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End of Year Fundraising…is it Time to Panic Yet?

Every year around this time, I usually hop on the phone to call clients, colleagues, and nonprofit leaders to give them horrible news: There’s only 5 months left in the fundraising year.

And each year, there are typically one of two responses:

“Where did the time go? Oh crap! Time to panic!” or “AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH What do we need to doooooo?”

Never fear, Do Good Better is here!

Whether you are a start up organization or a bigger organization that is pulled in a thousand different directions, getting realigned as you race to the end of the calendar year is critical to feel a little less stressed and anxiety ridden on the 10,000 things you have to get done in an increasingly short time period.

The news from the philanthropy world doesn’t look great. Giving is down across the board. And there’s not a lot of optimism in the nonprofit realm on it getting better any time soon.

So it’s REALLY important to get a plan together to activate those who love you the most. And do it quickly.

Sure I could write a freaking novel about what you COULD do, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s break it down into two categories and items you SHOULD be paying attention to.

1. Budget & Events Checkup

The first question your board probably asks you at any given meeting, is the question you should begin with:

How’s the money situation?

That seems like a trick question. But in reality, looking at projections for donations you’ve asked for already, or committed gifts will give you a good idea of how much work you have ahead of you.

What? You haven’t solicited any gifts or have any commitments for donations yet?

That’s ok. We’ve got you.

For those who haven’t started making end of year asks – consider this a good date to begin. You don’t need a fancy plan, just a list of donors who traditionally give to you near the end of the year, and start calling, meeting and talking about the accomplishments of your organization, thanking them for their previous gifts, and walk through some of the challenges coming up in the new year.

That will, more than likely, elicit a response of “How can I help?” To which, you’re gonna need to have an answer ( or list of options ) at the ready.

Take some time to map out a list of ways your supporters can help fund programs and services to make that answer as quick and easy as possible!

Yes, you also need to think about your upcoming events and how the beginning of the school year or sports will affect attendance, donations and enthusiasm. I know we seem to be harping on this issue, but being proactive rather than reactive will help you organization lessen the general anxiety of end-of-year planning.

2. Communication & Solicitation Tasks/To Dos

The second item to pay attention to, is what your communication and solicitation plan is.

One of the first conversations we have with new clients is when the last time they reached out to donors who gave earlier in the year.

If the answer is “…um…we haven’t” then the priority becomes connecting with each supporter who generously gave and talk about what impact their gifts made in the community or how it helped grow programs and services.

Oh, and we lead off each conversation by showing an absurd amount of gratitude.

Not thanking donors, or at least communicating with them in between gift solicitation is a major no-no. And thought we don’t want to annoy them with a constant barrage of sucking-up, we DO want to ensure they know how much their gifts mean to the mission of our organization.

Once your donor base has been properly thanked, THEN it’s time to map out your end of year appeal timing, and just as important – what you’ll be asking to fund from your donors.

Set a goal, reach out to businesses who would potentially commit to a matching gift, and make sure your carve out time to call and follow up with those who you mail physical letters and envelopes to.

Slow Down to Speed Up

It’s ok to have that “are we doing enough right now” feeling in the pit of your stomach – if you have a plan to get out of that rut.

In fact, taking time towards the end of the summer to recalibrate and come out of the gates rocking for the fall will have you more focused, more motivated, and more rested spending resources on all the things you SHOULD be doing, rather than moving in 500 different directions.

Take some time before the school year starts to really design a playbook that works for your nonprofit – from in the field activities, like meetings & presentations to asks that have purpose and are achievable for a less stressed ramp up to the end of the year.

Of course, doing it alone and without a bit of assistance is silly.

Especially if you have access to someone who has nearly 2 decades of fundraising experience at the ready to help.

Good news – I can help navigate what you need to get done, save you time and energy, and pump up your board to help open doors to raise you more money at the end of the year.

How, you ask?

Simple. Let’s plan a board training. Let’s get you end-of-year fundraising ready.

We can help – its kinda what we do best.



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