campaign shortly after GivingTuesday.
What does that mean for your donors who gave on GivingTuesday? Should you skip sending them your year-end appeal?
No! People who donate to a nonprofit on GivingTuesday are often very open to giving again later in the year. But those donors need to receive a thank-you letter between GivingTuesday and before they receive a second appeal.
Add an item near the top of your checklist: “Thank our GivingTuesday donors.” A day or two after the big day, send your donors an email thanking them for their support, sharing how much they donated, and telling them what that money will accomplish.
Your donors will be much more likely to donate—and to be excited about donating—when the impact they made with their last gift is forefront in their minds when they receive your next appeal.
You don’t have to start from scratch! You can download these templates for receipts and thank-you letters that will knock supporters’ socks off after GivingTuesday and year-round.
2. Do a Campaign Review
You added an item to the top of your checklist. Now here’s one for the bottom: Work with your team to review your year-end campaign. Resist the urge to dive right into planning for the upcoming year and spend some time evaluating this year’s performance and making notes you can use to guide next year’s strategy.
Here are some questions you might want to discuss with your team:
- Did you meet your fundraising goal?
- What communications and fundraising tactics worked best?
- What communications and fundraising tactics didn’t work? How would you approach them next time?
- If you sent more than one appeal, which performed better? What do you think contributed to its success?
- What changes can you make in future campaigns to make sure things go even more smoothly?
These questions will help you get a feel for how your campaign performed and, more importantly, they’ll help start important conversations that will make future campaigns more effective.
During this conversation, make sure to take notes and keep them somewhere accessible! You can reference them during future campaign planning to set realistic goals, refine processes, and improve your appeals.
3. Tidy Up Your CRM
Listen, we get it. The last thing you want to do after running a successful year-end fundraising campaign is do a data cleanup. But spending a few hours cleaning up your data, entering notes about the end of the year, and making sure your CRM is in good shape will pay off in the new year.
Take some time to go through your database and:
- Merge or remove duplicate records
- Enter any remaining notes about donor interactions
- Update mailing addresses, email addresses, or employer information
- Doublecheck new donor information
- Update existing donor segments or create new ones
This is also a great time to run a few reports that will help you plan next year’s activities. Check out your donor retention rate, engagement rates for emails and other communications, and generally get a feel for how you performed this year.
Have You Built Your Nonprofit Year-End Checklist?
Thorough planning is the best way to run an effective year-end fundraising campaign without exhausting yourself. The tips and resources in this article will give you a great starting point for the planning process.
If you compare your year-end checklist to another organization’s, you’ll probably find they’re both pretty different. And that’s okay! Your organization is unique, and everything you do to support your work will be unique, too.
That said, we hope you’ll include these three tasks in your plan. Make sure anyone who donates to you on GivingTuesday receives a thank-you letter and an update before they receive an additional appeal. And, at the end of the year, take some time to review your campaign performance and tidy up your CRM. It’s a great way to ensure you start the new year on the right foot.
Plan Better Campaigns With Neon CRM
Do you wish it was easier to tidy your donor data? Want to review your campaign performance? Need to pull insights that will help you plan your fundraising strategy in the coming year?
Neon CRM has the features you need! Built-in fundraising and donor management tools mean all of your data lives in one place, and its powerful reporting system makes it easy for you to uncover insights that will make future campaigns more successful.
You can learn more about Neon CRM and how it can support your team by joining one of our group demos. They’re a great way to get a feel for the platform without the pressure of a sales conversation. Find a group demo that suits your schedule—we’ll see you there!
Join the discussion in our Slack channel on connected fundraising