October 31

How to Get the Most Out of Your End of Year Fundraising


Unlike a lot of things we do as marketers to lead our audiences to actions that they weren’t considering before they encountered our message, end-of-year fundraising is a time when we ask our audience to do something they’re already considering—giving.

That means there’s enough social momentum this time of year that—if you do it right—you’re almost sure to get a significant response from your donor base.

Understand the multifaceted nature of end-of-year fundraising.

End-of-year fundraising is not a one time event, like a fall donor banquet. And it’s not a one time campaign, like a direct response fundraising letter.

Year-end fundraising is a series of sub-campaigns over the fall months that merge into one overarching campaign.

At its best, this season harnesses the unique qualities and benefits of various marketing channels, fundraising strategies, and activities to secure the highest amount of charitable donations possible for the organization by the end of the year.

Plan your overall campaign and your sub-campaigns.

Even though your campaign is multifaceted, it should have certain elements that make for a cohesive experience for your audience.


Choose a theme that stems from your mission. Capture this theme via slogans, colors, and other graphical elements.

Make sure every communication and event reflects your end-of-the-year theme.


The language you use in your fundraising communication should come out of your branding guide, but should be more emotional and urgent (Gail Perry calls it “fire-in-the-belly messaging”).

You can’t fundraise from an ivory tower. Fundraising language should be at the level of a sixth grader, or less.

It also must get to the point and strongly, clearly, and compellingly ask for action—right now!


Clarify your financial, advocacy, and volunteer goals. Stressing the goals that you have creates urgency within your fundraising communications and engenders trust in your brand because donors will feel you know where you’re going.


No one likes them, but you must set deadlines for each sub-campaign and stick by them. Plan well in advance so you can get your letters, postcards, and emails out on time!


While you certainly should be mailing your donors, remember to diversify your campaign. Integrate your direct mail campaigns with social media, website, email, text, and phone campaigns.

Don’t be afraid to “Wow” your donors.

Change things up to let donors know you’re serious about raising money. Use billboard designs and teaser copy for your carrier envelopes.

Bright colors and different sizes will get your mail noticed among the stack of bills. Stay away from No. 10 white envelopes so that you can blow away the hundreds of other nonprofits competing for your donors’ dollars.

If you don’t have the budget to go big on your direct mail, I recommend getting creative in other ways.

For example, it may be in black and white, but change the format of your letters to look urgent and sincere. Utilize bright colors and moving imagery in your website and email design, which costs almost nothing to do.

Make it all about your donors.

Finally, the best fundraising happens when fundraising communications are all about the donor.

This goes way beyond making sure you infuse your copy with the word “you.” Fundraising copywriter Jeff Brooks says it this way:

It’s become pretty common for fundraisers to say that “you” is the magic word of fundraising. But it takes more than just throwing the word around.

Here’s an unmagical use of the word “you”:

When you send your gift, we’ll use it to change the world.

And here’s the same idea with the magic included:

When you send your gift, you’ll change the world.

Don’t just sprinkle the word “you” into your fundraising. Make your fundraising about the donor.

This means that you’re not accomplishing great things. Your donor is. You’re not creating next generation leaders—your donor is.

From all of us here at Caylor Solutions, may this be your best fundraising year yet!

If you need help with fundraising or any other area of your school’s marketing, contact us and learn what our team can do for you. There’s no obligation.

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