CHECKLIST: 12 Steps For Stress-Free Year-End Fundraising

Did you know nearly one-third of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December? But there’s no need to stress out. Use our year-end fundraising checklist to get organized.


It’s true! About one-third of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December, which this one of the most important fundraising periods for many nonprofits around the world.

Here is a 12-step checklist to help raise money for your nonprofit mission during this pivotal time of year:

✓ Set a SMART goal.

How much money do you need to raise? This figure should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Bound). Watch our webinar to brush up on goal-setting basics.

✓ Determine your budget.

You may have to spend money to raise money. Does your nonprofit have a print and/or advertising budget for the campaign? If not, can you obtain pro bono advertising or earned media for your campaign? To save time on press outreach, use our sample press release template.

✓ Assemble your fundraising team.

Who will help you achieve your goal? Identify your team and organize a kick-off brainstorming meeting with them at least three months before your campaign launch date. Include anyone who has a role to play in your year-end campaign. You may want to schedule separate brainstorming meetings with different staff members or volunteers, depending on their campaign roles. To develop a year-end plan with your team, use GlobalGiving’s free online fundraising worksheet.

✓ Develop a campaign timeline.

This is one of the first actions you should take as the leader of a year-end campaign. What appeals will you send? To whom? And when? Typically, year-end appeals start around October and end on Dec. 31, the last day that US donors can claim a tax-deduction for a donation made in the closing year. GlobalGiving, for example, launched its year-end campaign on #GivingTuesday (it falls on Nov. 28 this year). What role will #GivingTuesday play in your campaign? Check out this article to see how you can use #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to ask for recurring donations and stabilize your nonprofit’s budget year-round.

✓ Segment your communications.

Develop donor segments, each with separate communications strategies and tailored asks. For example, you may want to ask one-time donors to become recurring donors. Or ask high-end donors to contribute larger amounts based on their giving capacity.

✓ Set clear deadlines and roles.

Determine roles and deadlines for team members ahead of your campaign launch, and make sure everyone is aware of their assigned roles. Who will draft campaign materials? Who will design them? Who will review them before they are published? Who will collect and share data about your campaign’s performance? These are all must-answer questions.

✓ Create campaign assets.

Draft and design the content for your campaign as far in advance as possible, and be sure to include time for peer review of all year-end campaign assets.

✓ Show your impact.

Remember the importance of high-quality pictures and good storytelling as you draft your email and social media content. It’s important to show how your work is making the world a better place, and how your supporters are making a meaningful difference with their gifts. You can find photo tips here and social media tips here.

✓ Make it urgent.

Incorporate a sense of urgency into all of your communications, along with an unmistakable ask for a donation. Urgency can be achieved by showing the undeniable need for your organization, and, ideally, a fundraising deadline. If you are participating in the GlobalGiving Year-End Campaign, definitely include clear giving deadlines and emphasize the bonus prizes.

✓ Recruit and equip fundraising advocates.

Fundraising advocates can amplify your impact and help you reach your fundraising goal. Advocates commit to raising a certain amount of money for your year-end campaign through their personal network of family and friends. They distribute information about your campaign through social media, email, and events. Volunteers, long-standing donors, board members, and others who know and support your nonprofit make great advocates. Be sure to equip your advocates with fundraising tools, such as sample emails and social media posts about your campaign. Watch our network-mapping webinar to understand how to identify fundraising advocates.

✓ Track your progress.

Schedule check-in meetings with relevant team members at key intervals throughout your campaign, such as the end of the week. Regularly share campaign metrics and assess whether you need to pivot your fundraising strategy. These check-ins are also an important opportunity to motivate your team and keep spirits high. Fundraising is hard work, and we all need encouragement along the way!

✓ Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.

Share your final campaign results with your team and send a timely, heartfelt thank you to every donor! And remember to Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. with your constituents, donors, and year-end team. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your next year-end campaign, and it’s important to document the important lessons you’ll learn this time around.

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Featured Photo: Empower East African Refugee Youth in Uganda by Soccer Without Borders

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