Tips for End-of-Year Campaign Success
1. Plan — August
Identify your year-end campaign messages and schedule, looking at both online and offline. Find out dates of direct-mail drops, and lay out dates of events, etc. Revisit what giving programs you already have, and identify and book components. Where will promotions take place: Facebook or other social-networking site; homepage; e-mail/e-newsletters; and/or events? Be sure to book time in those channels.
2. Cultivate — September
Build an e-mail housefile of individuals committed to your mission early enough to gain loyalty in time for year-end programs. Carry out a stewardship campaign that reminds constituents of the value of your cause and their connection to your mission — use your annual report or quarterly reports, or a message from the board to back this up. Engage donors through surveys and petitions that get constituent attention and capture their commitment prior to the heavy donation series.
Send a cultivation e-mail that reports on successes and thanks constituents for their role in realizing successes. Follow that up by engaging constituents with programs that will carry through to the end of the year, creating "stickiness" through year-end. For pre-holiday engagement, send an initial holiday engagement campaign in November. Use it as a way to tee up support for your holiday campaign.
Build e-mails, forms and related pages that will be a part of your campaign.
3. Lock down — October
Focus on finalizing your production/editorial schedules; approving and proofing copy and design elements and campaign details; confirming giving-program availability (matching gifts, special gift membership benefits); preparing all pieces for fulfillment; getting direct-mail elements to the printer; discussing your internal calendar, i.e., who will be out and when during holidays throughout the month; and reach out to board members about the possibility of a matching-gift program as a part of the campaign.
4. Kick-off — November
- Kick off the campaign — direct mail, e-mails and stewardship pieces with donation asks.
- Schedule and timing. Send out a Thanksgiving feel-good "thank you" message. Be prepared to start asking for gifts after Thanksgiving, maybe as soon as Black Friday, as it's a good e-commerce opportunity.
- Launch. In the week preceding Thanksgiving, post preliminary site promotions, run Google ads and activate donation forms. Activate holiday initiatives the day after Thanksgiving. And Black Friday or Monday after Thanksgiving, drop the first e-mail in the series.
The presenters said that Thanksgiving cultivation e-mails should recap the year's accomplishments and feature a compelling story that resonates emotionally. Remember, you are setting the stage for the December giving campaign. Another strategy is an e-mail that sends holiday wishes and reminds recipients of your organization's mission.