Wisdom Wednesdays: Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31, Part One

by Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE

It’s mid-October … that can mean only one thing in the fund development world: fundraisers are in the midst of their year-end giving initiatives!

At least fundraisers should be — and here’s why …

Many development offices receive 30-50 percent of their annual donations in the last three months of the year.  In fact, it is not unusual for a nonprofit organization with a July through June fiscal year to achieve 75 percent or more of its annual goal by December 31.

Miller-Dawn-webSo why do donors give so heavily around the end of the year? A few thoughts:

  • Donors are “trained” to give around the holidays (think about your own personal giving cycle and the gifts you give at year-end)
  • Donors are bombarded with messages of giving, hope and thoughtfulness (via mainstream media) and they are hoping to do the most good in their community
  • Some donors are looking for tax deductions before December 31
  • Donors may have year-end bonuses or unexpected funds to contribute
  • Many people are in the “mood” to share with others — resources, money, friendship, etc.
  • If fundraisers have done a good job of sharing their organization’s story throughout the year, then donors are often waiting to be asked before the end of the year

If you haven’t already begun your year-end solicitations, start today! Begin by assessing where you currently are relative to your yearly goals, analyzing trends within your donor base and assessing the strengths of the organization. Some tips:

  • Create a baseline of where the development efforts currently stand by running database reports by segment:

– Current Donors (0-12 months)
– Lapsed Donors (13 months and beyond)
– Prospects/Non-Donors
– Planned Giving Donors
– Corporations
– Foundations
– Board and Committee Members

  • Run reports that compare and contrast the past three to five years of giving (FY trend line as well as the CY trend line):

– Examine October 1-December 31 trend lines: Look for any anomalies or outliers, i.e., one-time gifts, bequests, memorial gifts, etc.
– Chart the trends for a visual benchmark that is easy to understand

  • Make a list of the unique aspects of your organization that may provide opportunities for year-end donations:

– Unique segments: alumni, grandparents, ad hoc groups, etc.
– Unique activities: events, special campaigns, etc.

Now that you understand where you are compared to your goal and how much you need to raise between now and December 31, what are your next steps?

Stay tuned next week for Part Two of “Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31,” where I’ll share specific year-end strategies.  Enjoy the rest of your week!

Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, is Director of Consulting for Fund Development Services at Zielinski Companies in St. Louis, Missouri.  She can be reached at dmiller@zielinskico.com (800) 489-2150Zielinski Companies is an ALDE Resource Partner.

Founded in 1957, Zielinski Companies helps nonprofit and religious organizations address their financial, management and planning needs.  The firm has a broad range of consulting service areas, including: Fund Development and Mission Advancement Consulting; Audit, Accounting and Tax Services; Property and Facility Planning; Organizational Management and Planning; Long-term Care, Facility and Staffing Consulting and Cash Management and Credit Card Services.  For more information, please visit www.zielinskico.com.

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One thought on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31, Part One

  1. Pingback: Wisdom Wednesdays: Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31, Part Two | ALDE

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