There are two ways to operate a fundraiser: with a well planned fundraising calendar and without one. Without a well-planned calendar, the details of a fundraiser are messy at best – and there aren’t any new donors at worst.
I’ve been writing about calendaring for years. Between laying out a seasonal marketing calendar, giving tips for sustainable marketing strategies, and teaching how to consistently create content, it is no secret that Courtney and I are super fans of a well planned marketing calendar.
Planning Fundraisers into Brand Marketing
The nuts and bolts of a successful fundraiser are marketing by a different name. If a company has fundraising goals, we always suggest choosing the dates for those fundraisers and then building in the marketing around those fundraisers throughout the year.
Creating a fundraising plan in advance offers the space to get creative. And creativity makes a big difference for a donor community.
For me, knowing that our clients want to have a fundraiser at least 3 months in advance is ideal. That gives me time to plan out a fundraiser marketing strategy without any scramble when we start executing. It gives us time to plan with our clients and get everything set up so they get the most from their charity event.
Holistic Fundraising Marketing
Because we work with social impact businesses and nonprofits, we get the chance to create content around all the good our clients do in the world. A charity event gives us the opportunity to help them get rewarded for it! But doing it right means preparing the details, letting people know ahead of time, and leading the right donors to the fundraiser. This process starts way before the actual event takes place.
When we have the date for a client’s fundraising event, we work backward to make sure that the whole donor experience feels unique and simple. These are the marketing elements that we typically suggest creating space for in your fundraising calendar.
1 – Website Content
There are three types of website content for creating an event.
- An event/product page where people can pay to sign up for the event.
- A landing page where people can sign up for information.
- An article with additional information you can share.
We suggest doing all three, but at the very least, people need to be able to sign up for the event itself. Before going live with any marketing, we make sure it is possible to sign up to attend the event.
Then, when it comes to marketing, building a landing page is vital because just telling people about your fundraiser isn’t enough. Potential donors need action and promise to take an event seriously. The landing page gives them a place to sign up to learn more about an event. Plus, we use the sign up information to send reminders later on that increase fundraiser attendance.
While we think a landing page is necessary, a blog article is a cherry on top. It’s a softer way to introduce the fundraiser to your general audience and it gives you more space to share information. A landing page has the basics, but an article offers details and creates an additional SEO opportunity for well-known fundraiser dates like Giving Tuesday. Your blog and landing page should link to each other and both of them should link to the payment page.
2 – Automated Thank You Emails
We create automated emails in tandem with landing pages and sign up forms. That way everyone who signs up gets all the information they need right away. The email inbox is also an easy place to search for the information if an attendee looking to share it.
3 – Start Publicly with a Save the Date
Typically, we send a save the date email 45-60 days before the event to everyone in the client network. This is the first step of getting the information out publicly. The goal here is to have receivers take a specific action – this could be signing up for the event directly or signing up for extra information on the landing page. This allows us to gather information that we use to send the reminders we have later on in the fundraising calendar.
4 – Add Social Media Content to the Fundraising Calendar
I don’t often talk about using social media for conversion because it isn’t a consistent way to get attention for purchasable items unless you have a huge following. However, I always suggest adding several social posts between the first ‘Save the Date’ invite and one day before the event.
It’s likely that a lot of your followers don’t follow a brand anywhere except social media so it’s important to put event information there often. Additionally, holding an event is a great way to deepen the connection with followers by pulling people into a website. There, brands collect email addresses and a good retention strategy can turn social media followers into fans for life.
5 – Networks Make the Event Louder
This is one of the fun parts of building a network as a social impact business! We use our clients’ engaged audience to make their event pop. It brings in more diverse audiences and elevates the event.
Here, we create swipe copy and email past donors, board members, and highly engaged audience members asking them to help spread the word. This works best with a personal touch from inside of the business. That’s where the hybrid marketing team excels!
6 – Reminders in a Fundraising Calendar
The attendance records for things like fundraisers, talks, classes, and open houses increase drastically with email reminders. People sometimes forget about the events they have coming up or they feel like it doesn’t matter if they go once the day comes. Sending a little reminder telling them how excited you are about their attendance is the best way to get donors in the door on the day of the event.
What is the Best Time of Year to Hold a Fundraising Event?
We’re deep diving into what we add to the fundraiser calendar in this article so I feel like it’s important to include pointers about timing throughout the year. For deeper information about year around fundraiser timing, check out this article.
Q4 needs to be on your fundraising calendar
Q4 is the best time of year for getting your donors to pull out their pocket books. Not only is it the giving season, but it’s also the end of the taxable year. More donations to charities means less taxes – just make sure that you let them know you’ll give them a claims receipt!
I can’t stress this piece enough: if you’re building your charity event into Q4 planning, you need a save the date AT LEAST two months in advance because everyone does events in Q4.
Touch base in January
Do a little touch base with your previous and potential donors in January. It’s after their holiday season, and it’s a new tax year. A lot of folks wait to donate in January because they have already hit their charitable giving for a year by the time Giving Tuesday rolls around.
Make it on your May day
Late spring feels like a random time of year for a fundraiser, I know. But listen. It’s before summer holidays so people have some savings, AND there is way less competition for donations. This could offer you a little boost before the summer slump.
Should Giving Tuesday Be Part of the Fundraising Calendar?
Yes – with a caveat. Giving Tuesday is every charity’s Black Friday. Every single charity, nonprofit, and social impact organization uses Giving Tuesday to boost their yearly donations. That puts nonprofits in competition with one another.
If you’re thinking about adding Giving Tuesday to your fundraising calendar, you’ve got to send your Save the Dates early – like mid September. That means the planning for this fundraiser calendar should start 3ish months early. Increase email reminders and entice people to donate with your organization early.
Want to talk to me about how you can set up your fundraising calendar or monthly donations? Schedule a call on my calendly.