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Updated: Jul 18, 2023

If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you know there are three hills I will die on:

  1. Donor relations work.

  2. Planning is the key to success.

  3. Cheese dip is the source of life and all things good. Or maybe bourbon.

Today, we are going to focus on #2 – planning. I’ve espoused the merits of planning previously on my blog (click HERE to read), but today I’m going to take a little deeper dive and talk about phase two of planning.

Phase one, as outlined in my earlier blog post (click HERE to read), is pondering the basics – why should we do this, and do we have the resources (time, money, human) to make it feasible? Phase two is what happens after you decide, yes, it *is* feasible. It covers the next steps to prep a campaign launch.

The absolute first thing you must do is set your monetary goal and the campaign timeline. For example, “We need to raise $30,000, and we will run the campaign in September.” Next, at least 6-8 weeks before the campaign launch, walk through these 8 steps:

1. Decide how you will raise the money. Direct mail? Email? Social media? All or some combo of these? The components you choose will affect your campaign prep timeline and workflow.

2. Identify your donor segments – who can and would give to this campaign? Then use this FREE worksheet to map your donor tiers. Mapping your donor tiers gives you a realistic view of whether you have the donor base to support your campaign. Ideally, the lead gift would be one-third to one-half of the overall campaign goal, and you could leverage it as a matching gift. The lead gift would require an in-person ask of either a business or an individual. Your worksheet might look like this:


3. Delegate tasks to your team. Can board members help solicit gifts and make thank-you calls? Can volunteers write thank you notes? Who will write the copy? Who will send the emails and post social posts? Who will enter cash donations into your CRM? Do you need a consultant (like The Nonprofit Maven :) ) to help oversee the campaign and write copy?

4. Plan your stewardship strategy, i.e. how you will thank your donors. Will different segments receive different thanks? Who will be completing the various parts of the plan?

5. Replenish supplies such as letterhead, envelopes, cards, etc. to carry you through the campaign. You don’t want to run out halfway through your fundraising!

6. Clean up your email and mailing lists. Run a duplicate check. Update addresses. Make additions. a dupe check and general cleanup of your email and mail lists.

7. Gather your mission stories of how donations are used and have them ready to go for your appeals. Ideally, you will need 4-6 stories - with pictures - for a month-long campaign.

8. Start writing your copy. For emails, I always recommend starting with the first week and then writing as the campaign proceeds because you may need to adjust text along the way (i.e. updating the goal or match). You also want to have all your thank yous ready to go BEFORE the campaign starts so they can be sent ASAP following a gift.

NOTE: If you are using direct mail, this copy must be written well in advance to allow time for printing and mailing. Minimally, you want to give yourself 6 weeks (preferably 8) for a direct mail to be produced.

Now you’re ready to launch!

You can download a FREE printout of the 8 workflow stages above HERE (note, the download is geared to a year-end campaign but works for all campaigns!).

Questions? Need help planning and executing your fundraising campaigns? Give me a shout at or book a FREE CALL to discuss HERE.

Happy Campaigning!

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