After organizational buy-in, segmentation, and testing, it’s time to map out your engagement strategy. The truth of the matter is your organization isn’t the only one that’s realized December is such a valuable time for fundraising, so you need a thoughtful approach to help your messaging stand out from the deluge of asks your donor is no doubt receiving.

Framework for Mapping Your Engagement Strategy:

  • Mine the DataWho has usually given by this time of year but hasn’t yet? Include all donors from the past three years. Add dates so you can see the donor’s preferred giving timeframe. Exclude the obvious: deceased, memorials, capital campaign payment, etc. Sort the list in reverse order of gift size so it’s easy to spot the big donors.
  • Review Your Case—Building a case statement for why donors should support your end-of-year campaign is essential. It should be clear and specific, answering the question, “What are you going to do with this money if I donate to you?” The more tangible you can be, the easier it will be for the donor to see the value of your support. Once you have this statement nailed down, it’s time to re-engage those internal champions we talked about in the first chapter. Everyone in your organization should be armed with this case statement so they can effectively engage supporters at every organizational touchpoint.
  • Target the Best Donors—Select your biggest donors for personal contact. Set the goal of having each staff member in your organization contact five top donors by the end of the first week of December to share a meaningful message of gratitude. This can be a face-to-face meeting or a phone call; the goal is to lead with heartfelt thanks and remind donors how valuable their gifts were last year. This is a perfect time to share any exciting news about mission impact or big upcoming plans before inviting them to once again partner with you by renewing their support.
  • Contact the Next Tier of Donors—Take another look at your list and focus on the next larger tier of donors. The strategy for this group can be a personal letter or handwritten note—depending on your staff and donor pool size—requesting their support. Manageability is key. Don’t worry about layering this on top of your standard year-end mailing; this letter should be much more personal (consider hand-addressing) and shouldn’t resemble a direct mail piece. This is your opportunity to invite these prospects to renew their support; remember to tie the request to your case statement.
  • Extend Your Thanks—This is the best time of year to steward your donors, so don’t forget to thank them! Spend as much time as possible calling those that respond to your requests and wishing them a happy holiday season. Be sure to note upgrades and loyalty.

EOY Fundraising Toolkit


Erin Duff, Marketing Associate at Blackbaud, is passionate about giving nonprofits tools to change the world. Along with managing content for Blackbaud’s Annual Conference for Nonprofits, she builds on the company’s thought leadership initiatives with digital publications, speaking engagements, and webinars. She joined Blackbaud after serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at an antipoverty nonprofit in Austin, TX. When she’s not wading through inspiring research and writing, she teaches an ESL citizenship class and brushes up on Titanic trivia.

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