As we wrap up the dog days of summer, many of us are gearing up for year-end giving. We know that more than 1/3 of all charitable gifts are raised in the last three months of the year. With the right plan in place, the return on efforts can be maximized and giving can be accelerated during this time.
Here are 5 solid tips to help move from summer into the giving season:
1. Create an end of year fundraising activity calendar
For many organizations, an annual fundraising plan guides overall activity - but what about the day-to-day? Due to changes in circumstance, staffing, donors, etc., it’s tough to plan out daily activities a year in advance. Now is the time to focus on specifics that will keep efforts on track as we move toward December 31.
For each individual giving program (annual fund, major, planned, in-kind, etc.), create a schedule of activities/events and communications/public relations. Then assign each to a specific person, be it staff, board or volunteer. It’s critical to ensure each person understands the importance of the effort and is clear about their expected contribution.
Many nonprofits already have a planned gala during this time, have begun to incorporate Giving Tuesday into their efforts, and have an end of the year direct mail appeal. But the approach of year’s end is also the ideal time to get creative in engaging and cultivating donors! Why not consider:
• Tours of buildings or programs
• Opportunities for individuals or families to volunteer over the holidays
• A special holiday gift level for annual or major gift donors
• Board member hosted get-togethers with friends and prospective donors
2. Know where you are so you can know where you’re going
If donor data analytics are not currently used on a regular basis, now may be the time to conduct a semi-annual analysis of donor data. Solid analytics can provide insight into what’s working and what isn’t, what type of giving is trending for an organization, and where there are gaps that can be addressed during the last quarter of the year push – an opportunity for data-driven decision making.
It may be cliché, but, knowing is half the battle. Building a plan with faulty or no data to back up assumptions may still get results, but you’ll have to work twice as hard to get them. Use analytics to inform efforts so areas of strength and opportunity can be targeted.
3. Utilize Giving Tuesday to your advantage
Giving Tuesday is growing as a global fundraising event, turning into an indispensable opportunity to engage current donors and attract new donors. If a nonprofit organization is not already actively participating – it SHOULD be!
4. Institute a recurring gift structure
Establish a recurring gift structure for annual donors. Once in place, the returns on this investment will accrue each year. A recurring gift structure allows donors to “set it and forget it,” making the giving process easy. It helps break down larger gifts into more manageable sizes, and still allows donors to give significantly over the course of a year. Why not provide donors the easy option to continue giving into next year?
5. Share your goals
Sharing goals and a vision for the future should go hand in hand. Organizational and fundraising goals should be simple extensions of an overarching vision. So SHARE! Individual donors will be inspired and moved by the impact their gift can make if they believe in an organization’s ability to do so. Donors are moved by a shared vision for the future.
Ensure Board and staff members are highly proficient in communicating the organization’s case and key messages. Ensure that goals and progress toward meeting those goals are shared at every opportunity – campaign updates, newsletters, direct mail, on your website. And finally, be generous in acknowledging those who have made your vision their vision, have contributed, and are committed to seeing that vision become a reality!
Getting into gear following the lazy days of summer can feel like crunch time, but it doesn’t have to. Start by measuring progress and assessing strengths and opportunities for the remainder of the year. Build and implement a focused plan for this time period, and measure again.
Time to roll out of the hammock.....and get to work!