Building a Fundraising Calendar from a Marketing Perspective

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.

And yes. Our calendar fanclub extends to the nonprofit fundraising calendar.

What does Planning a Fundraiser have to do with your Marketing?

We’re a marketing agency. What the heck do we know about planning your fundraising calendar? A lot actually. Because the nuts and bolts of a successful fundraiser is marketing by a different name.

Take it from me, when you create a fundraising plan in advance and stick to your calendar, your marketing team breathes a sigh of relief. They have the time to get creative. And this makes all the difference.

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 strategy for pulling in more people without any scramble when it comes to executing that strategy. It gives us time to plan with our clients and get everything absolutely perfect so that they get the most from their charity event.

Full Scale 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 two ways to look at website content when it comes to creating an event. Creating a landing page where people can sign up and creating an article with additional information you can share. We typically suggest at least one, if not both.

The landing page is the most important because just telling people about your fundraiser isn’t enough these days. Donors need action and promise to take you seriously. So give them a place to sign up or purchase tickets to your fundraiser. Not only that, but we use the sign up information to send reminders later on that increase fundraiser attendance.

While 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!

2 – Automated Thank You Emails

We also create automated emails in tandem with landing pages and sign up forms. We test and launch them before we launch any page publicly. That way everyone who signs up gets all the information they need right away.

3 – Start Publicly with a Save the Date

Two months before the event, send out a save the date email invitation to everyone you know. We always like to have receivers take an action – this could be signing up on your landing page, or clicking a button in the email (or both). This allows us to gather information that we can use to send reminders later on in your fundraising calendar.  

4 – Add Social Media Content to your 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 your Save the Date invite and 1 day before your event.

It’s likely that a lot of your followers don’t follow you anywhere except social media – and most people on a business’s social media aren’t purchasers. Holding an event is a great way to deepen the connection with this group and pull people into a website, where a retention strategy takes over.

5 – A Plan to Make the Voice Louder

This is like a mini influencer campaign and this is one of the fun parts of building a network as a social impact business! We love using the engaged audience that our clients have to make their event pop!

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, and that’s where the hybrid marketing team excels!

6 – Add Reminders to Your Fundraising Calendar

The attendance records for things like fundraisers, talks, classes, and open houses increase drastically if you send an email reminder. People sometimes forget about the events they have coming up or they feel like it doesn’t really 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.

What is the Best Time of Year to Hold a Fundraising Event?

So we’re deep diving into fundraiser calendar planning in this article so I feel like I need to offer a few pointers about timing throughout the year.

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.

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.

What Days to Avoid for on your Fundraising Calendar?

Truthfully, you can build a fundraiser for your business into any part of the year you want as long as you do it right. There are only a few specific days to avoid.  

Holidays Avoid actual holidays. People want to be with their communities on holidays and planning their own parties and feasts – which are expensive. Even if you have a turn out, it’s likely that your donors offer a little less.

Summer vacation dates. For one thing, people are gone – either physically or mentally. And they’re treating themselves to a vacation. It’s a selfish time of year.

Tax Season. This is a little bit of a double-edged sword. While you could play the “donations give tax breaks” card, people know donating to you won’t help them in the now. Wait until after tax season – like early to mid may – when people have their returns or want to lock in charitable donations.

Should you add Giving Tuesday to your 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 means you’ve got to COMPETE!

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. So you better be preparing right now. (This article is from early September). Up your reminders and entice people to donate with your organization early.

Consider adding a monthly donation to support your fundraising calendar

Okay, I’m going to leave you with one last piece of advice for creating a year long fundraising calendar from my marketing perspective. Don’t leave money on the table. People are willing to support social and environmental causes all year around. And, although it feels a little counter intuitive, an organization’s monthly donors will often be their biggest supporters when it comes to a big fundraising event!

Want to talk to me about how you can set up your fundraising calendar or monthly donations? Schedule a call on my calendly here:


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