How to Prepare for a Summer Fiscal Year-End
The days have been inching toward one of the biggest summer events. Do you know what it is? (Hint: It’s not your summer vacation!)
For many organizations, like yours, a big part of your summer planning is focused on the fiscal year-end. And that means you’re busy trying to secure any final gifts for the fiscal year and plan for the fiscal year ahead.
But before you get too deep into your fiscal year-end preparations, I wanted to share a few reminders and tips to help you keep this time of year strategic and relationship-focused for your donors.
First, it’s important to remember how to approach this time of year:
- Remember your donors do not operate on your fiscal year. Most likely, they operate on a calendar year.
- Know that this is a valuable time to check in with your donors. Share the impact of their support since things aren’t quite as busy or chaotic, like at the end of the calendar year.
- Keep your partnership with the donor as your focus. Sometimes, especially in situations where your organization may be under budget, there can be pressure from leadership to secure as much revenue as possible. This is a transactional mindset that isn’t honoring the donor relationship and will likely have a negative impact on that relationship in future years.
Now that I’ve walked through those reminders, let’s talk through some recommendations to help you keep a strategic focus as you prepare for fiscal year-end.
1. Review Your Caseload
To understand where donors are in their giving, you want to see which donors of yours typically give during this time of year and identify which donors gave more last year than this year or haven’t given at all yet.
If you have a donor who typically gives in the spring or early summer, make sure you have a plan for communicating with them. If not, prioritize creating one so you can properly and meaningfully cultivate, solicit and steward your donor.
Here's what you need to consider:
- Did you report back properly on the donor’s most recent gift? (If not, take care of that immediately.)
- Do you know about the donor’s passions and interests?
- Do you have what you need from your internal team to communicate with the donor and ask them for a gift?
- What steps do you need to take to cultivate the donor toward a gift?
- If any donors have given less or haven't given at all yet, do you know the story behind the change in giving?
For the latter, there may be a clear reason, like a one-time gift the prior year or a change in the donor’s business. If you don’t know, create a plan to start uncovering this information in a genuine and honoring way. It might be that the donor just forgot to make their usual gift, or it could be something else entirely. Either way, make sure your mindset is focused on the long-term partnership with the donor, not the money.
2. Build Your Plan
Now that you know which donors to focus your attention on, make sure you’ve built your plan. Hopefully you already built at least an initial plan so you have a rough idea of where you want to go with the donor. If not, then there’s no time like the present to get started.
The first step is to identify your anchor point, which should be your solicitation. When do you plan to ask the donor for a gift? Clearly note that in your plan in a specific month.
Once you have your ask identified, think through what you need to cultivate the donor leading up to the ask. What inds of questions do you anticipate the donor will have? What kinds of information does the donor prefer? Remember, it’s important to honor the donor’s communication preferences in how you build your plan. Be sure to incorporate that knowledge into the steps you’re taking leading up to the ask and after.
3. Steward Your Donors
Create a plan for engaging, meaningful and relevant stewardship with the donor. Do you know the saying from Maya Angelou about how people won’t remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel? If you ask a donor for a gift and then drop them like a hot potato, they are not going to feel great about their interaction with you and will not be as likely to give again later.
So, make sure you plan for stewardship ahead of time, so you’ve got everything you need to show the donor how they’ve made a difference with their gift. Be sure to connect the gift as directly to the impact as possible. If there’s not a direct connection where you can say something like, “Your $10,000 gift allowed us to purchase this piece of equipment,” then use equivalency language to connect the gift to your mission.
4. Follow Up
Create a follow-up plan. We all know that despite your best planning, you’ll probably still need to follow up with some donors who want to review your ask or who you weren’t able to connect with. Make sure you have steps in your plan and strategies for those donors you just can’t reach. My colleague Kara Ansotegui had a great tip, which is to have a stack of solicitation letters ready to go so you can send them immediately if needed.
Don’t let too much more time pass you by before you create your summer fiscal year-end plan. You won’t regret putting in the time to create a meaningful strategy for your donors.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.