A Smarter Way to Fundraise: Explore Classy’s Fundraising Intelligence Suite

Your Checklist to Organize the Most Impactful End-of-Year Fundraising Plan

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Published September 25, 2023 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The last few months of the year can be chaotic. Businesses aim to capitalize on holiday shopping, and nonprofits turn up marketing dials hoping to meet annual donation goals. Together, these nonprofit and for-profit messages command inboxes, social media feeds, and the local event scene.

What you need to navigate these times is an organized end-of-year fundraising plan. It’ll give you a strategy to execute and a checklist to ensure it gets completed—and we have just the thing.

Our year-end fundraising checklist helps you plan and manage comprehensive fundraising campaigns at scale. From setting goals to creating campaign follow-ups, we’ll provide you with all the tips and reminders to get ready for the most lucrative time of the year.

Want a downloadable PDF version of this checklist? Access it here.

Why You Need an End-of-Year Fundraising Plan Checklist

A year-end fundraising plan checklist should be a nonnegotiable part of your strategy. It ensures you plan effectively, maximize opportunities, and make the most of this critical part of the fundraising year.

Here are a few reasons why all nonprofits should leverage a checklist:

  • Strategic planning: Create a systematic plan rooted in qualitative and quantitative data to achieve your fundraising goals.
  • Time management: Manage your team’s fundraising efforts efficiently, ensuring completion of all necessary tasks before the end of the year.
  • Maximizing opportunities: Take advantage of the giving spirit and increase funds raised.
  • Donor engagement: Engage with your donor base before, during, and after the fundraising campaign with an intentional outreach strategy.
  • Benchmarking: Build a plan, evaluate your progress, and make improvements next year to ensure sustainable growth.
  • Resource allocation: Manage your financial, human, and technological resources effectively to prevent waste and duplicated efforts.

Your Year-End Fundraising Checklist

Our end-of-year fundraising plan focuses on three core steps: plan, execute, and follow up.

Below, we’ll walk you through each stage in more detail with step-by-step checklist items for you to prioritize.

Plan

The planning process is critical to setting smart goals, outlining specific fundraising and outreach tactics, and aligning your team around timely best practices for your year-end efforts. Depending on the scale of your campaign, you’ll likely want to start the planning process a few months in advance. Our recommended timeline is in this Giving Tuesday checklist.

You have campaigns to create, messaging to fine-tune, landing pages to build—it’s a lot. Get ahead of the season so that nothing feels rushed or out of control when November and December finally arrive.

  • Evaluate last year’s performance: Analyze quantitative metrics and qualitative feedback to find resources to repurpose, mistakes to avoid, and a balanced focus.
  • Establish the campaign’s focus: Describe what you want to achieve, including the donation amount, number of new donors, recurring donations, brand awareness, or number of people helped.
  • Describe your mission: Create a powerful, concise campaign mission statement with fundraising appeals to share in your communications to motivate supporters to give.
  • Build your timeline: Assign due dates and owners for each task (and subtask) to ensure you’ve covered all deliverables and considered your team’s bandwidth during this busy time of year.
  • Segment your donors: Create lists of donor groups (like individual donors, major gift donors, current donors, recurring donors, etc.) and format a customized call to action (CTA) for each group.
  • Gather assets: Create or collect imagery, video, copy, and other design aspects you’ll use throughout your campaigns.

Execute

While you might want to focus your launch around Giving Tuesday, you’ll likely need to prep your audience and donors beforehand.

Here are the elements and tactics to include in your campaign to avoid hiccups:

Communications

Communication might be the most critical aspect of your entire campaign. Your well-thought-out strategy or donation site won’t matter if nobody knows about it.

  • Remind supporters to save the date: Send a message in October to notify donors of your campaign launch date and build excitement.
  • Use various channels: Take advantage of SMS, email, direct mail, social media, messaging applications, and phone calls. Every donor is different, so cater to each person’s specific preferences.
  • Build in enough time for direct mail: Maintain your campaign branding through all printed assets and include the URL or a QR code that takes supporters directly to your campaign page.
  • Send more than one appeal: Stay top of mind during the busy holiday season by posting and messaging your donors frequently. You should also segment your list so previous givers don’t get bombarded with additional asks once they donate.

Campaign Page

The campaign page is where the conversion magic happens. Your compelling email or social media post inspired a donor to get to this point, but now it’s up to your campaign page to get them to the finish line and secure the donation.

