10 ways to make a stand-out year end campaign

Posted: Nov 15th, 2017 Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Did you know nearly 31% of all charitable giving occurs in December?

That is one in every three dollars raised. If there was ever a time, year-end campaigns are a time to supercharge your fundraising!

With so much money to be raised, there is a lot of noise and everyone is under a lot of pressure to meet their year-end goals. Make sure you stand out in the crowd by implementing one - or all ten - of these tips.


  1. Have your board offer a match.

    Year-end campaigns are great times to engage your Board of Directors, and what better way to engage them than have them offer a match! Whether it is a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, a year-end match by the Board of Directors give you a goal to work towards, shows investment by key players in the community, leverages the board’s own donations, and gives an extra incentive for your donors to give.

  2. Design the outer envelope of your mailer.

    From fundraising appeals to family holiday cards, everyone gets a lot of mail in December. The upside is your donors are more likely to open mail and read what you’re up to, but you still need to break through the noise. Make your appeal stand out by designing the outside of the envelope. This can be as simple as a few extra words or a basic graphic, but something that tells your donors, “open me!”

  3. Create an insert.

    Simple one pagers or even palm cards are great ways to spruce up your fundraising appeal. Give the insert some life by including pictures and colors images. Design an infographic about your impact or feature a story of someone your organization helped. Consider putting it on glossy paper or cardstock. In the end, the insert should be simple, quick to read, and inspire donors to give.

  4. Use a consistent brand, but different voices.

    Everyone is sending lots of communications during the holidays. Rather than having everything come from your Director, Board Chair, or dreaded “generic_email@organization.org,” add some character and heart to your campaign by having different speakers. Ask a volunteer or longtime down to be the voice in one of your emails. Engage one of your success stories and ask them to make an image for Facebook.

  5. Run a multi-channel fundraising effort.

    Successful fundraising campaigns leverage all of an organization's communications channels in unique and interesting ways. Increase the impact of your direct mailer, but matching your mailing list to social media and running boosted posts with your year-end message. If you have the resources, engage your Board or volunteers to call and send personal emails and notes to major donors. The more often you can touch your donors, without it being overbearing, the more likely they are to think of you when writing a year-end check.

  6. Reach out to major donors early.

    Don’t leave contributions from your major donors to chance. Start personally reaching out to them early so your organization is on their mind when they are thinking through their year-end giving. Give them a phone call, meet with them for lunch, invite them to a holiday or giving Tuesday event, and most important of all, make sure you thank them and let them know how their previous gifts made an impact.

  7. Define and communicate a goal.

    Year-end campaigns should be treated like a real campaign - and all campaigns have clearly defined goals and objectives. Defining a goal encourages staff, volunteers, and leaders to be creative and troubleshoot issues. They help measure progress and demonstrate success. And when communicated broadly, they help other people visualize how they can fit into your plan and play a role in the effort. Whether it is a dollar amount, a number of donations, or a number of new donors, set a goal and you’ll achieve it!

  8. Segment your list.

    Donors are unique, and while it's an art to treat donors individually while also dealing with scale, there are some easy ways you can segment your donors. First, think about your list in terms of current donors, lapsed, and expired. You can also pull out major donors and write them a personal note. It’s also easy to pull our first-time donors, and giving them a little bit of special treatment can move them from a one-time gift to a lifetime supporter.

  9. Don’t forget to pick up the phone!

    Too many organizations see year-end appeals as just dropping a letter in the mail, but to ensure you reach your goal, don’t forget to pick up the phone. Calling your major donors and thanking them for their previous gift will significantly increase the likelihood of another major year-end gift.

  10. Send a postcard to follow up on your email.

    Most direct mail letters are sent in early December. Sending a letter early is important so you beat the rush, but you can boost your year-end results by sending a low-cost postcard in the final days of December as a quick reminder to give before the end of the year.

Matt Lyon

Matt has over 12 years of political fundraising experience. Matt’s experience includes overseeing up to fourteen staff members, administering budgets exceeding $1.1 million annually, directing million dollar paid media programs, raising over $5 million for various causes and organizations, and developing and implementing communications strategies that led to dozens of stories in local and national outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post. Matt is an experienced and campaign veteran always willing to help the next candidate make a difference.