13 Steps to The Perfect Year-End Giving Campaign in 2022

13 Steps to The Perfect Year-End Giving Campaign in 2022

year end giving

Year-end giving is a great opportunity for nonprofits to meet their fundraising goals.

Approximately 31% of all annual giving occurs in December and approximately 12% of all annual giving occurs in the last three days of December. 28% of nonprofits raise between 26 – 50% of their annual funds for their year-end ask.

This is why the year-end giving season is a big deal.

Between deciding which channels to use, which donor segments to focus on, and creating all the fundraising materials and tools – crafting and executing a good year-end fundraising campaign can be complex.

Luckily, there’s a ton of information out there to help you connect to your donors and meet your fundraising goals. To make sure you’re making the most of your year-end appeal, we’ve created this guide. We also had this webinar session recently where nonprofit experts, Jena Lynch and Cara Augspurger discussed how to plan and create the most successful year-end giving campaign. Give it a watch to know fundraising fundamentals, essential tips and tricks, and tools for ending your year with tons of donations!

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How to Nail The End of Year Fundraising Campaign in 2022 (Step-by-Step)

  1. Start Planning Early
  2. Review Your Last Year-End Giving Campaign
  3. Look At Where You’re At
  4. Set Goals
  5. See What You Have
  6. Figure Out The Big Picture & The Team
  7. Think About Your Audience
  8. Decide on Theme and Messaging
  9. Create Your Timeline
  10. Make the Ask
  11. Follow Through
  12. Thank, Thank, Recognize
  13. Measure and Analyze


Step 1: Start Planning Early

Approximately 52% of nonprofits start planning their year-end ask in October. It makes sense to start planning early if you want to ensure the success of your year-end campaign – especially since so many fundraising appeals go out at the same time (which can overwhelm donors and staff).

It also makes sense to plan early so that you can prepare all the tools needed to accomplish your objectives. For eg. –

September is the ideal time to start planning your end-of-year giving campaign.


Step 2: Review Your Last Year-End Giving Campaign

Before you start working on your 2022 campaign, review your 2021 efforts. Sometimes, this is the most important step a nonprofit can take when planning its year-end campaign. Data can be a powerful guide as to what direction your organization should take and which tools to use.

It’s smart to, at this point, refresh your memory:

  • How did the last year’s campaign go?
  • How much was raised? Who contributed?
  • Was this above or below the expected?
  • What went really well? What didn’t? Why?
  • Which strategies and tactics did your supporters respond to?
  • Which ones weren’t successful?

If you have time, it could be helpful to also review how those 2021 funds helped further your nonprofit mission in 2022.

If possible, get as many relevant stakeholders as possible on board with this review. Discuss successes and challenges, and brainstorm how to do better this year. How will you surmount the challenges this time around?

This will provide a solid foundation for 2022 year-end giving.


Step 3: Look At Where You’re At

Once you reviewed the things of the past, it’s time to take a look at where you’re at in this present moment.


3.1. Fiscal Situation

How’s your budget? How has the financial situation changed since last year’s year-end giving? How close are you to meet your financial goals for this year?

Understanding where you are finances-wise can help your nonprofit team set realistic but inspiring goals and understand which strategies to employ (e.g. how much money is available to invest in year-end fundraising).

You can also use this information to phrase your fundraising appeals.


3.2. State of Operations

In addition to looking at your fiscal situation, take some time to look at the overall state of your nonprofit. How close are you to achieving all of your goals? Which programs are doing really well? In which areas are you lagging behind?

This can help you have a clearer perspective on your year-end fundraising. 


Step 4: Set Goals

To succeed and progress, nonprofit organizations must set specific, incremental goals and stay resilient and keep themselves accountable.

One of the most popular goal-setting methods is the SMART method. In 1981, George Duran outlined a helpful objective-setting system in his article, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.”  Since 1981, variations of the SMART model have made their way into organizations, businesses, schools, and even into the personal development arena.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific – The goal should deal with a specific area of performance or a specific KPI.
  • Measurable – The goal should be measurable, not subjective.
  • Attainable – The goal should be ambitious, but remaining within the realm of possibility.
  • Relevant – The goal should be connected to the overall mission and vision of the organization.
  • Time-bound – The goal should have a deadline.

Set SMART goals for your end-of-year giving campaign. Setting SMART goals helps your nonprofit have clarity, stay on track, and it aids the staff to stay motivated and on track. As you finalize your goals, highlight the fundraising goal on your online giving page. It helps educate people on how much you need and also creates a sense of urgency among them to help you meet the goal.  Look at how For The Love of Alex Inc. has highlighted their fundraising goal as well as met it successfully in the below year-end campaign.

year end giving

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Step 5: See What You Have

Now that you are familiar with the last year’s campaign and you have a clearer idea of where you’re at as an organization, you can start planning the 2022 year-end giving the campaign.

