I love the holiday season. I mean besides the stress over a rapidly impeding end of year, finances going off the rail, and an endless threat of school being canceled or delayed by weather and the look of utter disappointment my children give me for not immediately picking up how to help with their new math homework, it’s the most wonderful time on the calendar.
Now, if you’re a nonprofit leader, and you get the joy of having conversations with donors, you get an extra special bonus…trying to figure out what to ask them for as they plan their end-of-year giving.
We talk endlessly about gratitude, and story telling, and relationship building, but just like waiting in line to sit on that creepy mall Santa’s lap, you better have a list ready when you get asked the question, “what do YOU want for Christmas!?”
Donors and supporters don’t want to guess at what you and your organization need. They want to help, but they don’t want to go back to college, earn a degree in investigative journalism and spend months trying to sleuth their way into the back of your brain where you store your list of needs but won’t come right out and say them.
Well, in case you’re too embarrassed to say what you need out loud, or you don’t really know WHAT to ask for, I decided to give you a gift! A list of things to ask donors for!
A simple checklist…done, in the timeless classic song you’ll hear way too many times on the soft rock station that became the OFFICIAL holiday station of your local town this year: The 12 Days of Christmas.
To all my Jewish friends? Feel free to pick your favorite 8.
But, to make these reads and checklists a little shorter (and in no way to simply extend a piece of content that could be one week into two weeks leading up to a few days off!) here is PART 1 of our Things to Ask Your Donors for Your End of Year Giving Campaign!
1. On the First Day of Christmas, My Donors Gave to Me…An Unrestricted gift to use for anything
The importance of communicating with donors that your greatest need is gifts with no strings. Paper bags might be great with them, but certainly not gifts!!
Listen, you need funds that provide flexibility in the way that will most benefit your mission. That includes supporting programs, new initiatives that come up as opportunities, or, yes, covering operating expenses. An unrestricted gift allows you to respond to any changing need or priority within the organization…and as we’ve seen over the last few years, if a crisis happens, and you’re sitting on money that can’t be used to help solve a problem? What the hell is the use of a gift that stares at you from the other side of a bank account doing nothing but earning 0.0017% interest?
These gifts help stabilize organizations in a way that no other gift can. So ask for it!
2. On the Second Day of Christmas, My Donors Gave to Me…Two Sponsorships!
The end of year is a GREAT time to secure gifts for the 2023 event season! Heck, you’ll find them in a much more giving mood, and you can knock out your “to-do’s” for golf tourneys, galas and more!
January usually brings about a reset of marketing dollars and mindsets at businesses across your region, and though they have probably committed to certain organizations or things they like to do every year already, you have a much better chance of securing an underwriting opportunity earlier than later.
How many times have you asked a company to give and they immediately say “we’ve already exceeded our donation amount for the year”? Well, now is a GREAT time to get them to commit early, get them a donation form and POOF – you’re already ahead of the game and there’s still snow on the ground!
3. On the Third Day of Christmas, My Donors Gave to Me…Three Facebook Shares
Ok. We get it. Facebook isn’t cool anymore and all the awesome kids are on some other channel that changes minute to minute…but those cool kids don’t have any money. Their grandparents do.
And those grandparents? Still on Facebook.
Listen, you can let these generational gaps get to you or embrace that a significant group of folks who have a significant amount of dollars to spend are all sitting there waiting for something fantastic to share with their friends. For God’s sake, they all share that random inspirational quote with a sunset on it and then Betty chimes in that she likes that quote and then the person who posted it says she appreciates Better for liking and commenting on the thing they she liked in the first place already. So give them something REALLY inspirational to post…like a link to a donation page and how much they support!
Let your closest allies help share the great works you are doing!
4. On the Fourth Day of Christmas, My Donors Gave to Me…Four Calls to Friends
We talk endlessly about how you should probably Pick Up the Damn Phone and call donors, but our favorite thing? When other super fans of your organization do it for you!
A great ask of your donors would be if they could help call their close friends to talk about opportunities to give or support the organization they support! Remember, third party endorsement is exponentially more important than first party solicitation…so unleash the enthusiasm of your donors…so spread enthusiasm…on the phone!
They probably want to catch up on gossip anyway. So this gives them a great excuse to connect, and while they are talking about Lord knows what – they can slip in how the love what you do, what your impact is…and any other nugget of great info to pass along to like minded humans!
5. On the Fifth Day of Christmas, My Donors Gave to Me…Five Transferred Stocks
Fun fact, you don’t need to know anything about stocks or transferring stocks or market activity to suggest that your donors have an opportunity to give without having to pay capital gains tax on their investments!
In fact, just by saying, “there’s probably an opportunity to give without cash AND to avoid capital gains tax” that already makes you sound like you know what the hell you’re talking about! It’s an easy way for individuals who may not have cash on hand, but have investments galore to support causes they need.
Their investment person will handle all the details. You just need to ask what they need for documentation, and a nonprofit tax ID and you’re good to go!
6. On the Sixth Day of Christmas, My Donors Gave to Me…Six Leads for Meetings
A gift that requires no money at all, is a quick introduction to a person that might find the alignment of your mission and their heart to be picture perfect.
That sounds mighty corny, but during this time of year, folks like that kind of stuff. Individuals who are blessed with time or treasure are looking to give back, and to be connected to a new organization that makes them feel good about giving is a rare opportunity and gift that your supporters could provide!
It doesn’t have to be anything other than a quick email, call or text message to introduce you, and after that? It’s up to you!
However, folks are more likely to say “yes” to a warm introduction than to a flat out cold call, and that could definitely lead to a hot donation.
Stay tuned for six more ways your donors can support your organization next week! And make sure to follow us on all our super cool social channels…if you want to seem me legit sing all these for you too!
It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
You got this!