October is just around the corner, which means we’re looking ahead in our series on monthly preparations for the year’s busiest fundraising season. (Psst. See our September post first.)

Continue your year-end fundraising preparation this October with these steps.

1. Finalize your beneficiary story (or stories).

In August, you spent time speaking with beneficiaries to gather stories of how their lives are better as a result of your organization’s work. In September, you decided on the story and wrote the first draft of your direct mail appeal. Now is the time to finalize this piece (which we believe to be the anchor of your year-end campaign).

Obtain feedback and internal approval from your team/leadership – as well as the beneficiary whose story you’re telling. If segmenting your direct mail piece by donor type, consider adding a dynamic sentence or two (i.e., a sentence that changes for each letter that the print/mail house inserts during the mail merge) that personalizes the letter to a donor’s history with your organization. Then start gathering additional pieces you’ll need to accompany the story: A photocopy of the signee’s signature, images of the beneficiary (if you didn’t already obtain them) and more.

2. Design wireframes for your website, direct mail and email appeals.

Start considering and laying out the design for all campaign channels, including your donation page, direct mail appeal and emails. While you might not have all the assets you need to complete your design, building wireframes can help speed up the process later by highlighting the locations of special sections like pull quotes, images, icons and more.

Since the direct mail is the anchor to your campaign, we suggest starting here first. Then, to ensure your campaign pieces have a cohesive feel, tailor the design for email and your donation page.

3. Format your data for the print/mail house.

Remember in September when you met with and chose your print/mail house? If your chosen vendor supplied you with a template for your mailing data, start moving over addresses and formatting now. Besides typical contact information, don’t forget other types of dynamic or segmented content you might have included in your direct mail that need to be included in your data – like suggested donation amounts based on their last gift, or donor-specific sentences within the body of the direct mail.

If your vendor helps you with database maintenance like address verification and de-duping, they may require your data a few weeks early – so make sure you know the deadline (and stick to it).

4. Set your schedule.

After analysis in August, you started laying out your strategy in September, including setting your fundraising goals (overall and by channel), theme and more. Now you need to determine the schedule and cadence for solicitations over each channel through the end of the year.

Keep yourself on track by creating a master calendar with expected drop/send dates for your direct mail, email solicitations and social ad sets; anticipated budgets; and due dates for assets like landing pages.

Year-end fundraising is fast approaching! Make the process a breeze with our month-by-month approach.

Want more tips to boost your fundraising efforts? Download our year-end planning guide here.