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The “Pick Three” Year-End Strategy 

The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner! For nonprofit staffers across the country (and around the world), Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising campaign planning is in overdrive. You may have noticed that recommendations are flooding the market: downloadable guides and campaign checklists, articles and reports speculating the latest trends, and more webinars than you could possibly attend and still get any reasonable amount of work done.

With so much to sift through, it can be quite overwhelming for a nonprofit fundraiser to determine the best approach for launching, supplementing, or improving these campaigns. Taking a fresh perspective, I’ve come up with a very simple and manageable way to select campaign elements that will help you focus on the most important components while considering a few “stretch” tactics to enhance your campaigns. I call it the Pick Three Strategy.

First, simply go through each of the three lists below and cross off what you’re already doing. Then, just like the lottery, “Pick Three.” Select one item from each of the three lists to add to your campaign efforts. If you’ve already implemented everything on the essential list, pick 3 from the others.

Essential Components

  • Donation Form Optimization – As outlined in the 8-Week Housecleaning Challenge, test your donation form and remove any unnecessary friction points. The goal is to ensure a smooth and efficient experience for your donor.
  • Landing Page with Branding – Create a landing page for your campaign with consistent logos and value proposition of your other marketing materials (emails, social, donation form, autoresponder) to ensure a consistent user journey.
  • Email Series – Map out a schedule of the emails you’ll be sending over the campaign time frame. This can include pre-promotion of Giving Tuesday along with the emails on and after, emails during the month of December and the series on the last few days of the year.
  • Social Media – Ensure your social media posting aligns with the email series and other marketing efforts.
  • Website Ads or Banners – Increase the visibility of your campaign by adding ads, banners or even popups to your website.
  • Spotlight Monthly Giving – Ensure that monthly gifts are front and center in your campaign materials. Emphasize the benefit to the donor as much as possible. (Example: smaller amounts spread out over the year, consistent support, reduction of mail or paper.)

Campaign Boosters

  • Goal, Thermometer, and Countdown – Three common tactics often overlooked but proven to improve campaign performance by adding urgency and excitement.
  • Matching Challenge – Work with a major donor or corporate supporter to arrange a match challenge for either Giving Tuesday or the Year-End campaign. Donors love to know their gift goes even further.
  • Paid Ads (Social or Paid Search) – Pull together some advertising dollars to put toward paid search, social ads, or boosting posts.
  • Ambassadors – Utilize your board members or super-volunteers to help spread the word about your campaign. Provide an “easy-to-share” packet with materials or sample posts they can copy and paste to social media accounts.
  • Testimonials – Collect a few testimonials from current donors, volunteers or clients to sprinkle throughout your campaign. These work well in email, on social, in graphics, on your campaign landing page or even your acknowledgements.
  • QR Codes – In any print material, add a QR code to the campaign landing page or straight to the donation form. Consider newsletters, magazines (either ads or partnerships) or consider a “year-in-review” postcard mailing.
  • Texting Campaign – Of course, this revenue boosting element requires significant setup. But, if your organization currently sends texts, consider an engagement or reminder series about the importance of year-end support.

Creative Strategy

  • Video Elements – Anything behind the scenes will do! Your CEO in their office, volunteers in action, a tour of the facility, or staff waving and saying thank you. If you need some inspiration, check out these TikTok videos for PBS, Malala Fund, Oregon Zoo, or Unicef.
  • Segmentation – Personalize your ads and emails based on audience segments. These can include donor history (non-donor, lapsed donor, sustainer), geographic area, volunteer history, or interests.
  • Donation Benefits – Add an incentive for donating. Consider downloadable content such as recipes or a crossword, work with a partner for a retail discount, or create a music playlist.
  • Events or Tours – Host a facility tour, family night, or work with a partner to offer tickets to an exclusive virtual tour (see the tour of the Jane Austen house in England as part of an integrated digital campaign.)
  • Giveaway – Collect items related to your mission or the theme of your campaign and offer them as an exclusive giveaway. Pair this with trivia or a personality quiz. This is an excellent acquisition and engagement tool that leads to conversion.

Ultimately, the goal is to improve the impact of the year-end initiatives through incremental changes. If you’re able to incorporate more into your campaigns, all the better! But, with so many things to do and so little time, this simple approach can help move the needle and offer ways to continue to build your efforts year after year.

Happy planning!