If you are a development professional though, the last week of the year is a crazy busy time, and it is all about gifts–hopefully in the form of donations to your organization. (FYI: 12 percent of giving happens in the last three days of the year.)
Most year-end fundraising campaigns begin well before Dec. 31–at least a couple of months out. But planning a year-end fundraising push should start even earlier. Mid-year is a great time to have a huddle, a retreat, even a jelly doughnut-fueled staff meeting to think about how you will approach this year’s drive.
Here are things you should discuss over doughnuts:
Look at your timeline from past years. Did it work? Did you need more time to accomplish some tasks? Did you factor in enough time for staff approvals? Are there holidays that slow your print job or your mail delivery? All of these factors could affect your next year-end fundraising effort.
How long has it been since a professional mailing service cleaned up your mailing list? Have you added the new donors you attracted during your last campaign? How about your website? Does the online giving mechanism work well or are there persistent problems? Is it easy to use? Is it secure? Fix these problems now; if you don’t, your year-end giving potential could be seriously diminished. This fundraising fact illustrates the power of online giving: Churches that have online tithing as an option see donations go up 32 percent.
Are your fundraising efforts limited to a fundraising letter or two? If so, you should add different types of appeals for different types of donors.
For example, you could:
Few nonprofits, especially small ones, can cover all the bases, but each year try at least one new way to reach out to your donors, and invest time and effort in those that are most effective. And don’t discount the power of repetition. One study I read said that simply sending a follow-up letter after your first solicitation could increase gifts as much as 14 percent.
If you plan to make some changes–like making your website mobile friendly because you realize that more of your donors are using their phones to make donations–mid-summer is a good time to call in the website gurus. Or, if it would be valuable to seek the advice of an outside nonprofit expert to hone your overall fundraising plan, do it now. Their schedules, like yours, will only get busier as the end of the year draws near.
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