Year-End Fundraising Tips from Nonprofit Experts - Part 2: How and Why?


19 Nov
19Nov

This month, I decided to reach out to three nonprofit rock stars here in Wisconsin to find out what they value in a year-end fundraising campaign.  Ellen Carlson from Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM), Nikki Panico from Susan G. Komen Wisconsin and Jennifer Brendler from Community Living Connections and Fishing Has No Boundaries contributed such great ideas for this discussion that I divided their wisdom into two entries.  The first article covered what beginning steps nonprofits should consider when crafting a year-end fundraising campaign.  It can be found here, (LINK to Part 1).  In this second installment, the fundraising professionals talk more about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of a successful December ask. 

Executive Director of MOM, Ellen Carlson elaborates on the idea of fundraising as a marathon and not a sprint, “That marathon doesn't end on December 31.  After someone chooses to give your organization a gift, even more important is the follow-up.”  Carlson reminds us how a personal and intentional show of gratitude can strengthen a donor relationship into the new year and beyond, “A good thank you note that tells another story of impact, and then strong communications that follow into the new year will make next year's end of year just another step in the even longer marathon of doing all we can to serve our community.”

Nikki Panico, Executive Director of Komen Wisconsin puts out the call for creativity, “Go wild on social media and do something crazy!  Social media has become one of the nonprofit world’s most valuable communication tools.  It allows us to connect with our supporters in a way we weren’t able to before.”  Panico continues, “Our 2018 campaign was me, the Executive Director, dressed up as a pink flamingo.  We took that flamingo everywhere asking people if they ‘Were In’ for the 2018 end of year goal.  We did so much engagement through our Facebook live events, email blasts and social media sharing.  It kept our audience engaged and interested amidst a very crowded space of all non-profits asking for donations at the same time.  Our posting and teasers gave donors something to look forward to (where was Nikki going to be in that pink Flamingo costume?).  The pink flamingo ‘Are You In’ campaign was our best campaign yet.”  Another social media suggestion from the ED, “Hold any kind of contest or challenge — it doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s fun, funky, and different.”

Finally, Jennifer Brendler, Development and Community Relations Manager at Community Living Connections and Co-Chair of Fishing Has No Boundaries – Madison Chapter, reminds nonprofit fundraisers about the mindset behind giving at this time of year, “This is an opportunity for your existing supporters to show their support. Fundraisers sometimes feel uncomfortable asking for money, they predict the audience will feel annoyed or irritated to be asked for "MORE money, AGAIN?!" Not true. Your donors give because they want to, not because they feel coerced.  They give because they already believe in your cause!”  Brendler offers practical advice from an interesting perspective, “This holiday season, remember you are sharing an opportunity for your constituents to support something they already believe in. You just need to communicate the opportunity, with a message that speaks to their heart.”

So, as the end of the year quickly approaches, these three talented professionals remind our nonprofit peers to be purposefully thankful, outrageously creative and emotionally connected to donors.  December offers a great opportunity to imaginatively engage with new supporters and strengthen existing bonds that will carry into the new year.  
Wishing you a successful campaign and a well-supported new year!


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.

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. 

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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