Before you start brainstorming ideas for activities and tactics, it’s good to recap which resources you have access to at the moment.

  • Recap your goals (from Step 4). What amount of money are you hoping to fundraise?
  • What’s your budget for this campaign?
  • How much time do you have?
  • How many people can and will be working on the end-of-year giving campaign?
  • Which materials can be reused?
  • Can your Board help?
  • What about your volunteers?

Once you have a better idea of what you have at your disposal, you’ll be able to create a more informed and realistic plan to get all those end-of-the-year donations flowing in. 


Step 6: Figure Out The Big Picture & The Team

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the activities (e.g. designing your social media posts or creating a promo video), it’s helpful to look at the scope of your campaign – to figure out the big picture.

  • Who are you trying to reach? Why?
  • Where are you going to find them?
  • How long will your campaign last?
  • What is success to you? How are you going to track it?
  • Who is on the campaign team? What are their main responsibilities?

Again, don’t go into too many details just yet (we’re getting to that). This step is only meant to provide an overview of your end-of-year giving campaign. 


Step 7: Think About Your Audience

In order to execute the most effective and successful year-end campaign possible, you’ll need to think about your audience first.

It’s impossible to craft a good message if you don’t know who the message is addressed to.

Pro tip: Before the campaign officially launches, you’ll want to have your ‘thank you’ materials ready to go for later.


7.1. Create Donor Segments

To craft a really good message, your supporters should feel like you’re in their shoes – like you’re speaking directly to them and their experience. However, it’s not realistic for any organization to create individual messages for every single donor and supporter.

This is why it’s essential to segment your audience. Audience segmentation basically means that you’re dividing your donors into groups based on their behavior or traits. There are many different ways in which you can segment donors. How much segmentation you’ll do will depend on the resources you have at your disposal (primarily time and human resources available).

For example, you can segment your audience into three main groups: current donors, lapsed donors, and prospective donors. You can also segment your donors based on gift sizes.

Use your existing data to make your appeal sound like it was written just for each reader.

For example, you can include constituent data (like names, last gift amounts, or last gift date) to let your donors know that you care about them.

To do this, having a donor management system is essential. Donorbox Donor Management lets you segment donor records based on a number of filters such as locations, donation amounts, donation frequency, campaign, time-frame, and more and personalize your messages accordingly.

year end giving

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7.2. Identify Target Donors

Many nonprofits, during this process, choose to identify big donors (those who have given large gifts in the past). However, it is a good idea to also reach out to donors who usually give in smaller amounts. For such donors, you should ideally run a crowdfunding campaign. The whole idea of crowdfunding depends on meeting a fundraising goal based on small donations from a crowd of people. Nonprofits that have a lot of such donors should definitely opt for this fundraising method.

Donorbox Crowdfunding lets you create a crowdfunding page and add the essential elements of success to it. These elements include an updates tab, a virtual donor wall, a popup donation form, a subscribe button for potential donors and visitors, social media sharing buttons, ability to send emails to subscribers, and a goal thermometer. You can also add images and videos to the campaign description for more effectiveness. Here’s an example from last year’s year-end crowdfunding campaign. With just about 100 donors, they were able to raise $20,000+ in donations.

year end giving campaign

Start a Year-End Crowdfunding Campaign

Not only that, the above organization also turned on peer-to-peer fundraising for this crowdfunding campaign. This helped them further boost donations. It’s rather simple with Donorbox Peer-to-Peer. Just toggle a switch on an existing campaign to enable this feature and invite your supporters (volunteers, board members, donors, staff members, friends, and family) to fundraise. They receive email invitations to sign up and be guided on the tool to create their own fundraising pages, as shown below.

Try Donorbox Peer-to-Peer

So you see targeting the right audience has many perks. Some will make donations while also getting you more donations from their networks (and new donors!).

Who you target will vary based on your current donor base, the local community, and your potential-donor research. So will vary the type of campaign you should have. You will have to personalize your communications accordingly and reach out to each type of donor with the right suggested donation amount. Read on to learn more on this. 


Step 8: Decide on Theme and Messaging

Once you’ve figured out who you’re messaging, you can start creating your fundraising messages. Before you dive into creating these specific messages and targeted appeals, decide on your theme. Your campaign theme will tie everything together – it’s the narrative that will be present in all of your fundraising appeals. It’s what your campaign is about.

