School has started, there’s pumpkin spice in the air, Halloween decorations are sneaking into view, and that only means one thing: you’re about to enter the busiest time of year. As we approach the final stretch of the year, it becomes crucial to prepare for the ‘year-end push’.
For most organizations in the nonprofit and foundation space, the last quarter of the year is typically the busiest. Amidst juggling priorities, workloads, and holiday festivities, it often feels like there is an overwhelming amount to accomplish and limited time to do so. Are you prepared for the year-end push?
Confirm your main challenges
We’re exploring the most common challenges that organizations face when it comes to wrapping up the last quarter of the year and planning for the next one. These challenges generally fall into the following three buckets.
As this year’s strategic plans head towards the finish line, you’ve got a ton to do. With team members, experts and stakeholders planning fall events and winter vacations, it’s generally hard to imagine having enough time to get it all done.
Human and budgeting resources are both difficult to manage. People are stretched, and as budgets tighten up or run low, you may have potentially less to work with than you’d originally planned.
Within digital communications alone, it feels like everything is a priority; however, other departments and leadership have their own end-of-year priorities that are also coming your way. You’re struggling to manage what is going to have the greatest impact while supporting others’ priorities as well.
Tackle your immediate priorities
The four major priorities to focus on for your digital communications in the last quarter of the year are: content strategy, outreach strategy, reporting strategy, and 2024 planning.
Where do you need to focus your editorial efforts? Communicate internally with your team, set realistic goals, and to get help where you can.
How are you reaching out to your target audiences? Strike the right balance and don’t be afraid to take a few creative risks.
How can you package your data in the most impactful way? Have your KPIs guide you and communicate clearly what your leadership needs to know. Here’s a helpful guide to getting started.
How can your end-of-year push support your 2024 planning? To effectively juggle tasks, loop next year’s planning into your 2023 tasks as you set a base framework around your mission and goals.
It’s important to look at all four areas and see where you need to focus the bulk of your time. As digital communicators, we want to do it all — but doing it all versus doing what is going to create real impact are not necessarily one in the same. What do you absolutely need to achieve in the next three months? What can be deprioritized in order to cut down on distractions?
Inspire audiences to take action
Content and outreach strategy are entwined: How are you proactively reaching out to your target audiences to get them to take action in this last (and busiest!) engagement quarter?
Across email, web and social, always be looking at your analytics to see where you’ve had the most success and prioritize those areas first.
Content goals for mission-driven organizations often include:
- Conversions: A particular goal around new subscribers, new attendees to an annual event, etc.
- Content partnerships: Building collaboration with external groups and partners to get your content out on mediums you don’t own.
- Engagement: Targets around people liking, sharing, and referencing your content.
Once you’ve pulled your main goals back up, look at the data to see where you are so far for the year. You can’t reach your goals if you aren’t taking an honest look at your data. See what’s working, and outline where you need to focus your time. Do this as a team; you will be far more creative and effective when it comes to implementing your approach.
In general, quality always wins over quantity, so if you have things that are working well, building on them is going to be more effective. This may include adding examples to case studies, or delving deeper into a particular angle of a blog post. It could also be focusing on your social media output around very particular channels (versus all of them), and on certain topics.
Start to plan (ahead!) for next year
We can’t make time slow down, but we can be helpful to our future selves.
Get a solid plan—or at a minimum, an outline—together now, not just for the end of year but for January actions too. Having the building blocks in your mind and documented will go a long way. If you’re able to do this this fall, you can toast yourself when Q1 2024 rolls around!