Happy August 1st!
Here in Colorado our kids are already getting ready to go back to school in August. It’s all about shifting from summer fun to getting on a schedule.
As a fundraiser, I’ve also felt this time of year was a time of transition, from a relatively quiet summer to the increasingly frenetic pace of the giving season. It’s also been a good time reflect and plan, particularly for the year-end appeal that can be so critical to budgetary success!
Before all the craziness begins, use this time to thoughtfully consider your year-end appeal plans.
Here are 5 steps you can take right now to get a head start:
Set goals and objectives:
Compare your fundraising results so far to your budget and see how much you need to raise from your annual appeal. You’ll also want to look at performance numbers from your last year-end campaign to determine what you did last year and where there are opportunities for improvement. Your previous results will help you to set the bar for this year. (See our Year-End Analysis worksheet in our free Toolbox for help with this.)
2 Set goals and objectives:
Once you’ve done this analysis, you are ready to set some goals and objectives around your year-end appeal. These don’t just have to be about the money! You should have objectives around response rates, renewal rates, and numbers of new donors as well.
3 Gather ideas for theme:
Every year-end appeal needs a unifying theme or story. Even if it’s just a “year in review” request for general operating funds. Start kicking ideas around with your program staff. What are they most concerned about? Where do they see opportunities to “move the needle”? What would they do if they had a bunch of money fall into their laps?
These questions help to get the information you need to frame any successful fundraising campaign. It’s not just about the great things your organization has accomplished. It’s about what donor contributions made possible and what could be done with more.
4 Collect stories and photos:
This is a great time to sit down with your communications staff and ask them about stories of impact they’ve heard, important news articles they’ve seen, and inspirational photos and video footage that could help to paint a picture for your donors.
Year-end appeals are more than just a letter. E-mail and social media play a big role in getting people to respond. The more personal, emotional, and inspirational you can make your request with images and testimonials, the better your campaign will do.
5 Segment, segment, segment:
Critical to the success of your annual appeal will be your ability to segment your donors into groups so that you can speak to them in as personal a way as possible. Most organizations create segments for major donors so that this group gets a more personal appeal that a $25 donor. Some organizations segment out volunteers so that their campaign message is tailored to their commitment to the organization. Organizations also specifically target donors who haven’t given in a while with a special message.
Your segments will depend on your fundraising strategy and your resources. While it would be great to speak to lots of groups of donors in a personal way, it does take time and additional funds to make it happen. Too many segments and you can drive yourself crazy!
What else are you doing to get ready for your year-end campaign? We’d love to add your plan of action on to the list!
p.s. You can get our FREE Year-End Appeal Bundle in our Toolbox, chock full of checklists, report templates, worksheets, and tips to get you going!