How Compass Family Services hits EOY fundraising goals

The holiday giving season is always a huge time for nonprofit fundraising. People are inspired to give and give big at the end of year. It’s a powerful time to reach donors and expand your donor community while raising awareness of your organization’s mission. Half of US nonprofit organizations earn the majority of their total annual revenue from October to December. 30% of all US giving happens in December.*

So how do you make sure you’re hitting your fundraising goals before the end of the year comes? Learn from Stacy Webb, Communications and Corporate Relations Manager at Compass Family Services in San Francisco. Below he shares his four key tips in how to prepare for and survive the end of year fundraising bonanza.

Tie things together for your donors through the entire year

End of year fundraising planning should really begin in January. Your strategy for the first half of the year should tie in with the second half. At Compass, we have quite a few colliding events toward the end the year so it’s important for us to plan our donor communications well in advance. For example, the donors who support our Compass Children’s Center Scholarship Fund receive an invitation to the graduation ceremony end of year. That’s a perfect and targeted opportunity to engage current donors just before the holiday season.

Make sure there is common thread among the communications and needs you share with your donors. Such as, if you invite donors to give to a holiday-themed program, don’t follow up with an ask to give to a summer camp. It just feels disjointed in your greater narrative. Keep in mind as you create giving options to communicate how they work together and create impact for the recipients.

Have a menu of options

As most nonprofits do, Compass has donors who give at many different levels and in many different ways. Approaching the holiday season, we provide different ways to give that work for anyone’s budget from large donations to in-kind.

Compass’ main holiday program is Adopt-a-Family, where donors can support an entire family’s holiday wish list. It’s an incredibly powerful way to give that supports families in both spirit and basic needs. The contribution ranges from $500 - $700, which can be a large contribution for some individual donors. For them, we offer other ways to give like a crowdfunding campaign on HandUp for family needs or the opportunity to host a hygiene or a healthy snack drive. It means all of our donors can be involved and make a difference at many levels.

Providing a menu of giving options also allows us to maximize donor efforts. Like with our board of directors, each director can do outreach around one specific program or need. It streamlines our outreach efforts and drives donors to the right place for them to give.

Leverage donors attention to education - and promote year round giving

The holidays are one of few times you have the full attention of your donors. Use that to educate them on your efforts and needs, build empathy, and convert them to year-round supporters. Part of our job as human service professionals is to help create awareness about our organization’s mission. When we are successful, donors feel better understanding the full extent of an organization’s needs to better serve participants. And converting donors from end-of-year to year-round giving means you’ve created an advocate for your mission that goes beyond the holidays.

Running our Adopt-a-Family program is a pretty large undertaking and it requires Compass Family Services to increase operational expenses. Last year we added a $100 donation on top of the wish list gifts for Adopt-a-Family donors. It allowed us to explain how much this would help us increase our capabilities not just during the holidays but also year-round. By explaining Compass' needs more holistically, donors learned that needs for our families go beyond the holidays and were more enthusiastic about supporting year-round expenses. Many of these conversations converted donors into our annual fund supporters too.

Give donors a clear place with a purpose to give online

As you think about implementing a variety of fundraising tactics, it is super important that you have a clear place to point donors online. For us, the basic ‘donate’ page just doesn’t cut it - it’s hard to showcase educational and needs-based information in a meaningful way. That’s why we use HandUp Campaigns to augment our offline fundraising programs and increase our online fundraising efforts.

One of the reasons we love using HandUp Campaigns is that it gives us an easy-to-set-up crowdfunding campaign that is meaningful and is a much nicer experience overall for our donors. We can respond and send updates to our donors through the platform, encourage our donors, board members and other champions to use their referral links, and track how engaged our donors are during a campaign. Check out this summer campaign for Camp Compass - our youth camp program We’re excited to launch our next campaign just in time for the holidays.



Stacy Webb leads all communications and corporate relations at Compass Family Services in San Francisco. Serving the city for over 100 years, Compass supports families facing homelessness as they transition from crisis to economic stability.


Learn more about how HandUp can help you meet your holiday fundraising goals at