The problem with end of year fundraising is that it happens at the end of the year. Smack dab in the middle of a disharmonic convergence of deadlines and time off requests. If you are running a small organization with just one or even no dedicated development staff, your final quarter may be a blur of grant reports, annual contract renewals and open enrollment. If the end of the calendar year is also the end of your fiscal year, may the gods help you. All this at a time when half of your staff is out and those that are in the office are likely spending more time working on holiday plans than actually working.
For most nonprofits, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is when most individual giving happens. It is make or break time for annual campaigns. So, how do you get an end of year appeal out in addition to everything else you have to get done at the end of the year? You don’t. You get it out before the madness hits. You sit down during the summer to strategize and develop a work back schedule.
Start by looking at last year’s appeal. What worked and what didn’t? What would you like to do differently this year? Make sure your nonprofit postage permit is paid up. Start gathering anecdotes and success stories to use in your appeal materials. Check in with your mailing house about pricing and timing, or schedule an in-house mailing party with volunteers and clients. After the letters go out, will you be following up with an e-blast? How about a social media component? Start generating that content now.
Create a plan with realistic deliverables scheduled for each week. Of course, once you have a schedule in place, you have to stick to it. If the day you planned to shop around for a new mailing house turns out to be the day one of the toilets in your preschool explodes and you have to track down a Board member for a second signature for the check to the plumber, by all means deal with the toilet first. Just make sure you block out the time later in the week to research mailing houses and gather quotes.
End of year appeals don’t have to be overwhelming if you invest the time up front to plan. Now is the time to start. Still need help? Contact me.
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