Over the next few weeks, we are going to focus all of our efforts on end of year fundraising. For many nonprofits and ministries, the months between October and December are crucial to their financial health. For some organizations as much as 50% of their annual revenue may come in during these months. As a side note, you may need to help board members understand this phenomena as they look at cash flow statements.
Let’s start this week with a checklist of tasks associated with your end of year fundraising. Now is the time to get to work to ensure maximum success and to generate the most dollars for the mission of the organization.
- Determine now if you will be using an online appeal, a direct mail appeal or a combination of both. Obviously, you will need to look at your database (even if it is a spreadsheet) to see if you have email addresses, mailing addresses, or both. Additionally, you will want to understand who is on your mailing list. For instance, if many of your donors are elderly who don’t use email, then you will want to make sure you mail them a letter.
- Determine the focus of your request. The focus of your request is not, “because we need money.” Instead, designate a certain project or service that will be the beneficiary of all funds received through the annual appeal. Then, all of your communications will focus on this effort.
- Clean up your list. Our lists have a tendency to become like our closets. They become a mess until we take the time to clean them up, remove those people who no longer live in the area, or are deceased. You may also want to establish a policy for how long to keep someone on the list if they do not make a contribution to the organization. Your list is not “set it and forget it.”
- Look at your web presence. When people receive your request for funding, they are going to visit your social media pages and your website. Make sure these are up to date. Is the staff and board list current? Does the website reflect current program or service efforts? Are social media pages current, or have you not been active? Now is the time to get active, because out of sight is out of mind.
- Identify volunteers who can help. If you are going to be using direct mail, volunteers can help fold and stuff envelopes, and address them.
- Lay out your timeline. When do you want your donors to receive communications from you? Ideally, your request needs to be in the mail by Thanksgiving. Any later and it will get mixed in with all of the holiday mail. Using your target mailing date, work backward to identify due dates for all of the specific tasks.
If your organization has never done an annual appeal before or if your last one wasn’t so successful, you might be wondering how to make it stronger, what to write, etc. Next week our focus will be on writing the successful annual appeal letter.
Over the next week, begin your planning efforts so next week you will be ready to write.