Labor Day has long signified the end of summer, but more and more it seems to signal the beginning of the holiday season. While I am personally amazed by people who complete their holiday shopping before December, when it comes to fundraising and gifts, I’m a firm believer that early September is an excellent time for fundraisers to update their year-end plans.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on a new survey that indicates two-thirds of donors plan to cut back on their charitable giving in the coming months due to economic uncertainty or personal circumstances. Considering many nonprofits receive 40 percent or more of their total contributed income between October and December, expect to see another challenging year for meeting revenue goals.
Below are some suggestions for bolstering fundraising plans to make the most of the year-end giving season:
- Send an impact letter now. Before asking your donors for gifts during your fall or winter campaigns, send a stewardship letter thanking them for their last gift, and articulate how their gift helped further your mission.
- Set meetings with your top donors. Face-to-face meetings with top supporters are critical for generating major gifts. It is hard to get meetings in November and December, so the time to schedule October meetings is in September (which means now).
- Ramp up your online giving opportunities. The same gloomy survey referenced earlier offers a bright spot: nine out of 10 donors who give online plan to continue to make donations. Donors are much more comfortable making online transactions than they were just a few years back, so make it easy for them! Network for Good has a great Online Fundraisers Checklist, and the Social Media 4 Nonprofits blog is another great place to get tips to integrate and improve your on-line presence.
- Secure a challenge grant to create a sense of urgency and leverage. As many times as this strategy is used, it continues to be effective. Donors love to know their gift is going further, and this goes for the “challengers” as well.
- Thank properly. It goes without saying, but you never know when a donor who gave to your fall appeal will decide to give more before December 31. If your donors have a great experience, you may just end up at the top of their list.
- Follow up requests to those who don’t respond. It’s a busy time of year so a follow-up letter or email with a link to give can be an effective reminder. Don’t convince yourself it will be received as an annoyance.
Are you trying new approaches, or have you found certain strategies particularly effective at year end? Please share!
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About the Author
Natalie Lamberjack CFRE
Natalie dials into the needs of her clients by keeping a calm eye on the big picture view of the nonprofit sector.