The Ultimate End-of-Year Charity Fundraising Toolkit [Updated for 2020]

September 16, 2020 Brian Isaac

December continues to be the biggest month for giving for Australian charities. The latest Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report found that 17% of all giving occurred in the final month of the year.

If you haven’t yet started, now is the perfect time to get your end-of-year campaign that engages and delights all of your supporters up and running—not only for existing donors but also new prospects and lapsed donors.

This will create a complex web of channels and messages that can quickly become overwhelming if it isn’t managed appropriately, but we’re here to help.

Use the steps within this toolkit to help you develop ideas for fundraising and position your donors as the heroes of your mission, and you’ll be sure to find success this upcoming season.

Planning your end-of-year giving? Do this first

Most of the success of your year-end campaign will lie in what you do in the lead-up. Here are six ways to start building your best campaign yet.

Man working together with coworkers on a computer

Identify key stakeholders and target audiences

  • Who from your organisation will be working on your end-of-year strategy?
  • Now you’ve addressed any database issues, who makes up your target audience?

Determine your fundraising goals and the pathways to achieve them

  • What amount will your organisation strive to raise this year?
  • By what percentage are you trying to increase average gift size, new donors, total year-end gifts, current donor donations?

Create a story to drive your campaign

  • What are your strategic campaign objectives?
  • Do you have a compelling story to give throughout the campaign?

Clearly communicate your campaign’s purpose

  • What is your mission and can it be easily shared and understood?
  • Is the donor the hero for your cause?

Complete your prep work and planning

  • What are your methods for fundraising?
  • What channels of communication will you use to attain your fundraising goal?
  • Do you have a budget established?
  • Have you taken inventory of your resources?

Set deadlines for your fundraising goals

  • What is your campaign timeline?
  • Have you made a monthly checklist to prepare staff for end-of-year success?


How to prepare your database

Registered charities must make sure they follow compliance mandates. Now you have your goals and strategy in place, the next step is to ensure that your database is ready for analytics by cleaning up your records and updating contact information.

Consider testing out more advanced analytics to help you pinpoint the best prospects to target at year-end.make sure everything is in place for the campaign’s success.

National Address Management Framework (NAMF): Leverage this data to ensure you don’t lose contact with individuals who are moving house.

Deceased Suppression: Deceased suppression identifies and flags any supporters who have passed away, which keeps the database updated and avoids potentially insensitive communications.

Duplicate Removal: Once the data has been standardised and updated, though, most CRM systems can identify duplicates and consolidate them, removing duplicate versions of “James Smith” or “Amanda Williams” that are in the database with multiple addresses.


Determine your messaging

Now is the time to take donor-centrism to the next level; everything about your appeal should frame your donor as the hero of the story. Think about your audience and what motivates them to give to a good cause.

Goal, Audience, Messaging for Nonprofits

Why Supporters Give During the Year-End Giving Season

As you plan your message, it is important to understand why so many supporters raise funds for charity during the year-end giving season. Getting this right can inspire fundraiser ideas like never before!

  1. The holiday season inspires people to give to charity

This time of year inspires people to help those less fortunate than themselves. This naturally motivates supporters to think about charity fundraising ideas enabling them to give.

2. Some donors seek last-minute tax deductions

If you have donors in countries where people can claim tax deductions for their charity fundraising or charitable gifts, it’s worth remembering that those supporters might want to fundraise or make year-end donations to get immediate tax benefits without having to wait until the next year.

3. Supporters have money left in their philanthropic budget

Many organisations have “use it or lose it” budgetary rules, but this is also true for individuals and families who reset their budgets on January first. By staying front-of-mind during important giving seasons, charity often gets a piece of those funds.


How to Construct Your Year-End Giving Message

As you design your year-end giving campaigns, what should you be saying to your supporters?

The best charity year-end ask includes three main components:

Looking Back

Talk to your community about all the great things that your organisation accomplished this year and the people you helped. Better yet, frame it in terms of all the people that the members of your community have helped because of their support for your mission.

Looking Forward

Tell your fundraiser and donor audience about all the amazing things that your organisation has planned for the following year. Cast a big vision for your work, programmes, and team for the next 12 months, and invite your community to get involved in helping you make that vision a reality.

Group of colleagues

Making an Ask

You told your supporters about what they accomplished this past year by helping your mission, and what's upcoming in the next year. Now, invite your community to make an investment (or to continue its investment) in your organisation, so together you can make the coming year the biggest and best.


Telling Your Story

When creating the messaging for your end-of-year campaign, storytelling can be used to support your organisation’s fund raising efforts by helping you build stronger connections with your audience. To ensure that the stories you tell support these activities—and your calls to action are answered—you must do some strategising and planning.

Start with important dates

As you build out your year-end campaign, begin by designating the most important dates for your organisation. This could include:

  • Special events
  • Fundraising appeals
  • #GivingTuesday 2020 (1 December, 2020)
  • Holidays

Choose your key message

A key message is the main point you want your audience to take away from your story. For instance, if your organisation runs a special fundraising campaign in the spring for a kids summer camp, an example of a key message might be: “Summer camp provides kids with opportunities to gain confidence and skills that will last a lifetime.”

Find your stories

Continuing with the summer camp example, the organisation could tell stories about campers, parents of campers, or even donors who financially supported the camp. The point is to find a story that helps you best demonstrate how your organisation has created change and opportunity. How has summer camp changed a life? Keeping this in mind will help your supporters tap into why they want to help you and come up with their own fundraising idea.

Create your plan

At a very basic level, your storytelling plan needs to give you a high-level view of what stories you are telling and when.

Go multi-channel

The year-end giving season is the best time to hit all of your fundraising bases. That means you should never limit yourself to just one fundraising solicitation method. Letters, emails, phone calls, social media posts, coffee meetings—no method should go untouched during this crucial time of year.


  • Place a prominent “Donate/Give Now” button on your homepage with compelling copy about how donations make a meaningful impact
  • Update your auto-responder email to encourage donors to take further action
  • Conduct a quick search engine audit to see how your organisation shows up in organic search


  • Build a multipart email series covering a main ask, stewardship, and a last-chance-to-give message
  • Schedule a last-minute email for December 31 highlighting the tax benefits of donating

Word of Mouth

  • Send eCards to supporters, and consider sharing a blank template with your logo and branding so that they can send it to friends and family
  • Arm your supporters with pre-written emails, messaging, and graphics they can share on social media


  • Get your entire team to participate in offline stewardship. Handwritten thank-you notes and phone calls from frontline professionals can be even more impactful for donors.


Steward new and re-engaged donors

It’s one of the unspoken rules of end-of-year fundraising, but it’s still one of the most critical. In order to find success at end-of-year, you need to be cultivating your donors all year long in every channel. With the proper planning and year-round strategy, your end-of- year fundraising campaign can be the “cherry on top” of strong supporter relationships. What steps can you be taking now to set that foundation?

  • Handwritten Notes
  • Thank You Calls
  • E-Newsletters
  • Non-ask stewardship events
  • Branded Giveaways
  • Donor Visits
  • Committee Membership
  • Donor Clubs and Giving Societies


Final thought

If you can map out the above strategies in advance, you’ll be able to take things one step at a time to achieve end- of-year success. By following these steps, creating a smart strategy, and positioning your donors as the heroes of your mission, you’ll be the one making a serious impact for your organisation.



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