It Is Not Too Late to Develop Your Year-End Fundraising Plan
It happens every year. The summer comes to an abrupt end, and the calendar year-end stopwatch begins. A recent study revealed that 50.5% of organizations report charitable giving occurs between the months of October and December.* With 2016 fundraising goals in mind, now is the time to plan how to maximize your efforts during the season of giving.
Below are tips on how to ensure you are tapping into your donors during these weeks leading into the new year.
Create a table of gifts: Determine what gifts, and how many at each level, are still needed from your donors to reach your year-end goals. Once you’ve mapped out your needs, begin to populate each level with prospective donors at each level. For a $1,000,000 annual campaign, it is not unusual to raise 90% of the goal from gifts of $5,000 or more. Develop a strategy for engaging and soliciting prospects at each level.
Plan your fall and winter direct mail solicitation schedule: Sending an initial letter in September or October followed by a letter in late November or early December to those who have not yet given will keep your organization front and center on donors’ minds. Most importantly, do not forget to insert an ask into your solicitation letters!
Develop a fall and winter marketing plan: If you have not done this already, determine how your organization is going to get the word out about fundraising needs, your programs, and the impact of your mission. Videos, infographics and photos are excellent vehicles through which to share your story. Be creative. Stand out. Coordinate with your direct mail appeal. The competition during this season is fierce.
Get on the phone: Call your donors! We’ve become far too dependent on text messages, or passive “likes” on social media as a means of connecting with donors. Instead, show a donor that you care and value him or her. Provide an update on the latest program accomplishment or fundraising achievement. If they have not yet given to your campaign, ask for the gift either over the phone or schedule an in-person meeting to make the ask.
Gather your volunteers: Cultivate donors and encourage peer-to-peer giving by encouraging volunteer engagement. Do you have a committee structure for annual giving? If so, now should be its busy season. Ask your volunteers to write personal notes, assign solicitation phone calls, host small coffee or cocktail receptions to introduce community members to your mission. Studies show time and time again that peer-to-peer fundraising is the most effective method of securing gifts.
Schedule a telethon: Segment your donor lists by constituency, potential interest, and giving level. Coordinate a telethon with volunteers, and schedule several nights of phone calls to request gifts over the phone. Create a fun environment for your volunteers by having food, drinks and a celebration ritual for when a caller closes a gift. Send a follow up note and business reply envelope to each prospective donor who was reached.
Coordinate an email campaign: Email campaigns should be organized in conjunction with your other annual giving efforts. For example, you might consider sending a follow up email to everyone who was reached during your telethon thanking them for taking the call and encouraging them to make an online gift. Year-end videos and infographics can be mass-marketed on email to encourage year-end online giving as well.
Remember: When it comes to year-end giving, each touch-point matters and must be coordinated. No one piece of your plan should operate on an island. Be strategic, keep the donor at the center, remember to make the ask, and always remember to say thanks!
*Source: Guidestar’s “The Effect of the Economy On the Nonprofit Sector: An October 2012 Survey” http://www.guidestar.org/ViewCmsFile.aspx?ContentID=4781