Running Into the New Year — How to Win With Year-End Fundraising
In these columns I address real-life obstacles and challenges that nonprofits face in creating sustainable funding to deliver their missions and achieve their goals. Readers write via email to receive a quick consultation and perhaps have their particular problem addressed in a future article.
The development director of a regional animal shelter contacted me with the query, "How do I make the most of year-end giving?" By "most," he meant he wanted to not only make his "totals," but to strengthen his base as much as possible for the coming year. He spoke of "running into the new year" rather than simply letting it overtake him. Smart guy.
He understood whereas bringing in cash gifts for the bottom line at year-end is certainly a key goal, he also wanted to position the shelter to build upon that success. He wants to grow his fundraising program to even higher levels of giving in the coming year.
My response to this energetic development director was to remind him the last three months of the calendar are, indeed, the most productive for the entire year. By productive, I mean the most cash received. Some organizations' cash receipts for the last quarter are as much as 60 percent of their year's total.
Principle 7 of The Eight Principles is "Renew & Refresh." Whereas both renewing donors and acquiring new ones are critical activities, maximizing cash received will require him to focus on renewing and upgrading existing donors. Acquiring new donors, if done correctly, takes time and is expensive — not an activity that will add much (if anything) to the immediate bottom line. Leave acquisition efforts for spring or perhaps early fall.
I advised him to identify those donors to the shelter who are already giving at a minimum of $1,000 level and those whom he feels could give at that level by their histories.