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On average, nonprofit organizations raise 17 to 22 percent of their annual fundraising revenue in December. If your nonprofit is looking to take advantage of this profitable year-end fundraising season, you need a strategic communication plan that reflects your purpose and inspires donors to give generously.
In this guide, we’ll provide tips for creating a comprehensive year-end fundraising communication plan to engage donors, achieve fundraising goals, and ultimately make a positive impact in your community. Whether you’re crafting one from scratch or improving upon your current strategy, these tips will help you maximize results.
What is a year-end fundraising communication plan?
A year-end fundraising communication plan is a strategy that outlines your nonprofit’s goals and methods for communicating with donors during the final months of the year.
Since the end of the year marks a noticeable uptick in giving, planning your communications well in advance can significantly improve your fundraising success. Plus, it can set the tone for the upcoming year by providing a roadmap for future fundraising efforts and building momentum for ongoing initiatives.
When should you begin creating your year-end fundraising communication plan?
The timing for creating your year-end fundraising communication plan may vary depending on the size and complexity of your organization and campaign. However, it’s generally recommended to begin planning at least three to four months before November to allow enough time for strategizing, developing compelling messaging, and implementing feedback from past campaigns.
Planning early will ensure that your organization has enough time to create an effective fundraising campaign that engages donors and meets your goals.
4 tips for creating a successful year-end fundraising communication plan
Here are four tips for creating a year-end fundraising communication plan to inspire meaningful support from donors.
1. Review the previous year's campaign
Reviewing your nonprofit's previous year-end fundraising campaign results is an important step in preparing for the upcoming year-end fundraising season. The insights you discover can help improve performance, increase engagement, and better position your organization for continued success.
Here are a few ways to review your previous year-end campaign results:
- Analyze data, such as the number of donors, donation amounts, retention rates, and engagement metrics. This will help you understand what worked well and what can be improved going forward. You can also segment your data by various criteria such as geography or donor type to identify trends to inform your strategy.
- Use your data to inform your decision-making process for the upcoming campaign. For example, if you noticed a decline in donor retention, you may want to focus on improving your donor stewardship strategies to build greater loyalty among your donor base.
- Solicit feedback from your staff, volunteers, and donors to get a holistic view of your previous campaign. Ask what they thought worked well and where they think there's room for improvement. This feedback can help you identify areas to adjust to maximize the effectiveness of your upcoming campaign.
Once you have reviewed your past performance, create specific and achievable goals for your current year-end campaign. For example, your goal might be to increase your number of donors by 20% or raise $50,000 in donations by a specific date.
2. Define your target audience
Having a clearly-defined target audience allows your nonprofit to focus its communication efforts and resources on the people who are most likely to donate. This results in a more efficient and effective fundraising campaign, leading to higher donation rates and greater support for your organization.
To identify your target audience, work with your team to:
- Review past donor data. Scan through your donor database to identify trends in donor demographics, preferences, interests, and engagement history. Use this information to identify your most valuable or loyal supporters and understand what motivated them to donate.
- Conduct prospect research. Prospect research helps you find potential donors who are both willing and capable of supporting your cause. It typically involves analyzing publicly available data to determine an individual’s ability and inclination to give.
Based on this information, create donor personas that represent the different groups of supporters who are likely to donate to your campaign. Then, craft your messages and select your communication channels according to their preferences.
3. Craft your message and select communication channels
When it comes to choosing communication channels for your year-end campaign, consider the preferences and habits of your donors. For instance, if your target audience responds better to email and phone appeals, then focus your efforts on those channels.
Then, craft a year-end fundraising message that emphasizes the impact of donations and creates a sense of urgency around your campaign. Some tips for crafting an effective message include:
- Personalizing the message and using emotional language.
- Using data to underline the need for donations.
- Telling stories of people who have benefited from your organization's work.
- Using clear and concise language.
Here's an example of a personalized year-end fundraising campaign message that a nonprofit might use to solicit donations:
Sandra, as the year comes to a close, we're reflecting on all that you have helped us to accomplish. Thanks to the generous support of donors like you, we have delivered free, nutritious meals to over 10,000 individuals in the community. But our work isn't done yet. There are still people in our area who are hungry and in need of assistance. By reaching our fundraising goal of $15,000 by January, we can extend vital resources and services to those suffering from food insecurity. Can we count on your donation?
4. Measure success and make improvements
As you put your year-end fundraising communication plan into action, evaluate its effectiveness throughout the campaign. Here are some steps you can take to measure and improve upon your year-end fundraising efforts:
- Track your progress. As your campaign unfolds, track your progress toward your goals. Use software or spreadsheets to record metrics like donation rates, engagement metrics, and other key performance indicators in real-time.
- Analyze your data. Once your campaign has concluded, look at your donor demographics, your most effective channels, and your highest-earning fundraising events. Note any patterns or trends to inform your future campaign planning.
- Compare to past results. Compare this year’s performance with that of previous campaigns. This will help you understand whether your adjustments were successful and where improvements are still needed.
Based on your analysis, identify improvements to add to your next year-end fundraising communication plan. This ensures that you will use your resources more effectively and maximize your fundraising potential year after year.
Final considerations for crafting a year-end fundraising campaign plan
A year-end fundraising communication plan is a critical component of your nonprofit's fundraising efforts. Remember to take the time to strategize and reflect upon your past performance. Doing so will help you inspire more action from your donors and reach your fundraising goals at the end of the year.