The Last 8 Weeks: Time to Go for It!

winter-running-go-for-itDonors think in terms of a calendar year. Most have an idea of what they are willing to give during the year and they make sure to get it done in the last two months. This is why so many nonprofits are in a frenzy of appeals, thank you calls, personal visits, proposals, VIP tours, holiday cards, emails, and even donor gifts. It is even worse than the political calls and TV ads in a “swing state”.

Think of yourself in a marathon and you have just 3 miles to go. This is NOT the time to stop for water or ease back just because you are dead tired. All your effort for the first 23 miles will count for nothing unless you exert maximum effort now.

The same is true in fundraising. You have donors who have not yet given this year or have given less than they have in the past. If you don’t get to them with a solicitation before Dec. 31st, that money is gone forever. They may give again in 2017, but you have still lost whatever they might have given in 2016.

Here are a few things you can do in November and December to get all your donors solicited:

  • General Donor Appeals: Send 2-3 more. Have them arrive on 11/25, 12/14, and 12/27. Send to everyone who has made a gift(s) sometime in the last 20 months or has been added to your mailing list as a prospect. Include lapsed donors who have not given in the last 23-48 months in your 11/25 mailing.
  • Emails: Send one ahead of each mailed appeal notifying donors to look for your letter. Email a “last chance” 12/28. Email your thanks for a great year on 12/30.
  • Phone: Around 12/20 have staff, board, and volunteers to call donors who have given $300 or more during the year. Your purpose is to personally thank them for their partnership and wish them “happy holidays”. It’s also okay to leave a thank you message if they fail to answer.
  • Donor Meetings: Try and meet face-to-face to ASK for a gift from every major donor who has not given yet in 2016.Winter running - Young woman running outdoors on a cold winter day If you have time and personnel, consider also again soliciting those that have given less this year than you expected. Having a year-end special need and a corresponding proposal makes such meetings easier and more focused.
  • Other Donor Contact Possibilities:
    • Holiday open house (do it in the first two weeks of December)
    • Send holiday cards thanking donors for their support
    • Special tours (ongoing all year)
    • Gift for top donors (perhaps a book or DVD on something related to your work)

No doubt during your planning someone on your board or part of your staff will comment that donors are way too busy in November/December to make time for meetings and events. Capturing the attention of your donors is certainly more competitive in the last two months. This is due to their own busy lives as well as all the invitations coming from other nonprofits. Even though it is harder to get their attention, you have a great deal to lose if you don’t try.

Numbers vary but the last two months can yield 30-40% of your annual giving. Gather your strength, increase your pace. Don’t look back. Arrive at Dec. 31st knowing you did all that you could for your organization in 2016.

If you have any innovative donor contact and development plans for the holidays we would love to hear from you. They may be shared in a few weeks with our audience.
Michael Friedline
Sparrow Solutions Consultant
NonProfit Advance, President

Stay updated on information that could impact you in your local PMC

Subscribe to the PMC Advisor Newsletter