This is where storytelling will come in handy. As we’ve highlighted multiple times on our Nonprofit Blog here at Donorbox, people respond to people. And emotions trigger individuals and inspire giving. Think about how you’ll tell the story to incite giving this giving season.

Once you start working on the messages, remember to keep them short, clear, and interesting.

Your messages should always be about how donors will be making an impact, how they will be helping change lives, how their donations matter.

When you share stories, share stories of impact; and try to focus on a single individual who represents the beneficiaries you’re helping. It’s much easier for people to connect and empathize with a single individual than it is with a group.

Personalize your messages – letters, emails, thank-yous, surveys, every single communication piece. Address your donor by their name as you start writing your appeal letter. Mention how much they donated and specific impact that donation could help you make. As you make a donation appeal, mention suggested amounts that match their giving ability to make them feel comfortable. All this will ensure your appeals are effective in bringing in more donations. Remember to also personalize your scripts if you’re going to ask volunteers to make appeal calls. 


Step 9: Create Your Timeline

Audience – check!

Theme and messaging – check!

Now is the time to start working on that timeline. Your end-of-year giving campaign should last no longer than 6 weeks. It is true that #GivingTuesday extended the year-end giving period by a bit, so you can use it as a benchmark of when to start with the year-end campaign appeals. Here’s an example of an online fundraising campaign held in 2021. Giving based on this single day helped them not just meet the goal but go past it. Try it for your organization this year and see how your audience reacts to your first end-of-year campaign of 2022. This will also help you gauge their preferences and giving ability for the final end-of-year campaign.

year end donations

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It’s important to note that most giving happens in December (most of it in the last three days) – so have that in mind when creating your timeline. Naturally, you’re the one that knows your audience the best – so you will know which timeline will work best.

Our suggestion is to start off with Giving Tuesday and start getting your supporters excited about giving. If you’re worried that the Giving Tuesday campaign will distract from the year-end push – work through different channels and address different audiences. For example, you could promote your Giving Tuesday campaign solely through social media and exclusively to recurring donors with small gift sizes. Focusing on unengaged and low-end donors could help make sure that your target audience and your major donors are ‘saved’ for later.

The entire campaign team, if not the entire nonprofit team (depending on the size of your nonprofit), should have access to the year-end campaign timeline. Responsibilities and deadlines should be clearly indicated. Consider having weekly check-ins – daily towards the final push – to review progress and check-in.


Step 10: Make the Ask

Now is the time to select your communication channels. Depending on your target audience (Step 7) and the theme you decided to go for (Step 8), choose appropriate channels for delivering your end of a year fundraising appeal.

Here are a couple of communication channels you could consider:

  • Social Media
  • Phone
  • Mail
  • E-Mail
  • Events
  • In-person Meetings
  • Website
  • Letter

Whatever channel or combination of channels you end up choosing, triple-check they’re appropriate for your audience, and then start crafting the channel-specific asks.

Design KPIs (metrics) for each of the communication channels you selected so that you can measure success during and at the end of the campaign.

Main ingredients of a successful year-end ask –

  • Keep it donor-centric: This is not about your financial struggles, it’s about how the donor can help make an impact.
  • Keep it human: People respond to people, not organizations. Focus as much of your ask as possible on a single story.
  • Use the power of storytelling: Stories engage and evoke emotions. This inspires action – in this case, year-end donations.
  • Go visual: Visual content – like photos and videos – is much more effective than text in pulling the heartstrings.
  • Include a clear call to action: In most, if not all, messaging – include a clear call to action. This helps increase the number of donations.
  • Establish giving levels: It’s crucial to provide suggested giving levels to increase the likelihood that you reach your fundraising goals. Look at your past donations to see if there are certain levels that come up frequently and choose that as your suggested amount. However, always be sure to leave a blank amount for those supporters who would prefer to give a different amount. Include these levels in your donation form as well so when you redirect donors to the donation page, they can choose the amount and complete the donation. Here’s how Winter Growth Inc. does it with their year-end donation form.

year end donations

Create a Customized Donation Form

Pro tip: Make sure you create content for each communication channel. Don’t repurpose the same content and post it across all channels. For example, the type of content that’s successful on Instagram Stories is not the same one that you should put on flyers. This sounds obvious, but can be forgotten when the team is short on time or in a high-stress environment.

Most importantly –

Make sure your donation system and your donation page are in tip-top shape. With online giving increasing every year, your website will be the place many donors seek out to make their gifts. Your website and your donation page must be sleek, fast, responsive, and trustworthy.

