Take a moment to breathe–you’ve made it through another busy holiday season. If you’re like many nonprofits, year-end fundraising is both a critical and a crazy time for your organization.
A lot of effort goes into crafting and executing year-end campaigns. Though you may be finished promoting your 2017 holiday campaign, your work is far from over. Now that you’ve got some breathing room, it’s time to consider how your organization will handle the fundraising challenges of a new year.
First, make sure to wrap up your holiday campaign. Often gifts will continue to come in through January, so it may be difficult to immediately determine the outcome of last year’s campaign. When you’re able to compile the results, take some time to evaluate them. Your best direction for the year ahead is to look back at the past year.
Your first move with these results is to share them with your donors. You need to thank everyone who gave to your organization, and let them know what you accomplished.
Don’t try to evaluate the campaign on your own. Get your team together to discuss the past year. What did they like about how each campaign went? What takeaways did they have from the year as a whole? Now that things have slowed down, you can take time to talk through experiences and assess the results to be better prepared for future campaigns.
And don’t be afraid to look at negatives as well as positives. The only way to avoid the same pitfalls in a new year is to critically look at campaigns that performed poorly.
You’ve got an entire year ahead of you—how will you spend it?
Set Fundraising Goals
By identifying where you want to go now, you can stay on track to fulfill the goals you set this year. Identify what objectives you want to achieve and what specifically will allow you to achieve them. For instance, if you know you want to increase donor retention, also specify a percentage or number to increase it by. You can only achieve trackable growth if you have exact figures to evaluate and work towards.
Measure What You Need to Manage
It can’t be emphasized enough how important and valuable it is to take this time to measure your recently completed campaign results. Knowing fundamental metrics like money raised, donor count, average and median contribution per donor, cost per donation, and ROI, compared to previous years’ campaigns, and in relation to your goals, are all key decision-making measurements. If you applied an A/B split to your campaign, measuring the performance difference between the two mailings is why you invested in a split in the first place. Taking these measurements while a campaign is still fresh adds more value to planning your next campaign than trying to reconstruct data later on.
Continue Doing What Works
How often might we become distracted to think there’s a slicker, more innovative way to build upon current success. Not that looking for better, more creative, or technologically innovative ways to improve upon our fundraising isn’t a worthy pursuit. But if something’s working well, do more of it. And if you have a reliable approach that consistently works well, that’s the perfect environment to work in a different approach to test without swaying from what’s tried and true.
Develop 1 New Strategy
Over time, you’ve likely come across strategies you want to implement into your organization. But doing so takes time: time to learn a new system, time to put it into practice effectively, and time to make it useful for your donors. Now that you have time to consider your next step, list these strategies and pick one that you think you can reasonably incorporate into your fundraising this year. Since marketing strategies are constantly evolving, it may seem necessary to follow as many trends as possible. But it’s better to focus on one and master it than to spread your resources too thin.
Prepare for Events
Be conscious of what events you have planned to host or attend this coming year, and don’t try to squeeze in a lot of extras. One well-executed event can have more of an impact than three or four time consuming and hastily organized ones. Consider how you need to prepare. Do you need volunteers? Are you hoping to give away promotional items? Know your strategy early, so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute.
If your digital fundraising strategy is patchy or unsuccessful, make updating it a priority. Donors need to be able to find you on the web, and online donations are becoming increasingly popular. Also, 55% of people that engage with a nonprofit through social media end up taking action, whether by volunteering, donating, or sharing your message.
Create Content Consistently
It’s important that your audience hears from you on a regular basis. To keep them engaged, you’ll have to share a variety of content. It can seem daunting to frequently come up with new content. But you can employ different strategies to make the process easier. First, develop a content calendar for the year. When will you send direct mail? How often do you need to email? What blog posts will you publish? Then, look at content you’ve already created. Maybe you take an image or quote from a long-form blog post and use it in an email newsletter or social media post. If you have donors and followers, you’re likely already producing effective and compelling content. So, don’t forget about it—look at how you can re-purpose your past efforts to stay on track now.
This can be a good time to test new strategies. Do some A/B testing with your direct mail and marketing emails, to better understand what touches and compels your donors. Do certain images or words resonate more than others?
Run Other Campaigns
A holiday is a great theme to plan a campaign around, and luckily there are plenty of them throughout the year. While year-end appeals are important, as 1/3 of annual funds are raised during the month of December, don’t make that campaign your sole focus. A compelling message will have an impact at any time of the year. You can relate your mission to certain holidays to keep your donors excited and your message relevant.
Need help developing your fundraising strategy and materials? At Paw Print & Mail we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal services. Contact us today, and let us help you make 2018 your best year yet.
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