I know it seems too soon, but now is the time to start planning your year end fundraising strategy. Here's why: your donors need to be cultivated before you ask them to increase their gift at the year's end. (And, of course, your annual fund goal is higher this year than last year, right?!).
Here are some things to think about as you plan:
- Have you cleaned your list? Now is a good time to de-dupe and update addresses (email and snail mail)
- Do you want to segment? If you don't already have donor segments, consider thinking about tailoring your approach messages to different donor types. Higher dollar donors (not your major donors, but your highest annual fund donors) should get more personalized and high-touch outreach. Smaller dollar donors should get messages that tell an engaging story about your organization's impact as it relates to their interest in your work.
- Do you know why your donors give? A great way to engage and excite donors is to ask them why they support the organization. There are many ways to do this. The easiest is an online survey. Email it out early in the fall and then build your messaging around the responses. I recommend adding a social media component so that you can start a conversation with all of your donors, asking them to share why they give to your organization. This would also be a fun way to activate your Board of Directors -- make them social media ambassadors and early participants.
- What is your story? The key to successful giving campaigns is to connect to your donors' motivations and craft a narrative that aligns your mission with their motivation. Pictures and testimonials can aid in your storytelling.
- Are your campaign messages aligned with your organization's broader message strategy? Consult with the Communications Director. How can your campaign build on the messages that your organization has been using all year? How are these aligned with your donors' motivation? Consider involving the Communications Director in the process of developing your emails and mail pieces.
- What will your message schedule and marketing mix be? Think about combining email and snail mail in your year end campaign. Create a message/method calendar that outlines what your messages will be, when you will send emails, when you will send mail, and how all of it will be supported with social media. Also, consider having a feature on your website home page about your year-end campaign.
Here are some helpful resources to kickstart your planning and help you answer the above questions:
Year-end fundraising primers from Network for Good -- There is a focus on online giving but has many helpful tips for planning and strategy, as well.
Chronicle of Philanthropy has a great series now on storytelling. I recommend reading all of them if you have the time.
Check out Global Giving's Tools and Training Blog for helpful hints. Also, if you're looking for a great way to motivate donors, consider joining the Global Giving Open Challenge. The deadline for applying is October 24.