  • Stick to your launch date: Don’t get caught up in the minutiae of your campaign page at the expense of your launch date—you can continue to edit and update it once published.
  • Transform your Giving Tuesday campaign for year-end: Use one campaign page for all your end-of-year fundraising by updating the branded elements (like photos, colors, and tagline) from Giving Tuesday to a more general giving season theme. You’ll also need to make a plan for when and how this transition will occur (and who’s responsible).
  • Make it personal: Customize your campaign page with visual storytelling elements (like impact blocks, photos from the field, etc.) to engage potential donors. You should also consider creating multiple landing pages to appeal to various donor demographics.
  • Prioritize data: Track measurable elements (like click-through rate on your donation form) to establish a benchmark for next year. This helps you measure and improve everything from the headlines to the colors of your CTA buttons.

Follow Up

According to Classy’s State of Modern Philanthropy report, nonprofits on Classy acquire 12x more donors on Giving Tuesday compared to an average day of the year. Turn these new donors into lifelong supporters by initiating a strong donor stewardship strategy immediately following the rush of the giving season.

  • Say thank you again: Send a second personalized thank you note for each donation separate from the automated email and donation receipt sent out after you receive a donation.
  • Finish the story: Let your donors know what they helped accomplish. Pull the numbers, demonstrate impact, and share beneficiary stories.
  • Segment donor thank you messages: Approach your follow-up segmentation the same way as appeals. For example, major donors should receive a phone call, a handwritten note, or other form of special acknowledgment to show gratitude for their extreme generosity.

Best Practices and Tips

This end-of-year fundraising plan checklist will keep you on track as you plan, execute, follow up, and evaluate your giving season campaigns. However, there are a few key best practices and tips to follow to improve your success and optimize the fundraising experience.

Adopt a comprehensive fundraising platform

Choose a fundraising platform that offers customizable donation sites, optimized donation forms, comprehensive recurring donation options, and seamless integrations with access to all the marketing, customer relationship management, and analytics tools you need to execute your most impactful campaign yet.

You’ll also need a powerful fundraising event solution to offer hybrid and in-person event opportunities to help strengthen your supporters’ connection to your cause.

Classy can help power your fundraising campaigns and events from start to finish, with Classy coaches and customer success experts on standby to bring your goals to fruition. Learn how.

Thank you, Classy! Our Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising campaigns were beyond successful and helped us reach our Q4 fundraising goals. We appreciate the wonderful features in Classy and the excellent service your team consistently gives to Atlanta Habitat. We recommend Classy highly!

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

Perform a campaign evaluation

Analyze your campaign’s performance to see what went well (and what didn’t). Then, compile your learnings and make plans for how you’ll improve next year.

Feature the impact of your year-end campaign

Let your organization, nonprofit board members, volunteers, donors, and partners know the impact of your campaign. You can showcase the tangible impact by sharing success stories, testimonials, and concrete examples of how donations have made a difference. Then, use visuals, like photos and videos, to illustrate the outcomes of donor contributions and emphasize the importance of continued support.

Get organized and stay organized

Keep your folders and assets organized to streamline the process next year. You’ve done the hard work of getting organized for this campaign—don’t let it go to waste. Treat your end-of-year campaigns as a never-ending part of your annual fundraising plan. The seasonal wave of giving might lighten in December, but it’s time to start getting ready for next year.

Host virtual or hybrid events

Plan and execute engaging virtual or hybrid fundraising events to connect with donors and supporters. Consider hosting a 5K charity run, winter gala fundraiser, webinars, livestreams, or online panels related to your cause. Then, promote these events through your website, social media, and nonprofit newsletters to attract participants and encourage donations. Learn how you can build unforgettable hybrid and virtual fundraising events with Classy Live.

Classy Live is the best way to recreate the benefits of an in-person experience in a virtual environment for a truly engaging event.

African Community Education (ACE)

Simplify the checkout process

Ensure donors receive the most efficient checkout process by offering embedded giving. We found that Classy customers using an embedded checkout form during the giving season saw up to 28% improvement in revenue per site visitor.

Bring Your Year-End Giving Campaigns to Life

You have the plan and the checklist—now you need a fundraising platform to make your campaign a reality. Classy’s comprehensive product suite provides all the fundraising tools and features you need to execute top-notch fundraising campaigns at scale.

Whether hosting an epic gala on Classy’s virtual fundraising events platform, enabling recurring giving to inspire donors to strengthen their impact, or empowering your supporters to fundraise on your behalf through a seamless peer-to-peer fundraising platform, we have what you need.

Schedule a demo with a Classy expert to see how our solutions can transform your nonprofit organization’s end-of-year fundraising.

Copy Editor: Ayanna Julien

campaign checklist

Get the PDF: Your Year-End Fundraising Checklist

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