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

by Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE

Last week in the Part One blog we discussed why donors tend to give at the end of the year, your yearly goals, analyzing trends within your donor base and assessing the strengths of the organization.

Miller-Dawn-webTime is ticking away so let’s move on to creating specific year-end gift strategies.

Every organization will want to consider a variety of year-end fundraising initiatives — in other words, how will your organization reach your donors and raise funds?  Solicitation vehicles may include:

  • Pre-solicitation postcards
  • General direct mail appeals
  • Special direct mail appeals with handwritten notes from key organization individuals
  • Phone calls
  • Online giving and website
  • Special events
  • Face-to-face interaction

A great place to begin is by drafting a timetable/calendar of activities:

  • First, write down your timetable/calendar!  This may seem like a common sense step, but I can’t tell you how many folks have “it all in their head” (i.e., an unwritten plan).  Involve the appropriate staff, board members, etc. in the planning to encourage buy-in into the process, goals and outcomes
  • Post the timetable/calendar in a place you, your staff and your leadership can regularly review the information, responsibilities and deadlines.  This helps to hold everyone accountable and keeps the solicitations moving forward
  • Have weekly staff and leadership meetings to stay on task
  • Make it a friendly competition — challenge each other to reach a specific weekly or monthly goal.  Consider a small prize as an added bonus — maybe a small denomination gift card to the local lunch diner or the staff member receives an afternoon off
  • Don’t forget to include stewardship in your planning

– Phone calls — not just from staff members, but from leadership (President, CEO, Board Members, etc.)
– Acknowledgment letters with handwritten notes within 24-48 hours
– White papers and briefing letters (no solicitation, only information and updates)
– Thanksgiving and Christmas cards/e-cards are great!

  • Always have a Plan B and be flexible if the gifts are not coming in as you predicted.  Consider the following:

– An e-appeal at the end of December to drive web traffic and online donations
– Small donor segments for follow-up, and highly personalized, direct mail appeals
– Christmas/Advent announcements
– Use social media to help bolster response — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

Always make donating easy and an enjoyable experience for your donors:

  • Is it stress-free to donate through your website?  Test the number of clicks it takes to make a gift.  Are you losing donors along the way?
  • Can the donor contact a specific person to make a gift over the phone?
  • Do you offer EFTs?  Credit card options?

In January 2014, send a 2013 calendar year tax letter:

  • This provides more face time with your donors
  • A tax letter is an opportunity to share an update on how a donor’s gifts were used/will be used
  • Donors will remember your organization once again and tax letters can help set up future giving
  • It’s the nice thing to do for your donors!

A quick peek at the calendar shows that there are 63 days left until December 31.  So, are you focused on your organization’s year-end giving?

Look for Part Three of “Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31” next week for more tips and strategies.

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.


2 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31, Part Two

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

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

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