Fall is here! It’s time to plan your year-end fundraising campaign. 30% of annual giving occurs in December so you want to be sure you’re ready to take full advantage of the opportunity to connect when folks are feeling the most generous.
The hard work begins NOW and runs till the end of the year. As you prepare you will want to ensure a mailed appeal will be in the hands of your supporters by Thanksgiving followed by a series of emails and social media posts for December. 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year so don’t let up in those final few days!
Let’s take a look at a sample Annual Appeal Timeline. (That you can still accomplish!)
|September 1||Initial brainstorm meeting – select a theme|
|September 10||Create Timeline and draft a donor segmentation|
|October 17||Draft letter|
|October 21||Meet with graphic designer and draft design for annual appeal|
|October 28||Finalize letter draft|
|October 28||Review Segmentation Chart|
|October 31||Secure a match for the annual appeal|
|November 4||Printer to have all remit forms and envelopes ordered|
|November 9||Segment database list and mailing list spreadsheets for review|
|November 14||Review list and purge unwanted constituents|
|November 18||Meet with internal committee and finalize lists, design, and prepare for printer|
|November 18||Draft social media schedule and posts beginning at Thanksgiving – Year end|
|November 21||Send packaged file to the printer with database list|
|November 28||Begin sending thank you notes to donors|
|November 30||Draft and Produce Thank You Letters and inserts|
|December 2||Assign follow-up calls to Board and Development staff for constituents who’ve not yet given (calls continue until year-end)|
|November 29||Giving Tuesday email to segmented donor lists|
|December 6||Giving reminder email #2|
|December 12||Giving reminder email #3|
|December 15||Meeting with Board and Development staff to follow up with donors who gave last year but not this year yet|
|December 27||Giving reminder email #4|
|December 29||Giving reminder email #5 – time is running out!|
|December 31||Giving reminder email #6 – final chance to donate!|
|January 5||Thank you email and update to all constituents|
Core Components of Annual Appeal
Take a look at our blog post here to create an attention-grabbing annual fundraising campaign! Create a personal appeal focused on the donor in a concise way. One page is a great length, but some stories take a little longer to tell. If you decide to make your fundraising letter longer than one page, be sure donors know what actions you want them to take by the end of the first page.
Include the following elements in your letter:
- Address the problem – can you make it seem real and relevant to the prospective donor?
- Outline the solution you’re proposing to address the problem.
- Specifically show how the donor can help you accomplish that solution by outlining the purpose and the amount of the gift you’re requesting.
**TIP: Don’t repeat what you wrote last year. Communicate your specific needs this year and why your services are more important than ever!
Draft a Segmentation Chart
You’ll always get your best results when you personalize your appeal and show your donors you are thinking about them. Consider dividing your list into segments based on how they are affiliated with your organization or how much they donate each year. Consider how you are segmenting your list to better personalize your appeal to each group. Once you’ve segmented your list, you can tailor your appeal letter appropriately.
**TIP: Just little tweaks in your letter can make a big impact! Something as simple as “As a board member, you understand the impact of our mission more than most!” If you can acknowledge any connection in the letter it will make a big difference!
**TIP: If you segment your list based on the donors giving history you can suggest donation amounts based on their giving history. For example, for larger donors, you may ask for a specific amount or is greater than what they gave previously.
Create a visually appealing campaign
Create something eye-catching! It is important to stand out from a crowded giving season to ensure your letter does not get lost in the shuffle. Try something branded or pop with a colored envelope. Create a stylized letter with lots of white space, larger font, and photos to keep the reader’s attention after opening the letter.
**TIP: Determine in advance whether you have visuals to illustrate your story. If not, try to get photos or videos that represent your ask! Using photos or videos throughout the month of December on social media will help grab the attention of your donors.
Plan Ahead for Segments
In the best of all possible worlds, every donor would get a hand-delivered letter. However sadly that is not possible, so segmenting your mailing list into different levels of personalization and follow up will help ensure you are the most efficient with your time this giving season. Segmenting your list in the beginning can help you and your development committee track which segment performed best and which strategies work.
**TIP: Be mindful of the emails you are sending and update the list to discard people who have already donated. Do not continue sending them request emails but rather thank them for their gift and wish them Happy Holidays!