Online Fundraising Ideas

6 Steps for Your Most Successful Year-End Fundraising Campaign Ever!

If you’re reading this blog, you likely:

  1. Work for a nonprofit.
  2. Rely on year-end donations to fund your important work.

In other words, welcome to the club. It’s very noisy during the holiday fundraising season as nonprofits around the globe vie for attention and much-needed donations. But fear not! Here are six steps to stand out from the crowd and have your most successful online fundraising campaign ever!

fundraising campaign ideas

Step #1: Get to Know Your Supporters

It sounds obvious. But when you think about your organization’s community, how much do you really know? Which age group donates the most? Where do they live? Where do your supporters spend most of their time online? And most of all, what messaging motivates and inspires them to donate to causes?

Before we design a year-end fundraising campaign at Media Cause, we do a deep dive into our client’s website and social analytics, perform a community survey, conduct in-depth interviews or focus groups, test messaging and more to learn as much about their supporter base as possible. This research is crafted into target personas, which humanize the most prominent characteristics of your community. It’s a fantastic process to not only get specific about who your campaign is targeting, but also get your creative juices flowing. After all, even the most unique and well-executed campaign will fall flat if it’s geared towards the wrong audience!

Step #2: Geek Out on Data

In order to refresh your fundraising strategy, you need to audit your website and past campaigns. It can be time-consuming, but it’s absolutely critical to understand your baseline data. Which channels are successfully driving donations on your site, and which aren’t? What types of email subject lines consistently have the highest open rates? What is your donation page’s conversion rate? By understanding as much as you can about what’s working and what’s not on your digital platforms and campaigns, you’ll know what you need to tweak and optimize for your upcoming campaign.

You know what they say – behind every successful fundraising campaign is a whole lot of good data.

fundraising campaign data

Step #3: Make it Pop!

Unique. Eye-catching. Memorable. Are those adjectives that you’d use to describe your past fundraising campaigns? They should be! To stand out during the holidays, you need a campaign theme that grabs your supporters’ attention, tugs at their heartstrings, and makes them reach deep into their pockets. And once you’ve created the perfect concept, don’t forget to pair it with a visual identity and landing page that is fresh and original.

The status quo just doesn’t cut it during the holidays. Now pull out that whiteboard and start brainstorming!

Step #4: Plan, Plan, Plan

Successful year-end campaigns take months of planning, then you blink and it’s over. Before you send that first appeal, you need a well-thought-out strategy and implementation plan. How will your campaign messaging be adapted to Facebook versus Instagram? How will you make your email appeals feel urgent and compelling for the entire campaign? Who is responsible for creating the extra content necessary for your campaign? What messaging will best drive donations from existing supporters, and how will you attract and convert new leads into first-time donors?

A comprehensive Marketing and Communications plan may feel excessive for a single campaign, but it’s not. It will be the North Star for your team when five different people are writing copy and it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to actually pull off the campaign! Please, please, don’t skip the strategy.

Here’s a helpful checklist we put together for a Giving Tuesday campaign.


Step #5: We Live in a Multi-Channel World

This is where the rubber meets the road. All the planning in the world won’t make your fundraising campaign successful unless you execute. And every digital channel plays an important role in a campaign’s success.

For example, social media is awesome at building a campaign’s brand awareness, encouraging user engagement, and reaching that ever-sought-after goal of “going viral.” Email is still the number one channel for driving online donations. And in online space that is increasingly pay-to-play, digital advertising is now a must rather than a nice-to-have for a successful year-end fundraiser.

Make sure that your team has clearly defined responsibilities (or hire the support you need as early as possible), and execute on every channel with the precision of a Swiss watch.

Step #6: It’s Not Over Until the New Year Fireworks

Once your campaign has launched, it’s tempting to just sit on your hands and hope that the donations start piling up. But there’s so much more to do! I hate to break it to you, but that strategy you worked so hard to design a few months back is now just that, a strategy that you thought would work. Now that you have data coming in, figure out if it’s actually working!

Crunch every advertising metric and pore over each email’s open and conversion rates. Anything and everything can be optimized. A/B test different calls-to-action to get that extra half percent of conversion rate. Experiment with the frequency and quantity of daily social media posts to increase engagement and landing page clicks.

You’ve only got a few months to raise the majority of donations for the year, so make every day count until…

holiday fundraising campaign

And there you have it. Follow these six steps and you’ll be well on your way to your most successful year-end fundraising campaign ever! Good luck!

Do you feel a bit overwhelmed or under-resourced to pull off your campaign? Drop us a line and let’s talk about how we can help with your year-end fundraising!


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