Year-End Fundraising Tips from Nonprofit Experts – Part 1: First Steps


19 Nov
19Nov

For many, this time of year ushers in a sense of completion and a time for reflection of the past 12 months.  However, for those in the nonprofit world, the end of the year is a time when they dig deep for the final fundraising push.  With 30% of all funds being donated in the month of December, nonprofits need to be on top of their fundraising game to close their year on solid financial footing.

This month, I am so excited to share end-of-the-year fundraising tips and insight from three women who have a wonderful collection of knowledge and experience in the nonprofit sector.  In fact, they had so many great thoughts on the subject, that this will be a two-part blog event.  To begin, let’s hear what they say are three important areas to focus on first when planning a nonprofit year-end fundraising campaign.

Nikki Panico, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen Wisconsin, suggests that one of the keys to end-of-year fundraising is to start early, even months in advance, “For many years, we left the planning of this important month until the very end. However, planning out the details well in advance improves your donor engagement and increases the amount raised.” Panico believes that the advance planning also allows Komen Wisconsin to capitalize on marketing strategies, “We try and have a matching donor and have a really achievable goal that we use in all messaging. We also segment our messages to various audiences.”

As Executive Director of Middleton Outreach Ministry, MOM, Ellen Carlson understands the unique circumstances nonprofit organizations face at year-end, “I like to think about this time of year as the last miles of a marathon instead of a leg of a sprint. That said, there are so many messages that bombard people at this time of year - how do you compete?”  Carlson suggests using your own nonprofit story to differentiate your organization from others, “Good stories that honestly reflect your impact, and that weave in your values, and that are supported by good simple design (and not distracted by bad design) will stand out.”

Development and Community Relations Manager for Community Living Connections and Co-Chair of Fishing Has No Boundaries – Madison Chapter, Jennifer Brendler, has experience in reaching various communities of supporters.  Brendler reminds fundraisers to know their audience, “They are more than just a donor.  It's important to know how they came to your organization, and why they decided to support your mission.”  Once the audience is identified, Brendler suggests a personal message, “Make sure to write your appeal so they personally want to read it.  Your message to them needs to directly address things they care about!”

Strategic planning, excellent storytelling and audience identification are helpful examples of what a nonprofit fundraising professional should have on the top of their to-do list this time of year.  Organization and personalization work in tandem to create a smart and efficient year-end fundraising campaign.  Be sure to check out Part 2 (Link to Part 2), when we learn more about how these nonprofit experts take advantage of social media use and fundraising follow-up.


Susan G. Komen Wisconsin is an affiliate of Susan G. Komen, one of the world’s largest breast cancer organizations.  Based in Milwaukee, Komen Wisconsin supports breast health programming and education across Wisconsin, and funds national breast cancer research. 

Middleton Outreach Ministry, MOM, was formed to provide “action and advocacy” for food and housing security.  Serving West Madison, Middleton and Cross Plains, MOM operates one of Dane County’s largest food pantries, offers housing stability assistance and organizes a senior chore assistance and ride program.

Community Living Connections supports individuals with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities and seniors who wish to live as independently as possible in their own homes.

Fishing Has No Boundaries is a national organization whose goal is to open up the great outdoors for people with disabilities through the world of fishing.  Fishing Has No Boundaries – Madison Chapter provides recreational fishing opportunities for all anglers with disabilities regardless of their age, race, gender, or disability.

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