Check out Donorbox, a state-of-the-art donation system that will make your year-end giving campaign run smoothly and effectively. Donorbox enables fast checkout, safe and secure giving, multiple payment methods, and so much more. With Donorbox, you can start your end-of-the-year online giving campaign including crowdfunding, text-to-give, peer-to-peer fundraising, online event-ticketing forms, etc.

Here’s an example of a year-end campaign page from 2021 for inspiration –

year end giving - Donorbox

Create a Customized Donation Page

Once you’ve selected your communication channels and crafted customized appeals, as well as creating most of the necessary content, make the ask! 


Step 11: Follow Through

The work doesn’t stop when you make the ask. After you sent out the initial year-end fundraising appeals, it’s time to start following through.

Donors need to be reminded throughout the campaign to donate. Include a call to action in every message you send out via your selected communication channels. However, pay attention to the number and frequency of your asks. Donors should be reminded, but not spammed. Some suggest a ratio of 5 to 1 (five ‘touches’ maximum towards one person) during the year-end campaign.

Again, you’ll know your audience best. Focus on those donor segments that are the most likely to give, and constantly measure (as much as possible) the return on investment of your efforts.

Start your follow-up soon after your audience has received the original appeal, and vary your follow-up appeals across multiple channels.

Continue your follow-up appeals throughout the rest of the campaign, even down to the last minute. Don’t become idle – a lot of donations pour on the very last day of the year! 


Step 12: Thank, Thank, Recognize

Ideally, you would have your ‘thank you’ materials created before the start of the campaign. There aren’t enough words to highlight the importance of thanking donors for their contributions. Thanking your supporters makes them feel valued and appreciated, and shows them that their actions have a positive impact – which is why many people donate.

Giving out thank-yous also increases the chances of donors coming back and donating again and helps set the foundation for strong and positive relationships with your donors. Donors that feel valued are also more likely to speak positively about your nonprofit and encourage their family and friends to donate too.

No matter the size of the gift, send a personalized thank you as soon as possible. This thank you should not include an additional ask. Instead, it should reiterate the impact of the donation and express gratitude.

You might also want to consider publicly recognizing your donors – either on social media or during various PR opportunities. This can be a tricky one because some donors would appreciate this and feel even more valued, while some would wish to stay more anonymous.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to thank your staff and volunteers too. They helped make everything happen, but can sometimes be left out of the thank-yous. End-of-year campaigning can be very labor-intensive and stressful, so you want to make them feel recognized and appreciated. Regardless of the results of the campaign, take some time to celebrate the hard work with your staff and volunteers. 


Step 13: Measure and Analyze

You’ve done it! Your year-end fundraising campaign is done. After a lot of hard work, you’re finally at the finish line.

You and your entire team must be tired and ready for a break – but there’s still an important step to complete.

Now that the campaign is over, you’ll want to:

  • Go through your KPIs and track results for each channel and each donor segment.
  • Answer: What went well? What didn’t? Why?
  • Update your donor management system to make sure all the donations and all the donors are properly recorded.
  • Answer: Which call to action was the most effective? What about the channel? Message? Why?

Once you reeled all the data in, you’ll want to debrief the results with your team and reflect on the campaign. Think about what you learned and what you can implement in the next year’s end-of-year campaign.

It’s important to have these findings, data, and discussions recorded in one way or another – so that they’re accessible for next year’s planning. This is how an organization learns and improves, and this is how you’ll become more successful each year.


Conclusion

The year-end campaign is one of the most important initiatives a nonprofit will tackle in any giving year. It requires planning, hard work, commitment, a lean and agile approach to work, learning fast, and listening to supporters and donors. Needless to mention, innovation, courage, and creativity.

End-of-year giving also requires a nonprofit team to come together and work on a common goal. It thrives on communication and transparency. It’s one of, if not the best opportunities to meet your nonprofit’s financial goals.

However, the year-end giving should not be solely relied on for meeting financial goals. Don’t wait until the end of the year to try and meet your fundraising goals in one go. It’s not only unrealistic but also creates a stressful environment for everyone involved. Keep your fundraising efforts steady and spread out throughout the year, and use the year-end campaign as a ‘cherry on the cake’.

Good luck from the Donorbox team! We hope that this guide will help you to outline and develop a year-end fundraising campaign that works for your nonprofit. If you need further help with your fundraising campaign, you’re just a click away from getting started for free! There’s no sign-up fee for Donorbox, no monthly contracts and need for documentation. Start fundraising in about 15 minutes from now!

Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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