Reevaluate your year-end campaign and get the details right

As we swing into year-end campaign season, be sure not to stick with "same-old same-old."

Capacity Partners engineered a hugely successful end-of-year campaign for a food pantry in the Dc area several years ago by restructuring their approach and attending to important details. The result was double what the organization had raised the prior year.

Here are some keys:

Segment your donor list. Use tools like wealth screening, giving history, and personal knowledge to structure your approach. For this campaign, the categories were:

  • Visionary, meaning major donors ($1,000+), who were asked to make a larger contribution;
  • Monthly Ask, donors who gave more than once annually but were unpredictable, who were asked to become monthly contributors;
  • Additional Gift, donors who already made an annual contribution and were asked to make an additional gift; and
  • Lapsed donors, who had not given in more than a year and were asked t once again support the organization.

Tailor your communications and try to keep it personal so you stand out in a crowd. The organization sent a different letter for each segment. The executive director hand-signed each one. The letters were hand-stamped with first-class postage.

Don't be afraid to increase the frequency of your solicitations. People are busy especially during the holidays. Getting a reminder about your organization's campaign may be just the nudge they need to commit. Send at least three communications between the week before Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

Use multiple platforms (email, social media, website content, mailed hard-copy letter) to advance your campaign, but be sure they all deploy a consistent look that emphasizes the theme and message at the heart of your year-end campaign. For example, the successful campaign designed by Capacity Partners was built around brief, emotional testimonials.

Remember that you've got lots of suupporters out there who care about what you do. Don't let the woes of the economy or the late date slow you down. Get going! You are needed.

Many Voices

Many Voices

CONSULTING AREA: Organizational strategic planning & Fundraising strategy

Mary Robinson’s brilliant guidance carried us to an unexpected and exciting outcome, and we now have much greater clarity about where we are headed and how to move forward.

– Ann Thompson Cook, Co-Director, Many Voices


Many Voices was initially founded to create a safe space for Protestant clergy and congregations to learn how to welcome gay and transgender persons. As an early stage start-up, Many Voices needed an organizational strategic plan, and they decided to work with Capacity Partners because of Mary Robinson’s proven experience in both organizational strategy and fund development.

Key Challenges

Creating a strategic plan was especially challenging for Many Voices due to the breadth of its initial mission statement and the absence of a board of directors. Furthermore, the plan needed to include a strong focus on financial sustainability. In addition, the founder – a visionary activist and experienced nonprofit leader – wanted input on the plan from nationally recognized thought leaders. While these individuals knew the founder, they were not familiar with Many Voices.

Services Provided

Over the course of a year, Capacity Partners worked closely with the founder, team members, and an assembly of industry experts to forge a strategic plan. Staff created initial drafts of the plan’s core components, and then a retreat was held in Washington, DC, with industry experts from across the country. Working groups were then established to tackle various portions of the plan. After guiding the strategic planning process, Mary Robinson turned to the creation of a development strategy, an effort that included interviewing potential major donors, stakeholders, and professionals working in similar spaces. Capacity Partners then recommended a candidate for the position of director of development who was subsequently hired to implement the fundraising strategy.


The strategic planning process was transformational for Many Voices. The three most important outcomes were: 1) a powerful revision of the mission to focus directly upon creating a national movement for gay and transgender justice from within the Black church; 2) the emergence of an exceptional staff person who was appointed co-director with the founder; 3) the creation of a strategic plan to use with funders and potential board members — and as an internal launch pad for more detailed operational planning.