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Top 10 Tips for a Successful Campaign Plan

Thinking about your fundraising calendar for a whole year doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Put it together one piece at a time and watch your goals fall into place!

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The best way to think about planning a campaign is to envision a calendar – and better yet – to get a physical calendar and mark things down on it. This way you can see exactly what you need to do, and when. But before you even get your calendar, there are a few points to consider. Let’s run through them:

  • Who is your audience? This will vary for each appeal that you send out, but before you mark a campaign on your calendar we’d recommend also indicating who that campaign will get sent to. A few of the obvious choices for audience include: current donors, lapsed donors, and long lapsed donors.
  • What is the goal of your campaign? What amount of capital do you need to make for the campaign to be considered successful? Do you want to secure a certain amount of new donors? Going into a campaign with a clear goal allows you to fully plan for success!

Once you know the audiences you want to reach and the goal of your campaign, you can start thinking about the specifics.

  • Grab a calendar for a full year. It doesn’t matter if it goes from January to December, July to June, or September to August. You want to think about the whole year at this point.
  • Think of your plan in three categories: Renewal, Stewardship, and Acquisition. You want to go into your year confident you have thought of everything. These three categories really make up all the pieces of a long-term, sustainable program.
  • Mark the direct mail “asks” on your calendar. Think about your organization’s history – when are your donors most active, or most generous? You can ask at least 5 – 6 times in a year without exhausting your donors. Remember, your donors feel good when they give!
  • Add the stewardship campaigns to your calendar. This includes reports and thank you cards, as well as phone calls, surveys, newsletters, videos – whichever method works best for your org and your donors.
  • Don’t forget the acquisition campaigns. Develop a plan to make a connection with new donors, to increase their lifetime value and commitment to your organization.
  • Add the “back out” dates to your calendar. When do you need to have the letter copy completed? How about the designer – when do they need to have graphics ready? And how much time does the printer or mail-house need to complete all the production? Planning all these details ahead of time will hopefully make your campaign run smoothly!
  • Analysis – When does that get done? Mark your calendar for about 7 to 8 weeks after a campaign is scheduled to send. This gives enough time for responses to come in, and allows for time to adjust the next campaign.
  • Everything else. This can be added to your calendar at any time, but make sure you mark down your multichannel touches. Think email messages, social media posts, text-to-donate reminders, and even events or webinars.

By putting together a complete campaign calendar for the year you are building a comprehensive strategy for success! And if putting together a calendar for the year is overwhelming, you can use the same strategy for just one campaign! Seeing a plan mapped out makes it more likely that you’ll accomplish your campaign goals. Good luck, and happy planning!

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