Year-End Appeal: How to Prepare Your Campaign

By: Vanessa Byrem-Tangy

At Mosaic, we love the end of the year — not because of the holiday season, great food, and excessive candy to consume, but because 30% of annual online gifts are made during the holidays. Did you know that nonprofits receive 50% of their annual donations between October and December? Or that people tend to give 80% larger gifts during this time?

In order to run a successful year-end campaign, simply asking your audience for donations isn’t enough. Your appeal needs to really stand out. Why? Because you must connect with your donor audience and make a clear and compelling case for giving.

But before you can start crafting that message, you must first evaluate and prepare your campaign plan. Here are four steps toward doing this effectively.

[Related: Planning Your Next Career Move? Don’t Forget to Join a Nonprofit Board]

Evaluate your past campaigns.

Learning from your past mistakes can be a valuable lesson. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Carefully analyze past results to separate what didn’t work, what worked enough to evaluate what you can do to build on it, and what was entirely successful and you know you will incorporate into the new plan. Meeting with your team to review this is crucial and will start sparking new ideas at the same time.

Here are some key items to consider:

  • What was your donation page conversion rate? If the conversion rate was low, make a list of issues that might have caused this. Was the page too complicated, too long, or asked too much information, causing your target audience to navigate away before completion? Was it too hard to find because there were not enough action items on other pages of your website that navigated your audience to the goal line? Did your donation page lack visual appeal, thus failing to create that emotional connection with the viewer? Make note of these items to discuss at a standalone brainstorming meeting.
  • Focus on the home-run items that worked during the campaign. List out the social posts, e-mails, and web pages that received the highest level of engagement. This tells you that your community loved their style or content. Keep them as samples to apply to your new campaign. Did a certain part of your campaign excel, like a gifts-matching program or specific scheduled event? What was the time of the day, and day of the week, where your donations were the highest? Hone in on when (time of day) and how (activity on different platforms) your audience is responding, and build engagement activities to occur at that time.
  • Review your technology — like your website. Is it current? Do you have a place that is highly-visible that you would want to feature your appeal?

Now, you have outlined detailed pieces that you can brainstorm for ideas.

[Related: Disrupt Yourself, with Whitney Johnson]


This is where you work with your team to take all those items you analyzed and create your task list for solutions. This is a good opportunity to further define your program and fundraising goals for the year.

For ideas on creating buyer personas to get more donations from supporters, download this free template.

Plan your activity strategy in conjunction with your targeted goals.

What are your program and fundraising goals for the year? Clearly defining your goals will help you to appropriately direct your time and resources during your campaign. Top Nonprofits has a great article on top tips to prepare your nonprofit that includes questions you can ask your team in order to determine those goals and strategize around them.

Finally, it’s time to prep!

Preparing can make all the difference. Here’s a list of things to consider:

  • Do you have leftover swag you can use that is relevant to your campaign?
  • Collect all the assets that your community responded to; be sure to remember images. Include your favorite images that are original, relevant, and not stock so that you engage with empathy.
  • Prepare your communication strategy by segmenting your donor database and creating your communications and content calendars.
  • Optimize your online donation process so you are ready to process onetime and recurring donations.

How well have you executed the evaluation and preparation stage? Stage two will be curation and messaging, so watch out for my next piece on that!

[Related: How To Listen To Your Intuition & Create Your Dream Life]

As a Partner of Mosaic Strategies Group, Vanessa Byrem-Tangy works with emerging and established professionals to enhance their brands to drive business, community impact, and donations.

Originally published at



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