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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

How to Prepare Your Year End Giving Campaign

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

This is a guest blog by Meredith Gray, Senior Marketing Manager at Keela

End of year is a time for family, friends, and food. With donors getting into the holiday spirit, it’s also the most important time of year for fundraisers. With over 30% of annual charitable giving coming in in the month of December and 10% of that giving coming in in the last 3 days of the year, year end giving campaigns are critical to meet your annual fundraising goals.

From Giving Tuesday through to New Year’s Day, a strong year end giving campaign will tell stories related to your mission, steward and thank your supporters and help you cross the finish line when it comes to your revenue goals. This article will walk you through the necessary steps to maximize your fundraising efforts and raise more through your campaign.

1. Review Previous Year-End Fundraising Campaigns

Before you start working on this year’s campaign, it’s important to reflect on how you did in years past. Data is a powerful tool, and by doing an analysis of what was effective or ineffective in the past, you can save time and resources on your upcoming campaign.

Start by pulling all donor information from your previous campaigns to understand who has given to you in the past. This should include contact information and giving amount to determine your strongest prospects. By understanding your previous donors, you can start building your list for this year and look for opportunities to engage new supporters with similar demographic details through your messaging and geo-targeting.

Next, you will want to look at the metrics from your last campaign. Analyzing metrics such as email click-throughs and open rates, social media engagement and direct mail response will help you build your messaging based on what resonated the strongest with your donors in previous years.

2. Examine Your Current Situation

Once you have reviewed your metrics from past campaigns, it’s time to understand your current state and look at what you have at your disposal to run your new campaign.

Start with your current financial information and ask yourself a few key questions that will guide your planning.

  • Have your finances changed since your last campaign?

  • How much budget do you have to invest this year?

  • How close are you to hitting your revenue targets for the year?

The answers to those questions will help you set ambitious yet achievable targets for your campaign. Don’t forget that every goal you set should follow the S.M.A.R.T model (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).

3. Choose Your Theme, Messaging, and Segments

Remember when we told you to look at your past messaging? Well, it’s about to come in handy! By understanding what messaging has resonated with your donors in the past, you can start crafting similar content for your upcoming campaign. Your theme and messaging will tie everything together and create awareness for your campaign across different channels.

Storytelling is one of the most important parts of a good fundraising campaign. Look within your community to find champions that will share their story and inspire donors to give then consider how you want to structure your campaign to be the most impactful. Some of the strongest campaigns tell the story from the perspective of a person within their community, some find it effective to have the message delivered by their CEO. Decide what will resonate the most with your community and pen your communications from that person.

Every campaign needs a strong call to action (CTA). Your CTA is what you’re asking your donors to do after seeing your campaign. Tying your call to action back to a strong impact statement will help donors understand the power of their gift.

Once you have your messaging and your CTA, you need to determine your audience. Start by looking at your segments from previous campaigns. Were they effective? If not, it’s time to create new ones! Look at your donor data to determine your segments and personalize your content as much as possible for each group.

4. Choose Your Channels and Timeline

When considering your campaign timelines and channels, it’s important to look at your highest grossing revenue days from last year’s campaign and the channels that brought you the most success. The holidays can be a busy time, so it’s not a bad idea to keep the campaign running into early January to see those last-minute donors come in.

Start by choosing your kick-off and end dates. Your year-end fundraising campaign should last no longer than 6 weeks and should leverage nearly every channel you have. It’s always a good idea to think of Giving Tuesday as your kick-off point, and then keep the momentum going.

Next you’re going to choose your channels. Your campaign should use a multi-channel approach and should use the channels that make the most sense for your intended audience. When choosing your channels, consider the size and engagement of the audiences on each of your channels.

Finally, it’s important to build your integrated strategy and set KPIs for each channel. By using a combination of email marketing, direct mail, social media, your website, and phone calls, not only are you expanding your audience, but you’re also creating opportunities for your prospects to see your campaign more than once, increasing the chances that they will take action.

5. Craft Your Ask and Send It Out

This is where the magic happens. Crafting and sending the donation ask is arguably the most important part, but if you have followed the steps in this blog, you have everything you need to create an impactful ask for your multi-channel campaign!

Make sure to keep your ask donor-centric and clearly articulate the impact that the donor will have by making a gift to your campaign. Have clear ties to tangible ways in which they are making a difference.

Make sure you include a creative element to your ask. Visual content, such as photos and videos, are much more effective than long text. Keep your text minimal and make sure to include photos and videos where possible.

You’ve already developed your CTA, now it’s time to make it clear by placing it in a prominent location that draws the reader’s eye. To accompany your CTA, consider providing suggested donation levels. Take a look at the information from your last campaign and see if there are certain levels that come up frequently. If the majority of your donors gave $50, create a suggested giving amount of $60 to increase the average gift size. Don’t forget to tie an impact statement to each of your giving levels.

Finally, look for opportunities in your systems to automate as many things as possible. By pre-scheduling emails and setting up automatic tax receipts, you can save valuable time that can be invested elsewhere.

6. Measure and Analyze

We tend to want to leave the campaign analysis until the end, we get it, however, tracking throughout your campaign allows you to be nimble and invest more in the things that are working.

Remember those KPIs you set for each of your channels? It’s time to use them! At least weekly, you should be reviewing these KPIs and pulling the necessary data to make sure you’re on track to achieve them.

It’s also a good idea to do regular check-ins on your channels. If you are noticing some of your channels are performing better than others, consider changing your strategy and leaning in more on your most effective channels.

7. Thank, Thank, Thank

Donor stewardship is one of the most important parts of your campaign and will lead to an increase in donor retention. With the automation we touched on earlier, your thank you emails and tax receipts should be fully automated, but there are a few other personal touches you can do to make your donors feel valued.

Call Large Donors

What is considered a “large” donation will look different for each nonprofit, but calling your top campaign donors just to say thank you and share the impact of their gift will encourage them to give again.

Publicly Recognize Significant Donors

Look for opportunities to publicly recognize your most supportive donors, top donors, repeat donors, etc. That could be through a donor recognition wall on your website, through a social post or in a dedicated thank you email after the campaign.

Thank Everyone and Share the Results

Every channel you used should include a thank you message after your campaign. Putting together an email, social post and impact report and sending it out to all donors is a great way to share your overall results.


A year-end fundraising campaign is one of the most important initiatives a nonprofit will tackle. It requires planning, commitment, flexibility and an all-star team! This blog is designed to be combined with your creativity to put together an impactful and revenue driving campaign!


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