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Tools for Planning and Tracking Your Year-End Appeal

Are you right in the thick of planning and executing your year-end fundraising appeal?

We know what you’re going through because we’ve been there. As fundraising staff, volunteers, and consultants we’ve lived through many (more than we’d like to count) year-end fundraising seasons.

You may already have started writing copy, designing e-mails, and lining up events, but do you have a plan for your year-end fundraising campaign? And have you committed that plan to paper to help you in analyzing this year’s results and planning next year’s?

If you do indeed have a documented plan for your year-end work, good for you! Read on and see if there is anything in this post you can add to it.

If, however, you have a set of activities that are not knitted together into a documented plan, we have some ideas for you.

First Do a Situation Analysis

While it may be a given that you have a year-end appeal, it’s critical to pause and see where you are in your fundraising before you plunge in. Consider the following questions:

  • What did you raise last year in your year-end appeal?
  • What’s your revenue budget this year?
  • What does your year-end appeal campaign need to raise to meet budget?
  • What other goals are you trying to reach with your year-end push?

Setting goals is very important, both to motivate donors and to track progress from year-to-year. You may also track things like: number of new donors, renewal rate, and numbers of upgrades.

Take Stock of your Resources

A year-end appeal is a group effort! ! You have more resources that you think. Some things to consider:

  • Staff and volunteers: How can they provide hands on deck?
  • Current donors: How can they serve as ambassadors to others?
  • Board members: How can they help amplify the message to their networks?
  • Newsletters, events, e-blasts: How can they get the word out?

You’ll also want to determine what budget you have to spend on this effort. Remember to put your investment in the things that have shown the best return.

Plan Out Your Constituencies and Channels

 Think about all your different donor and prospect groups and what communication channels work best to reach them.

Be sure to look carefully at how you will personalize messages to these constituencies:

  • Major donors
  • Volunteers
  • Lapsed donors
  • New donors
  • Board members

Consider every channel you have! A year-end appeal is so much more than just a letter. The letter is just one piece of what should be a full calendar of activity from now through the beginning of January that uses every available channel to get your organization’s share of the season’s giving.

Create Reports that Track Progress

 It’s critical that you create a report that tracks your progress this year, so you know how to plan for next year. Be sure to track for performance beyond revenue.

Consider a report that includes:

  • Response rate
  • Cost per dollar raised
  • Net income after expenses
  • Average gift

Analyze your results after your year-end appeal is over and definitely bring it out next year to kick off your planning.

We know what a critical time this is! We’ve created a Year-End Appeal Bundle that has worksheets and templates to document your year-end appeal plan, as well as a Year-End Appeal checklist that has been used and improved over the years.

If you’re looking for a way to get organized, our Year-End Appeal Bundle is for you. Here’s a link to check it out.  And as always, let us know what you think!

p.s. If you’re just looking to write your year-end appeal letter we have a FREE Year-End Appeal Outline in our Toolbox that you can use to get you started.

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