What Is the Biggest Year-End Fundraising Mistake a Nonprofit Can Make?
NonProfit PRO asked two of its board members for their best advice on year-end giving. Here's how to avoid the biggest year-end fundraising mistakes from Paul D'Alessandro, founder of D'Alessandro Inc., and Tammy Zonker, founder of Fundraising Transformed.
"As we know, year-end giving is essential for many nonprofits. General gift donors, for instance, may feel generous during the holiday season and contribute to end-of-year appeals. However, a significant error that many fundraisers make is not planning for major donor gifts during the previous year for the current year-end season. Many major gift donors do complicated tax planning, and they prepare their charitable contributions for the next year during the final quarter of the previous year. Therefore, fundraisers should ensure that major donors include them in year-end holiday campaigns by speaking to them about it at least one year ahead of time."
"My heart goes out to fundraising professionals, especially during the era of COVID-19 and the emerging delta variant. Our work has expanded exponentially. For example, we’re not just planning one fundraising event. We’re planning one fundraising event with three scenarios: virtual, in-person and hybrid. ... I want to acknowledge that this expanded work leaves even less time to think strategically and plan thoughtfully. Creating a wider margin for error, oversights and mistakes.
"One of the biggest year-end fundraising mistakes I see is when organizations take a one-size-fits-all approach to their year-end campaigns — neglecting to segment their donors [and] not aligning appeal messaging and ask strings with past giving behaviors.
"By leveraging the priceless information in your donor database, with today’s capabilities for variable print customization, you can design an appeal that feels like it was personally written to each and every donor. It’s been a long year, and I know you’re tired. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. That extra 10% of effort could be a game-changer for your year-end campaign."
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the July/August 2021 print edition of NonProfit PRO as “Member Spotlight.” Click here to subscribe.
Paul D’Alessandro, J.D., CFRE, is a vice president at Innovest Portfolio Solutions. He is also the founder of High Impact Nonprofit Advisors (HNA), and D’Alessandro Inc. (DAI), which is a fundraising and strategic management consulting company. With more than 30 years of experience in the philanthropic sector, he’s the author of “The Future of Fundraising: How Philanthropy’s Future is Here with Donors Dictating the Terms.”
He has worked with hundreds of nonprofits to raise more than $1 billion dollars for his clients in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, as a nonprofit and business expert — who is also a practicing attorney — Paul has worked with high-level global philanthropists, vetting and negotiating their strategic gifts to charitable causes. Paul understands that today’s environment requires innovation and fresh thinking, which is why he launched HNA to train and coach leaders who want to make a difference in the world.
Tammy Zonker has been recognized as one of America's Top 20 Fundraising Experts. She’s an inspiring international speaker on the topic of transformational philanthropy and an AFP Certified Master Trainer. Over the past 20 years, she has trained, coached and led nonprofit teams to raise more than a $500 million including a single gift of $27.1M. Tammy moved to Detroit in 2008 determined to successfully raise money in the most challenging economy in the U.S., and has turned those experiences into strategies, tools and processes for skyrocketing fundraising results in any economy. When not speaking at conferences or fundraising, she's training her online membership community of Fundraising Transformers, or leading fundraising masterclasses, training intensives, and private workshops and retreats.