Five tips for strong year-end campaigns

November 10, 2014

With the critical year-end giving season upon us, now is the time to plan not only for what you’ll launch, but also for how you’ll launch it. Check out these strategies to help keep your year- end results on track.

Cut the clutter – Trees… lights… snowflakes… bows… glitter… sparkle… with holiday decorating on the horizon, it’s tempting to give your year-end appeals a similar treatment. But dusting your campaign with holiday cheer runs the risk of hiding your important, urgent, passionate message, distracting people from the task at hand – their contribution to your organization. The greatest revenue is nearly always derived from bold, simple design accompanied by direct, clear, action-oriented messages.

Don’t overdo taxes – At year end, your organization is steep in competition with a multitude of other organizations that also receive support from your donors. And your donors almost certainly know that the tax deadline is fast approaching. So instead of taxes, focus on your difference. Help people understand how your organization is special, distinct and ultimately worthy of an important year-end gift.

Find the “why – Behind every contribution stands a motivation. And motivations are built on feelings: a desire to take responsibility – the chance to seize opportunity – the importance of taking a stand – a wish to change a life or make the world a better place. Motivations also come from perceived outcomes: Keeping it strong – building something bigger – becoming a part of it – more or better service. As you develop key messages to celebrate the year that was and look forward to the year to come, find as many ways as possible to share the “why” with passion and conviction.

Face forward – Effective fundraising is about funding the possibilities for the future, not paying off the debts of the past. If your organization faces an uphill climb to meet a steep year-end goal, or is behind target for the year, resist crafting your messaging around this idea unless it truly is a dire scenario for the organization. While such messages of concern may truly inspire a handful of “saviors” to take action, it’s likely that it will raise more questions than inspire gifts. “Why are they behind? Are they doing something wrong? Do not enough people care? If no one else is donating maybe I shouldn’t either.” Instead, set the goal you need and launch it in an open, urgent and positive way right on through December 31. People want to back a winner.

Save the stunts – People are already primed to give during the holiday season. All they need at this time of year is your compelling appeal and easy-to-navigate online and mobile giving form. What they don’t need now is big challenges, goal countdowns, numerous gifts or incentives, or any manner of stunts we use across the year to boost revenue and participation. Save the stunts for times when they’ll make the greatest difference – when it’s much more difficult to raise funds. Right now, make sure you’re there at every possible turn in every possible way with a direct, heartfelt and motivational appeal.

The bottom line:

  • Be passionate about your role in making the world a better place
  • Be direct in your requests for support
  • Work as a team to build a powerfully persuasive case
  • Never stop asking
  • Never stop appreciating

P.S. Do this all year round!

This post was originally published by Greater Public, providing leadership to sustain public media nationwide.