Once your year-end appeal letter is in the mail, your email series is written and scheduled, and your gift acknowledgement letters begin their journey… time to wrap-up your campaign and start counting the money!
Not so fast!
In our relief to check that appeal mailing off of our list, and our need to look ahead to the coming year, we often forget several critical things that must be accomplished.
Create a campaign wrap-up email
When someone has participated in your campaign, when they’ve helped you achieve your goals, they deserve to know immediately and specifically what they helped accomplish. This is another opportunity to reinforce their decision to support your work and treat them as important partners.
Create an email update and/ or a printed newsletter dedicated to reporting back on the outcomes of your campaign. Collectively, did they, through their gifts, fund 10,000 meals for the homeless? Pay for 2,000 days of end-of-life care for the year ahead? Did they raise $10,000 for your cat shelter? Let them know.
You may also want to consider including a short, simple thank-you video to include in your email. It doesn’t have to be a high-budget effort. Just grab your iPhone and interview (when appropriate) your clients, families, students, board members or program staff. Even just a simple voice saying “thank-you” goes a long way.
Organize a January thank-a-thon
Grab your board members and key volunteers or staff members and bring them all together at one location for an evening of thank-you calls to as many donors as you can squeeze in. I like to do this in January after the holidays have passed and schedules are more open. Bring refreshments and make it a party!
Every time I’ve been a part of a phone effort to thank donors it has been a huge hit with everyone involved: Volunteers find it fun and rewarding, donors are very pleasantly surprised to be remembered (and often send in additional checks!), and board members are thrilled to participate in fundraising without having to ask for money.
This is a great investment in future annual campaigns. Add this to your annual calendar. Your donors will remember.
Identify and contact your “about-to-lapse” VIP donors
Towards the end of December, run a list of your most important donors who, although they typically make an annual gift, haven’t done so yet this calendar year. Put together a plan to track their giving (or lack thereof) and be prepared to contact them (personally!) in late December or even early January and ask them again for their “annual” gift. Remind them of how important they are to you.
These are some of your most loyal and critical partners and you really don’t want to lose them!
When they do finally send in that gift, be sure to shower them with gratitude.
Measure your campaign results
Beyond how much money came in, you need to measure things like:
Email opens and click-throughs to your donation page.
Response rates and average gift for each giving channel and for your campaign as a whole.
What percentage of gifts were made online vs. offline? How did that compare to last year?
For some further guidance on measuring your campaign, subscribe to Smart Annual Giving and download the free Smart Guide to Evaluating your Annual Appeal.
Document your campaign
Please don’t forget to write down every. little. thing. that you did. It is so very important to keep good records and note the details of your campaign so that you’ll remember next year and also so that the staff who follow you know exactly what and how you did.
In addition to your computer files, keep hard copies of your printed appeals, emails, thank-you letters – as well as all your campaign notes, results, and budgets – in a big, fat appeal notebook and update it each year.
Update your expenses in your budget spreadsheet. Did you spend what you planned? Did your printing end up costing more than you thought? Did you save on design costs? Log everything so that you can forecast and plan accurately next year.
Evaluate your campaign. Sit down and think about what your results tell you about your campaign. Is online giving going up? Did your average gifts go down? Did your new appeal design make a difference in response rates? What should you do differently next year? Write a report and file it with your results.