Campaign planning in three key stages for your big end of year campaign

Tereza Litsa
Digital Engagement Manager
15 Oct 2020

It’s the perfect time to start planning your end of year or Christmas campaign.

And it’s more important than ever to raise vital funds for their cause while also engaging their supporters and donors.

Whether you’re working for a small charity or a large nonprofit organisation, there are still a series of steps to follow over the next months.

Our very own Haydn Thomas, digital fundraising expert, delivered an insightful session for our brand new BRIDGE cohort in partnership with the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund.

We are supporting 90 nonprofits across the US to boost their digital fundraising skills with a series of masterclasses, coaching and strategy sessions over a period of 6 months.

Here are the key takeaways from the session.

The planning starts today

Start the planning today for your upcoming end of year campaign if you haven’t already done so. Here are a series of steps to follow over the next couple of months.

Getting the theory right

First of all, it’s important to start with the theory. You need to know what your current and potential supporters are interested in and what they expect from you. It’s more about them than you.

  • Personas: who do you want to reach with your campaign? Confirm your personas and your target audience with your team. Use your CRM data, past marketing insights, social listening, network analysis and survey research to understand your target audience.
  • Issues related to your mission: Your mission should consist of issues (stories) that describe it. Work on your themes and how they are relevant to your overall mission.
  • Campaign products: Think about what your campaign could look like. Your campaign product is the way you package your calls to action. For example, you can run a matched funding campaign, sponsoring a beneficiary, etc
  • Hypotheses: Start with assumptions based on what worked in the past and what you want to try out next.

Use your current learnings to build your hypotheses and think about how you want to validate them in your next campaigns.

The more you work on all the above, the easier it becomes at the next stages.

Know what’s possible

Right after getting the theory right, you want to understand what’s feasible based on your objectives, your team, your resources, or even the practical bits of the campaign.

Here are some ideas on what to review during that stage:

  • Experiences: Look at your current experiences and work on your calls to action, your supporter and donor journeys and any templates you’ll need to create.
  • Targeting: Who do you want to target? Link this to your personas. Why do you choose them? Look at past behaviour, demographics, or current databases. What’s the best way to target them? Explore the channels that are more relevant (social media ads, email marketing, influencer marketing, etc)
  • Tools: Which tools are you planning to use? Are there any limitations? Are you able to access your data when needed?
  • Data quality: How is your data looking? Are you able to dive into this to get the most out of your audience?

Start working on organising your journeys, your stories, but also your copy and creatives.

Everybody should know their job

Work with your team on a centralised plan that covers every task and every person.

Know the capacity of your collaborators over the next 2-3 months.

It’s important to define the decision-making points at each stage in the supporter journey and the campaign.

In other words, in this stage you should be able to:

  • Have documented ideas that you think they’ll work
  • Consider these ideas in the context of the tools you have
  • Review your capacity and how they affect your ideas
  • Know how and when you need to make decisions

One month before the campaign

Early in November, you must have established the foundation and have an achievable plan.

It’s time to make decisions on:

  • Variations: work on variations around your copy, your assets, and the channels you want to use. For example, you can A/B test whether your call-to-action is more effective with a particular image or a video. Or you can create different variations of your copy to find the messaging that resonates with your supporters. The more you work on variations, the easier it becomes to find out what’s working for your target audience. Remember, your variations should reflect one change per testing so that you avoid any confusion by having too many changes.
  • Scope of work: Work on assigned tasks and bring the team together to confirm the best way to be effective with the campaign. Do you need to work together on the copy? Is someone else creating the content for email? Who is setting up your ads?
  • Plans and timeline: Start testing your processes and work on a plan for the next month. Use project management tools like Trello and JIRA to improve internal collaboration without missing key dates coming up.

Two weeks before the campaign

Before you launch your campaign, make sure that you work on the soft launch.

Here is what you should do during the soft launch:

  • Get all the processes and journeys ready
  • Test variations with 10-25% of your existing supporters
  • Test your decision-making protocol
  • Make sure all your assets and messaging are ready

The more you test your copy, your assets, and your hypotheses the easier it will become to work towards your objectives.


Everything should start with a shared understanding of what’s possible.

We all need to remember that innovation and campaign management are team sports.

If we have to summarise campaign planning in three stages we would pick

  • Planning
  • Variations
  • Optimisation

We need all of the three stages to ensure our campaign is successful.

Good luck with your next campaign!

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