Year-End Fundraising Ideas: 12 Successful (Yet Underutilized) Strategies

There’s a chill in the air and everyone’s enjoying their pumpkin spiced lattes and hot cocoa. Soon, we’ll spend our days purchasing holiday gifts for loved ones, baking, and gearing up for visits from family and friends.

Naturally, our personal to-do lists grow increasingly long as year-end nears.

But your professional life as a fundraiser isn’t slowing down either. Because, aside from the normal holiday hullabaloo, you’re also busy planning fundraisers and engagement opportunities to round out your organization’s calendar year. Since you probably raise a good percentage of your fundraising goal during the month of December—you have to make the time count!

Knowing how much time and effort you spend planning events and campaigns inspired us to create this resource to help guide your final year-end fundraising preparations.

Try these 12 successful, yet underutilized strategies to help you raise more money and create stronger relationships this year-end.
1. Start Planning Immediately, Even If It’s A Fundraiser You’ve Done Before

When it comes to fundraising, the early bird definitely gets the worm. You don’t want to start planning your year-end campaigns at the beginning of December, even if you’ve already held a similar fundraiser before.

Instead, give yourself a solid 4-6 week time frame (pre-December) to hammer down your year-end fundraising details so you’re ready to go on kickoff day. That way, you’ll give your team enough time to prepare marketing efforts, finalize logistics, and recruit and mobilize personal fundraisers (if you’re running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign).

Early preparation is key in ensuring a successful campaign.

2. Mobilize Your Closest Friends

We often forget to ask our nonprofit or charity’s most loyal friends for help before a fundraiser even begins.

Personally, I’m a big fan of asking those serving on the board of directors to not only donate first (which is a given) but to also volunteer with fundraising efforts.

By using community-driven fundraising techniques, such as making phone calls, sharing the campaign online, connecting you with prospective donors, or using their community connections to broaden your campaign’s scope, your board can kickstart the fundraising efforts.

The Carlisle Family YMCA attributes a lot of their fundraising success to the support of their board. According to Cate Mellen of the Y, We had 50% committed before we started. Traditionally our campaign starts off with our Board of Directors finding donors to commit to give. We want to make sure to target leadership donors quietly behind the scenes before launching.”

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Carlisle Family YMCA Campaign Website

The same goes for your major donors, long-time volunteers, and others who’ve shown commitment to your cause over the years. When you mobilize your biggest supporters first, your year-end fundraising efforts start off on the right foot.

3. Build Strategic Partnerships

It’s always good to be reminded that nonprofits and charities aren’t in competition with one another. In fact, a community needs organizations working together to ensure a healthy support system for all.

You may find that it’s in your best interest to work together on a year-end fundraising campaign together. And, in doing so, there’s potential for your base of prospective supporters to grow.

4. Ramp Up Your Community-Driven Fundraising Efforts

We mention community-driven fundraising a lot and we’ll dive into some specifics further down in this list. But it’s true: one of the best ways to elevate your year-end fundraising to the next level is to incorporate not one, but multiple forms of community-driven fundraising into your fundraising plan.

Whether it’s engaging with your supporters on social media and asking them to comment and share your posts or running a full-fledged peer-to-peer campaign, the minute you incorporate your tight-knit community, momentum is soon to follow.

Ensure you’re using community-driven fundraising with each year-end fundraising activity. Never forget to ask people to share your campaign with others.

5. Segment Your Donors

It’s not always advisable to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to fundraising because your supporters have different income levels, motives for giving, interests, and intended engagement levels.

As you plan your year-end fundraisers, segment your donors, paying special attention to lapsed and first-time donors. These are your most vulnerable populations that need nurturing. Send out targeted messages that help to turn these people into returning or recurring donors.

Kerri Moore, marketing director at Booster, Created by Customink knows a thing or two about donor segmentation. She believes “Knowing which donors require more of your attention will help you allot your time, resources, and funds wisely.”

Try personally reaching out to lapsed donors with a phone call to recapture their support. Or, plan a holiday party where you connect first-time donors with long-time givers.

6. Connect Your Donors To Your Work With Volunteer Opportunities

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, those who volunteer for a cause give almost twice as much as other donors. One reason is that volunteering gives your supporters an inside look at the work your organization does, as well as the need that remains.

