Hope Is Not a Strategy:
A Guide to Year-End Fundraising

Terri Rudacille, Senior Consultant

With the fourth quarter less than a couple weeks away, now is the time to finalize your year-end fundraising plan. Many organizations raise upwards of 60 percent of their annual income during the last few months of the year. Here are five ways to get big results.

  1. Make a plan: Assemble your team to discuss…
    • Donor Segmentation: Divide donors by their giving and communication preferences. Consider high-dollar donors, low-dollar donors, lapsed donors, and even prospects. You’ll communicate with all donors, but will put in a little extra time and effort cultivating your top tier.
    • Communication Methods: Which donors respond to direct mail? Who responds online? Who at your organization can set aside time to call your top donors? Create a plan to connect with, thank, and ask over the three-month period using more than one communication channel.
    • Who does what and when? Involve your entire staff, board, and your volunteers in the effort. Board members can call or visit significant donors, volunteers can hand-address envelopes or write thank you notes. Place all action items on a calendar and track your progress.
  1. Refine your message: Carefully craft your message so it speaks to each donor’s interest and motivation for giving. Why is it an urgent request? (Hint: Think about what is urgent in your mission, not your fundraising budget.) What is the impact of someone’s donation? This might be a good time for a board member or major donor to offer a matching gift or challenge grant. Donors want to be part of big plans and big visions! The more specific you can be with your asks, the better your results will be.
  1. Make it easy to give: Donors are less likely to give a gift if they get frustrated or distracted while considering your request. Increase the likelihood and size of each gift:
    • In 2018, more than 1/3 of all online donations were made on handheld devices. Streamline your donation page and collect only essential information to process the gift.
    • Use preprinted response envelopes with suggested entries so donors just enclose a check and add a stamp.
    • Leverage charitable tax benefits by including information on stock transfers and the IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution option.
  1. Execute and assess: Carefully implement each piece of your plan, and ensure that you have adequate staff and resources to process the last-minute donations arriving between December 26 and January 1.
  1. Express sincere gratitude: Your first and last contact with donors in this end-of-year effort should be marked with gratitude. Sign or write as many notes by hand as your team can handle. Giving is a personal act that deserves a personal response.

If you would like more information about developing effective year-end strategies, please contact us at AC Fitzgerald.

Terri Rudacille serves as Senior Consultant at AC Fitzgerald. A veteran of the U.S. Army, she uses her 30+ years of experience in nonprofit management and compliance to help her clients envision success, build capacity, and achieve their goals.

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