Year-End Campaign Planning in July? Why One Marketing Expert Highly Recommends It.

By Nicole Carrea, Development Director at National Kidney Foundation

It’s June and that means Fundraising Day in New York is just around the corner. One session on my radar is Plan Now for a Successful Year-End Giving Campaign. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the session speakers, John Mix. John is a Senior Director of Marketing at the Human Rights Watch and he kindly gave us a sneak peak of what’s to be expected in this highly anticipated session.

Attendees of this session will walk away with immediately actionable best practices that will have a direct impact on the success of their year-end campaign. Simple enough. Yet difficult none the less when you consider that November always feels very far away, until it’s here, and you’re scrambling. That’s precisely why John suggests starting your planning process in July. More specifically “Right after the 4th of July come back to the office, pour yourself a cup of coffee and by lunch time you should have sketched out the basics of your year-end plan.” You don’t need to have it completely locked in at this point but identify the key dates and thematic ideas. Hooking into that holiday makes perfect sense to me. Opening the door to the second half of your calendar year and knowing that you have a plan in place for this critical piece of your revenue puzzle, well that must feel really good!  

We all have so much going on throughout the year, our own designated awareness months and special moment’s aligned with our missions. Those are our organization’s unique time to shine but once year-end rolls around, we’re all jumping into the same pool. John asked me a trick question (which he assured me everybody answers incorrectly) and it was, who do you think your organization’s biggest competition is? His answer: the big guys. “At year end especially, in digital marketing, you are competing with Proctor and Gamble. With Amazon. There is no special space for nonprofits to advertise digitally.” Well, John you have a point there! “You are going up against Tide and when you consider P&G spends billions in digital advertising, you can’t afford to mess around.”

It’s imperative that you separate yourselves from the noise during a time when both the email and postal mailboxes are overflowing. “When you show up with your little handful of money, your creative better be on point and your copy better be on point. Don’t underestimate the importance of those things because good enough is not enough at year end. It all comes back to that preplanning.” I reminded John that not all organizations are fortunate enough to have an expert like himself on staff to curate such a seamless end of year campaign but he is adamant that any shop, at any size, can do it. “There’s just best practices and adhering to best practices is free.”

Plan Now for a Successful Year-End Giving Campaign is unique in that it will incorporate project management (John is also a certified PMP). He will be co-hosting the session with Steve Abrahamson, Director, Direct Response Marketing at the National Audubon Society. John and Steve will assist you in project managing your year-end campaign by breaking the process into three phases, the first being 4th of July through Memorial Day which is time they suggest spent cultivating your donors, preparing them for the “ask” that will come at year-end.

For John, it’s all about playing the long game. It’s true that you only have one year-end campaign each year, but you have 10 campaigns in a decade, a hundred every century. “There’s this panic to solve world problems based on your year-end campaign. It seems like everything is fine in July then come December you’re watching the money flow in and people go crazy.” Set a plan, stick to it, and measure the results. Don’t forget to check your success against your peers in the industry and yourself year over year, there’s always room for improvement. 

Plan Now for a Successful Year-End Giving Campaign covers all parts of year-end campaign, including digital and direct mail. You’ll move from conception through execution, ensuring that your organization is set up for success to win your share of the year’s most competitive donor dollars. Mark your calendar for June 22 at the New York Marriott Marquis and don’t miss this and other educational sessions at the 2018 Fundraising Day in New York!


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