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3 min Read
July 22, 2014

Year-end fundraising campaigns as an experience of your brand

With the A/C on full blast and iced coffee in hand, it’s hard to think about the negative wind chill and cups of hot cocoa that await us come December. But as one of Big Duck’s resident fundraising fiends, year-end campaign season–AKA, “a nonprofit’s most financially rewarding time of the year”–is always on my mind. So why do I want it on yours? Well, it really is never too early to get started, and I want to help make it easy—so let’s focus on the tools you already have: your brand and your donors.

Use your brand strategy to guide your fundraising

If you’ve worked with us, read Brandraising, or attended one of our workshops, you know that the heart of your brand strategy is positioning and personality. Positioning is the big idea that you hope supporters associate with your organization. It’s also what sets you apart. Personality is the set of attributes or feelings you want people to associate with your organization. With your organization’s positioning and personality in hand, you can develop or judge different creative themes for your fundraising campaign.

Because your year-end fundraising should be an extension of your work year-round, these communications should feel like an extension of your usual communications. Yes, your year-end campaign should be special, and this may be a time of year where you invest more time and money into what you send out. But if your year-end fundraising does not sound, look, and feel like you, your donors and prospects will be confused and less likely to give. Use year-end fundraising to accentuate your incredible work. It may be a promotion of your best self, but it is certainly your true self.

Appeal to your core donors – and acknowledge them too

Fundraising campaigns typically focus on renewing the support of current donors, issuing a special appeal to all supporters, reinstating former donors, and/or acquiring new donors. For year-end efforts, we typically suggest you focus your campaign on getting repeat gifts from past supporters, either recent or lapsed, as opposed to running a major acquisition campaign to get new supporters. Certainly all gifts are welcome, including those from people who have not yet given to you, but you likely have a limited budget for printing and postage (yes, many of you should still be in the mail!), advertising on Google or social media, and/or bringing in outside help for strategy, copywriting, design, and/or coding.

By tailoring your approach to year-end fundraising to the people who already know you, you celebrate the ways they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you into the future. As we enter the season of giving, be sure you not only ask people to donate, but you give them other actions to take and that you say ‘thank you’. This can be a great time to make phone calls, send hand-written notes, post a video message or thanks, and let donors know that you love them. 

See this approach in action

For the past three years, we’ve had the chance to work with Fountain House, an organization that works to create a world where people with mental illness achieve their potential and are respected as co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Last year, I shared this idea of developing campaigns as an experience of your brand as a webinar with Andrea Roy, of Fountain House; Danielle Burgess, of Fight Colorectal Cancer; and Sheila Katz, of Ask Big Questions. You can watch the recording anytime and see how this works, not just for fundraising, but also for advocacy and program recruitment.

How did you use your brand in your last fundraising campaign? Is there anything new you are planning to try at the end of this year? Share your tips and ask questions in the comments below.