Tis the season: Year-End Planning Ensures Success
Wow! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is this week, and that we’re 6 days out from #GivingTuesday? Everyone seems to be asking, “Where did the year go?” I hope everyone has their year-end planning underway.
For many nonprofits, the final quarter of the year—especially November and December—will determine their fundraising success.
With the demands of year-end giving and a plethora of events and activities around the holidays, the final weeks of the year will be a blur. But it is time to close your door and do a quick check on these important points to ensure that:
- You have a plan for donor retention. Focus on lapsed donors who have made the greatest gifts and be sure that you have a personal plan to reach out to them. It also is not too late to implement a year-end appeal through direct mail or email, supported by social media—but the clock is ticking!
- There will be a wave of gratitude over the next few weeks—thanking your donors and other key constituents on whom your organization relies. A Thanksgiving message could follow the week of Thanksgiving, so it is not too late for mass messaging. But most importantly, who are you and your team calling, making video calls with and/or sending brief thank-you videos to? And there is still magic in that old-fashioned, handwritten note.
- Your office will be staffed, or you have back-up plans for the last week of the year. Many of us, especially those in academic organizations, enjoy taking time off this time of year. However, don’t leave your donor and prospective donors hanging when they have a last-week—or even last-minute—call. While we fully don’t know the impact of the increased standard deduction, many donors will still find tax benefits from their gifts and most still think of their own personal budgets being on a calendar year.
- Get away to plan. Yes, I said get away. Yes, this is a busy time. But that week between Christmas and New Year’s Day can typically be one of the slowest of the year in terms of interactions and office business. You may have vacation plans. However, this is an ideal time to get away, take a breather, review your goals and results, and do some planning and thinking around 2019.
We’ve all heard the adage: failing to plan is planning to fail. With the proper planning over the next few weeks, you can ensure a healthy year-end outcome for your fundraising, as well as a robust start to a whole new year of helping to create the change that you and your organization want to see in the world. Happy Planning… and Happy Thanksgiving!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.