It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Year-End
Have a deadline
Dec. 31 is a natural deadline for any donor thinking about income tax deductions for 2011. However, since fewer than half of Americans itemize deductions, this might not be an important consideration for the majority of your donors.
Your job is to create a deadline that is believable and that you are willing (and able) to follow through on. For example, "With your support, we will increase the hours of our shelter in 2012, meaning 100 more people each week will receive the help we provide."
Whatever you promise must be feasible, and your organization has to stand behind it. You owe it to your donors to report back to them early in 2012, letting them know if you met this goal with their help and telling them about the expanded program they helped make possible.
Have specific offers
One of the great ideas in nonprofit fundraising has been the year-end donation catalog, if only because it forced organizations to think about their fundraising needs as tangible "products." You might not prepare a catalog (and I'm not suggesting you need to), but especially at year-end, you need to think in terms of tangible offers.
How can you package your great work so it's appealing to your donors? What can you ask for that is specific and easy to visualize?
Donors are busy at the end of the year, shopping, cooking, cleaning, partying and sending greetings. Don't make them work to figure out what you will do with their money and why it would be a good investment.
"Your gift of $100 will help us continue our good work" is nice. "Your gift of $100 will mean we can provide holiday food baskets to seven families right here in our community" is so much better.