How will you TRIPLE year-end EMAIL fundraising?

triple pears

It’s not (repeat, NOT) too soon to start planning with these 7 tips!


Strength in Members helps nonprofit organizations develop strong relationships with their supporters.  Big River has partnered with Strength in Members to offer our clients a to establish a rigorous fundraising program (or take your program to the next level). For details and pricing, CONTACT US.

In this guest post, we asked them to tell us how to create an amazing campaign (year-end or otherwise).  Here, they share with us their top priorities for creating an amazing campaign, based on their experience working with organizations like Polaris Project.

Peter Genuardi, Founder, Strength In Members


Let’s be clear, because the money organizations raise in December represents a huge portion of nonprofit revenue, it is never TOO early to start planning for a year-end fundraising campaign. Last year, we started working with Polaris Project in late August to plan, write, and produce what turned into an amazing year-end campaign in 2013. When we say amazing, we mean Polaris Project nearly tripled their email fundraising results from the same period in 2012.


So, based on the things we did well and the things we could do better, we developed the following list of campaign elements that we recommend putting in place to give your campaign the maximum chance of success.


1. Start with a well articulated theme.

Polaris Project chose “Be a North Star” as their year end campaign theme. This fit perfectly with their mission (and their name!), inspiring people to stand up, lead the way,  and guide others out of slavery.  This personified analogy helped prospective donors feel more connected to the end goal of ending human trafficking and therefore boosted donations.

As you consider the theme of your year-end campaign, ask yourself:

  • How do we give people a sense of “ownership” or “investment” in our cause?
  • Is the theme consistent with our organization’s branding today (and down the road)?


2. Create a rich, personal, compelling donation experience.


…but leave the flash at home.


Polaris Project created an attention grabbing, personalized donation page to encourage conversion. This page included a header that gave credit to previous donors by showing their names as guiding stars in the night sky. If a person was  referred by another donor’s social media post, the refering donor’s name would appear first in the header to inspire a sense of community among the patrons. While the donation form was created with dynamism and interactivity in mind, we intentionally avoided making it TOO flashy or distracting.

As you consider the donation form(s) for your year-end campaign, ask yourself:

  • How can we inspire action with a minimal investment?
  • Can our donation platform give us the flexibility we need to pull this off?
  • Would we donate to a form that looks like X, Y, Z?


polaris 1



3. Coordinate creative across media.  

It’s so much more than social. Polaris integrated the look, messaging, and timing across social, email, and direct mail. This coordination strengthened the brand and campaign presence while creating a surround-sound effect for the targets of the campaign.


Polaris 2



Maintaining consistency is essential to driving home the branding of the campaign and (more importantly) clear calls to action. Polaris pushed the “North Star” theme throughout all media channels by creating a strategic objective calendar to coordinate the timing of the campaign and keep content and calls to action consistent, yet compelling throughout each medium.

As you consider the coordination of your creative:

  • Make a checklist of all the content you need to create for each medium.
  • Get the same team to write and design your content assets.
  • Check to be sure that, while the themes and design elements are consistent, the voice should be adjusted for each medium.


4. Establish a Calendar

Planning is a must. Trust us, you will thank yourself when everything is said and done. Polaris and Strength in Members created a strategic objective calendar to optimize the timing of the release of content to maximize exposure and audience. Be sure to communicate the plan and corresponding goals with your internal team. The calendar not only helped Polaris Project organize the campaign execution, it also helped everyone involved stay on track. Plus, sharing is fun!

As you consider the coordination of your creative and production schedule:

  • Develop a campaign calendar with swim lanes for each of the media you’re planning to create content for – Web, eCommerce, social, email, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.
  • Be flexible. If an email is delayed, consider accelerating the publication of your social content.


5. Include cross-media social asks.

Polaris Project connected the media platforms by asking donors to spread the word via other media. For example, after a donation was made on the Web, Polaris Project sent a thank you email that encouraged the donor to encourage their friends to donate with a personalized post to Facebook. This simple step expanded the reach of the campaign and boosted participation. Polaris Project also connected their direct mail pieces to the online donation form to facilitate donation transactions.

As you develop cross-media asks, consider:

  • Are our audience members using social networks a lot (or email, Web, direct mail)?  Choose the media where you can find the most people.
  • Are these offers something that we would respond to? For instance, if you ask people to do something too big they will probably ignore the ask altogether.  For example, being asked to, “Send a Facebook invitation to donate to ALL of your friends, family, babysitters, colleagues, etc.” would probably turn most of us off.


6. Appoint a campaign leader.

Polaris Project designated a point person to work directly with Strength in Members.  This leader focused on the campaign and signed off on the final pieces of content. While she was responsible for 1,987 other things, she led the effort to coordinate with the half dozen Polaris Project staff who needed to review, comment, and approve the campaign content and creative.  Appointing someone to run point on the campaign allowed Polaris to maintain the consistency of products throughout the campaign. The point person doesn’t need to be the most senior person on the project, they just need to be the one in charge (ponder that!).


7. Plan to measure and tune.

Bake it in. For every piece of content sent out to the target market, Strength in Members analyzed the reach and conversion rate to determine which tactics and products were most successful. By doing so, they were able to tune the campaign to focus on the most effective medium for raising funds.


 OK, now get moving! It is not (repeat, NOT!!) too early to start planning for your year-end campaign.


Follow these tips and you’ll have a huge jump on your next campaign (year-end or otherwise).


What did we miss?  If you’ve got more tips, share them in the comments below!