Are You Ready to Panic Yet?
Change is happening all around us. I just watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral and the procession — impressive.
Change is inevitable, but nobody likes it — me included.
What doesn’t change is that every year around this time, fundraisers are starting to get overwhelmed. Some are even starting to panic.
Why? Because the holiday giving season is almost here. And every year, the giving months seem to creep up on us sooner than the year before.
I get it. There’s so much to worry about. There’s so much coming at fundraisers like you. The demands seem to increase each year. First, it was just direct mail and phone. Then canvassing. Then emails. Now it’s texting and social media. It’s stewardship. It’s cultivation. It’s retention.
And paper prices continue to go up. And envelopes have long lead times. And Giving Tuesday and other giving days are just around the corner. And marketing communications people are still not communicating with fundraisers. And for those organizations with fiscal years that end Sept. 30, budgets and year-end actuals are due. And annual reports and meetings have to be organized. And year-end events. And more.
The list of to-dos seems endless.
Do you know what I do when I’m overwhelmed? I start organizing. I slow down and take a few hours to organize my papers, my desk, my to-do lists. I go through my stack of direct mail samples and scan in some mailings that have been sitting on my chair waiting to be viewed.
I read some of the research I saved to my desktop. I catch up on some of the webinars I signed up for but didn’t have the time to attend. I often sign up so that I can watch later or at least review the slides.
So today, I’d like to first tell you: Do not panic. Your donors will want to help. I can guarantee you that. How much you’ll find out soon enough, but you certainly will never go wrong by trying!
We live in changing times. There are disasters happening almost every day. But the reality is that we must go on because your mission must go on. Your donors depend on you, your mission depends on you.
The board may be asking you, “What can we expect for year-end during this recession?” Your boss may be asking you to pull up some research.
You can share this with them: Blackbaud institute’s recent “Philanthropy Through Recession” report.
I wanted to highlight its top seven. Much of this you probably already have in place. Much of this applies to year end, but not all. Just make sure you have it on your to-do list for fiscal year 2023.
So rather than panicking, can you do just one more thing?
If you’re a planner and you’re ready with your Giving Tuesday campaign, can you do just one more thing and start planning your year-end email series.
If you’re done with that, can you add a sustainer campaign for JanuaryFebruary?
If you’re looking at your donor lists in preparation of your holiday campaign, can you ask your board to make some thank-you calls to your major donors?
If you don’t have a welcome email series in place yet, can you take a little bit to get that going? That will help you in the long run.
Here is the short list from the study.
- Embrace digital transformation.
- Find and target major donors.
- Focus on donor retention.
- Invest in a sustained giving program. (January is a great time to start!)
- Add to your donor pool.
- Harness the power of peer-to-peer fundraising.
- Diversify your revenue mix.
Take just one of these steps today or tomorrow. Add just one more thing. It will lead you to more success and more funds raised. Good luck, I’m here to tell you that you can do it! And if it requires you to take a few hours to get organized, that’s one thing, too!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.