School is starting, which means our levels of activity will ramp up—and it takes a good month to weather that transition—then it’s time to plan for Halloween costumes, which leads us into the whole chaos of Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and once we recover from that, the holiday season has solidly kicked in, and then we’re busy and/or tired till New Year’s Day.

Welcome to the new year, and oh by the way, how did your EOY appeal go?

Chances are good that if you didn’t start planning it early enough, it felt hurried, harried and rushed out the door. Our advice: Start planning now before the chaos hits. Here’s how.

1. Determine SMART goals.

What does it mean to be SMART? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. For example, are you looking to decrease the cost per dollar raised, increase donations from new donors, increase average gift size by XX amount or lose no more than a specific percentage of donors?

2. Set your budget (and stick to it).

Consider the ROI of your campaign. Investing wisely allows you to reach more people and create greater impact. Give yourself a 5% cushion to allow for unexpected costs and be realistic. Use last year’s numbers as a benchmark, but keep things in perspective. Set your expectations accordingly, and determine the cost per dollar raised by dividing the total cost by the total raised. As a general rule, aim to spend no more than 16 cents per dollar raised.

3. Gather your team.

Ask your board, staff, friends, family and regular donors to give early and help you gain momentum by recruiting their contacts. Have them donate on your campaign page and leave encouraging public messages (even if they give $1—no amount is too small). Encourage service recipients to motivate their friends and family to donate too. You should recruit them individually and personally via email and phone.

4. Prepare your mailing list.

Get your list as clean as possible. Build in extra time to run your contacts through NCOA (National Change of Address) processing so you’re not wasting precious dollars on printing and postage to supporters who have moved and clean up your email list so it’s current and segmented appropriately.

5. Develop your appeal.

More than ever, today’s donors expect to understand how their support will make an
impact. While organizing your event, put some focused time into the “sell” of your appeal. How will you tell your story and make your mission known? Consider pre-event messaging like email drip campaigns and social media blasts to build momentum. During the event, promote your message using printed brochures, videos, inspirational speakers or other tactics. Then follow up after the event using your digital channels.

Focus on showing your audience that by supporting your organization, they can affect change around an issue they care about. Make clear asks and be specific about planned uses and impacts.

If this all feels overwhelming, don’t shove it under the rug and wait for it to get even more overwhelming (refer back to the beginning where I explain how the rest of the year is going to go). Make your life easier with a fundraising appeals package designed to get results without stressing you the heck out.


See what’s in it