The year-end fundraising season is ramping up.

Giving Tuesday is at the end of November. The biggest donation week of the year is the last week in December. There are emails to draft, donor and prospect lists to pull, paper mailings to design and print, text to approve, face-to-face solicitations to initiate, meltdowns to schedule…

Whew! If you have anything to do with fundraising at a nonprofit organization (and yes, board members, I’m looking at you as well as staff), to say this time of year can be stressful is an understatement.

We can get caught in the trap of feeling that we have to do All The Things: A full-fledged, integrated Giving Tuesday campaign that includes an email drip campaign, text-to-give, a multi-platform social media campaign, a crowdfunding campaign, and more. After Giving Tuesday… we can’t just send one year-end fundraising appeal email at the end of December. We have to send multiple emails, starting in November. We have to send more than one paper/physical mailing. We have to do A/B testing with different messages to determine what’s most effective. We have to split up our mailing lists by donors and prospects, major donors, intermediate donors, LYBUNTS/SYBUNTS. There’s just so much to do! And we have to do it ALL!



You do NOT have to do it all. Not by a longshot.


How can you choose which year-end fundraising strategies to deploy?

I work with lots of smaller nonprofit organizations that simply do not have the resources to pull off All The Things when it comes to year-end fundraising. If your organization can’t do it all, that’s FINE. Just do some of it, and make smart choices about what you can do. For example:

  • If you have a strong social media presence, leverage that to maximize your impact on Giving Tuesday and/or create a crowdfunding campaign among your most active social media users. If you do not have a dynamic, multi-platform social media presence, now is not the time to build it — don’t depend on it to draw tons of new gifts at the end of the year.
  • Does your organization have a cadre of loyal supporters who make gifts each year? If so, examine your list and see if any of those donors might be right for a face-to-face solicitation to ask for a larger commitment, or a customized thank you letter that will make them feel special (or, both!). If your list is lackluster, make it a priority over the next year to build it via social media posts, signups at events, free offers to people who join the list, etc… but make sure you ask permission before adding anyone to your list!
  • If you tend to get most of your donations via online giving, maybe you can skip a paper/US mail mailing this year. If you get a substantial number of donations in the mail, make sure you do a year-end paper mailing.

You CAN do this!

Don’t throw your hands up and say “Well, we can’t do what we are ‘supposed to’ do for Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising, so we might as well just sit them out. Better luck next year!” Now is the time to activate donors and prospects. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do what you can, make good choices, and measure your results this year to figure out what you should focus on next year. You can do this!


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