A Quick End-of-Year-Fundraising Plan

You don’t want to let the end-of-year giving season pass you by.

Several of the vendors who process online donations for nonprofits (e.g. Blackbaud, Convio, Network for Good) report that 45% – 50% of the online donations they process by total dollar amount take place between October and December. Network for Good says that a third of the total dollar value and a quarter of the total number of donations occur in December alone.

If you don’t have an end-of-year fundraising plan, here’s a quick one you can use.

Right Now: Pick a specific project or category of projects that you will build your end-of-year appeal around. Donors like to know where their money is going. Even if you don’t feel comfortable picking one specific project for this appeal, see if you can group a few projects in a way that lets the donor understand where the money will go, while still giving you some flexibility for how it is spent.

Next Week (before Thanksgiving): Send¬†an email to your list, telling them a story about one person whose experience is related to the project you’ve selected. The purpose of this email is to introduce the project to your supporters in a personal way — through the eyes of someone in your story. Make sure there is an element of gratitude in the story (that’s your Thanksgiving tie-in). Maybe the person in your story is grateful for the support of your donors, who helped the person make a big change in their lives. Or maybe your executive director is grateful for the donors who made the program possible.

The point of this email is to set the stage for your appeal by connecting your supporters emotionally to the project, by showing them that progress can be made, and by thanking them for helping you make that progress.

Early December: Send your direct mail appeal letter. Don’t repeat yourself word for word, but use the same basic program descriptions and a similar story in this letter that you used in the email. But this time, ask for a donation. Make your ask very clear. ¬†Please give {insert ask} so that {result that gift will produce}.

Mid-December: Send an email that refers to the direct mail letter, and reminds your supporters where the money will go and that they can give online if they’d like.

Send direct mail thank you letters to everyone who gives no later than a week after the gift is received. Online givers should get an immediate, automated thank you note/receipt as well as a more heartfelt thank you that doesn’t look or sound like a receipt within a week.

December 30 or 31: Send an email that reminds supporters that it’s their last chance to get a tax deduction and that reinforces the messaging from earlier about how the money will be spent.

January: Share your thanks and start reporting back on what you are doing with the donations.

Have a better plan? Share it in the comments!

Author: Kivi Leroux Miller

Categories: Fundraising