In the past few weeks I’ve received several letters from nonprofits asking me to donate. One letter asked for a gift because it was the end of their fiscal year. It even said so on the letter. Perhaps this technique motivates some donors to give but I believe, and donor research confirms, donors give, give again and give more based on what’s important to them, not to help the organization meet the budget.
A second request was a one-page, front-side only letter that included a request to give, giving levels that correspond with the number of people who can be served, wording to recognize people who give, instructions on ways to give, a QR code to scan and donate online, and the names of board members.
Although a bit overcrowded, this is all good information but it’s missing a few key ingredients. The letter does not include a photo of people who will benefit from my gift, a story that demonstrates the impact of the program, or a testimonial from someone about why they believe in and support the program. Any of these additions would have made the request more compelling and possibly persuaded more donors to give.
Even though it’s July, now is the best time to plan a year-end giving campaign. 30% of all annual giving occurs in December so it’s worth the effort to have a good plan in place. This should include identifying the theme of the campaign and making sure you’ve reported to donors how their last gift made a difference before asking again.
Seek out a story that demonstrates the impact of the mission and how people change lives when they give. Identify the best person to tell this story such as a volunteer leader or grateful recipient rather than a staff member.
Make a thoughtful decision to participate, or not, in Giving Tuesday which is Dec. 3, 2019. If you are participating, now is the time to seek out one or more donors to match gifts made online on this special giving day which has proven to be a very successful strategy to maximize this online event.
Partner with communications staff to plan a social media campaign that supports Giving Tuesday and overall year-end giving campaign. (For those on the fence, Kelly asked me to write a column on the pros and cons of Giving Tuesday so look for that in a future column.)
Now is also a good time to talk with Board members who may be willing to issue special giving challenges, make a new or additional gift, and agree to sign letters of request and thank you letters to people they know. The fall is a busy time so it’s better to everyone on board in advance and adopt an all-hands-on-deck approach to maximize fundraising results.
If you don’t have a written plan and want to see better fundraising results in 2020, here’s a list of items to include: (1) solicitation strategies such as events, direct mail, and one-on-one asks that include dollar goals, previous year’s net results, timeline, and who [staff, board or committee] to lead the effort; (2) efforts to establish or grow a monthly giving program which makes giving easy and builds over time; (3) donor retention strategies such as a lapsed donor campaign, phone calls to donors who give routinely or stopped giving, or donor surveys to ask people why they give or stopped giving; (4) strategies to ask loyal donors, past and present board members, and long-term volunteers to consider including a gift to your nonprofit in their will or estate plan; and (5) stewardship activities to let donors know in specific ways how their gift makes a difference.
This might include coffee with the CEO, small group gatherings with key donors and board leaders, a gratitude report that describe how gifts in 2019 were used to change lives, a thank-a-thon for members, individuals or corporate donors, hand written notes or calls to current, recent, and loyal donors.
For more help, here’s a great article by fundraising consultant and author Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, about what to include in the fund development planning process: https://bit.ly/2SrutYD. Members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals can access free fundraising plan templates at www.afpglobal.org.
This can be overwhelming. I get it. That’s why it’s a team effort. If every strategy in the fundraising plan is assigned to one full or part-time fundraising staff member, I predict the plan will fail. Successful fundraising requires active involvement from board members who are the ideal ambassador to invite people to be part of the organization’s vision and goals.
Current donors are will most likely never give more unless they understand your long-term goals, know the people responsible for spending their gifts, and are confident you know them by name. This means meeting with them more than once, learning about them and why they give, and treating them like a friend you would welcome in your home.
Before the summer is over, enjoy some time away with family and friends. Then come back ready to hit the ground running to ensure your fundraising program exceeds goal. You can do it!
Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting and Kelly Otte, ED of PACE Center for Girls, co-produce the column and love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.