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Taking the Stress Out of an End-Of-Year Giving Campaign

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You have enough going on at the end of the year. You have family obligations during the holidays. You have a busy schedule at church. You have once-a-year community events you want to take part in.

You don’t have time for an end-of-year giving campaign.

But your church really needs one.

You have people in your church who want to give. Some of them are trying to lower their tax responsibilities. Others are following all the cultural signals and thinking hard about giving back during this special holiday season.

The end of the year can be an incredibly stressful time, but it’s an amazing opportunity to encourage people to give.

Why are end-of-year giving campaigns so stressful?

One of the most important reasons holiday-giving campaigns can stress church leaders out is that many hope that a big push at the end of the year will wipe out any budget shortfalls for the year. There’s a lot of pressure, as so much is riding on just over a month of giving.

Plus, your church staff (or volunteer base) is usually running thinner because there are so many events to plan for during the end-of-year period, and many people plan for vacation time during the holiday season.

You’re not competing against other non-profits. You want them to succeed so they can help people alongside you in your community. But the fact is, your congregants have a limited amount of money to donate during the holiday season. Understanding that reality will certainly add stress.

The power of planning ahead

The key to a successful, stress-free end-of-year giving campaign is not to wait until the last minute to get started. The earlier you start, the less stress you’ll face in those short few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. How early you start will depend upon your church’s unique size and situation, but three months is a good ballpark figure. That will give you enough time to map out a strategy and get your church’s leadership to buy in.

As you get started, take some time to review last year’s campaign results. (In a best-case scenario, you took a deep dive into the campaign metrics in January while it’s fresh, and you’re simply using your notes to refresh yourself.) Take note of what worked and what didn’t.

In the earliest stages of your planning process, take some time to map out all of your deadlines across your communications channels (church bulletin, mobile app, website, fliers, social media, etc.). Make sure you figure in how much lead time each of those communication types will require. Build in extra time for hiccups (because you will have them!) and for approvals.

If you have a small team, consider bringing in some volunteers to help throughout the campaign. Even if you have a larger team, involving volunteers in the process early on will help you build momentum (and take some of the pressure off of your staff).

Strategies to help you de-stress your campaign

While there is no exhaustive list of ways to take the stress out of end-of-year giving campaigns, these five ideas will give you a good start.

  • Automate as many campaign tasks as possible. Part of what makes campaigns so stressful is the large number of moving parts to keep track of, many of which need to be executed in a relatively short amount of time at the end of the year. The good news is that technology now lets us set some of those tasks on autopilot. E-mails, social media posts, and giving receipts are all easy (and important) to automate.
  • Reduce extra mailings/events and focus on what works. That’s why it was important in the preparation stage to review last year’s results. You don’t need to do everything to make your campaign successful. Do what was successful in the past. You can innovate, but center the bulk of your time on what gets the most results.
  • Make sure your donation processing system is seamless. Ensure you have an online giving provider that can handle the volume and kind of donation processing you’ll need. Hiccups in this part will add a mountain of extra stress to your campaign. Check on this early in the process.
  • Have backup plans if your giving goals aren’t met. Much of the stress of these campaigns relates to the consequences of not meeting goals. Make sure your leadership has a Plan B if the goal isn’t reached—whether it’s another way to raise funds or a list of budgeted items that can be cut. This means you’ll be able to adjust the goal along the way if problems arise.
  • Take time for self-care during the campaign. Put a day or two you’ll take off (at least) on the calendar at the beginning of the campaign. Get away from all of the campaign craziness during those days. At the very least, make sure you’re taking full advantage of normal days off (such as weekends).

You won’t regret a well-run, stress-free end-of-year giving campaign. Not only are you more likely to meet your goals, but you and your team won’t get burned out in the process.

With a little foresight and care, you can run a stress-free campaign this year and set yourself up for an even better experience next year.

Need help getting started?

Download the Year-End Giving toolkit that includes a 6 week email campaign, templates for other mediums, graphics, and more.


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