Each November and December, fundraisers at nonprofits large and small are consumed by the End-of-Year (EOY) giving season. In these two months alone, many organizations raise as much as 30% of their annual philanthropic income. With so much revenue at stake, it’s critical to be prepared with a comprehensive campaign plan that positions you to meet your EOY fundraising goals.
All EOY campaigns that successfully meet their goals share something in common: they work the process. There are six distinct but overlapping phases of campaign planning, and by taking the time to work fully through each phase, you’ll ensure your campaign is optimally designed to engage, inspire, and retain your donors.
Phase 1: Preparation
The preparation phase for an EOY campaign should begin early, preferably in August and no later than early September. This is the part of the process where you lay the cornerstones of your campaign, including your total fundraising goal, your case for support and campaign theme, and your donor segments.
To determine these pieces, you need to rally your team. Your campaign preparation sessions should involve representation from across your organization, such that your colleagues in leadership roles, programming, and communications all know how they can contribute to the campaign.
Finally, a key element of the preparation phase is to double-check all your systems and software, such as your donation page, CRM, and your gift processing procedures.
Phase 2: Scheduling
Closely tied into the preparation phase is scheduling. This part of the process is when you determine what campaign communications will deploy when, and through which channels. This is your key opportunity to strategize the multichannel cohesion of your campaign, such that your social media is reinforcing the case for support that donors see via email that they first read about in your direct mail letter.
Phase 3: Content Development
Once your communications schedule is squared away, the next phase is to actually write and design your content. In the content development phase of campaign planning, you need to construct the master narrative of your campaign, along with the specific stories that pull that narrative forward. Your content will need to be tailored to your different donor segments on different channels, as well as balance cultivation versus solicitation messaging.
Phase 4: Launch/Execution
Launching your campaign is a celebratory moment in the process. It also marks a new phase for your work, as the bulk of your attention should shift to monitoring the campaign’s execution in real-time and figuring out how to double-down on successful calls-to-action. Campaign execution is also about monitoring donors and ensuring that donors who have given are quickly removed from future solicitations and you focus your communication with them on stewardship.
Phase 5: Stewardship
Donor stewardship is often an underappreciated phase of EOY campaigns, but it is absolutely critical because it’s how you cement your relationship with donors. The stewardship phase of your campaign should start as soon as solicitations do, and it should include a robust calendar of outreach and appreciation.
Phase 6: Evaluation
The last phase of any EOY campaign needs to be evaluation, which is often forgotten once the rush of campaign execution is over. Evaluation is important, however, because it’s when you take a beat to identify and record your lessons learned, your successes, your flops, and your experiments worth repeating. What you learn through evaluation is what you begin building on for next year’s campaign.
To learn more about strategizing a successful EOY campaign and the details of each campaign phase, join us on August 30th for Candid’s webinar “Preparing for EOY Success.”