This year-end, plan a fundraiser that gets supporters working to support your community-driven fundraising efforts. It can be a peer-to-peer fundraiser that mobilizes supporters to become personal fundraisers, or simply asking your supporters to share your cause with a handful of friends and family.

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“Take The Challenge” Call To Action To Become A Personal Fundraiser

7. Plan An Online Peer-To-Peer Fundraiser

Speaking of donors becoming volunteers, this year-end, consider running an online peer-to-peer fundraiser.

Peer-to-peer fundraising, a community-driven fundraising technique, is a way to energize your supporters and get them to support your cause, not just by giving money, but their time and efforts.

When you plan an online peer-to-peer fundraising campaign using CauseVox, we provide you with a user-friendly interface to both manage your campaign progress, as well as keep track of your personal fundraisers. Plus, it’s as easy as pie to get started!

Brown Girl Surf is one of the thousands of organizations using peer-to-peer fundraising to power their fundraising campaign.

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Brown Girl Surf Fundraising Website

Especially as the year ends, schedules get tight. An online peer-to-peer fundraiser gives you the benefit of fundraising 24/7 so you can reach all your current and potential donors.

8. Plan An Impact-Driven Campaign

You’ve raised money all year long using different techniques from direct mail to email marketing. Most of the time, you’ve asked for money to create change. But sometimes, your donor may appreciate a campaign that focuses entirely on impact.

Instead of stressing the dollar amount you need to raise, focus on the impact occurring. How many people do you need to serve? How many acres of wetland need to be mitigated? When push comes to shove, this is why your donors support your cause.

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CauseVox Impact Meter

If you’re using CauseVox to power your fundraiser, use our impact meter to track progress. Otherwise, try a traditional thermometer or post a funky impact-inspired infographic on your site.

9. Go Wild With Social Media

Social media has become one of the nonprofit world’s most valuable communication tools. It allows us to connect with our supporters in a way we weren’t able to before.

This year-end, try a social media fundraiser. Here are 2 suggestions:

  • Facebook Live Campaign: Prepare your supporters ahead of time about the campaign. When the time comes to kick off, your followers will receive a push notification that you’re “LIVE.” Give your audience a tour of your office, get a guest speaker, or do something crazy to encourage people to give.

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  • Snapchat: Tap into the ever-growing population of millennial donors using one of their favorite platforms. Create fun, engaging Snapchat stories using your most creative campaign themes and calls to action.

Aside from helping you to raise money, social media allows campaigns to be shared with little effort on the part of your supporters.

10. Secure A Gift Match

Gift matches are nonprofit gold. They are a guaranteed way to increase the exposure of your campaign, create a sense of urgency, and ultimately leverage your donor’s gifts.

This year-end, partner with a local business or major donor to secure a gift match. Anything, from $500 to $5,000 or more can help to double your campaign results and help you meet your fundraising goals.

11. Phone-a-Thon

Every single October, my alma mater gives me a ring to ask for money. But, they’re the only charity/nonprofit/university/organization that actually calls me for a donation anymore, and that’s surprising considering how much the nonprofit world relied on phone-based fundraising in the past.

This year-end, spice it up with a phone-a-thon. First, analyze your donor base. If the pool of donors is too large, target a segment of them such as those that are lapsed, new, give major gifts, or those that have given year after year without fail.

Encourage your staff and volunteers to make the phone calls. If anyone’s a bit “phone shy,” consider creating a simple script. The wonderful thing about the phone is that it’s a very personal way to connect with your donors.

Surprisingly, phone fundraising is a successful way to get the job done!

12. Do Something Crazy (Challenge for Charity)

Some of your donors may be bored with the same ol’ fundraiser and as more campaigns “go viral,” your donors are going to start wondering what your cause is going to do to break the fundraising mold, so to speak.

So, give them something to look forward to with a year-end challenge. Hold a “Who Looks Like Santa” contest, have supporters grow facial hair, challenge donors to run a 5k every weekend in December— it doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s fun, funky, and different.

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David Lichman Moustache Challenge

You can promote your crazy charity challenge online on your website, a fundraising website, or social media.

The end of the year is fast approaching. What are you doing to capture those last donor dollars? We hope these 12 successful, yet underutilized strategies help kickstart your own year-end fundraiser planning.

For additional help planning your year-end fundraisers, check out our 60-Day Year-End Fundraising Plan.

Here are some additional resources you may find useful:

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