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Monday, October 20, 2014

It pays to plan ahead
10 Tips for Year-End Fundraising
by Robb Hansen

Growth ChartChances are you’ve already started, but make sure you launch your plans for 2014 year-end fundraising now.  It’s easy to let the days get away from you and all of a sudden it’s nearing the end of November and you still need to write your letter.  Don’t let that happen!

Here are a few tips for a successful year end:

  1. Start with a plan.  Sit down and figure out what you’re going to do each week between now and the end of 2014.  Determine what you will do when.
  1. Examine your major donor lists.  Look at who gave larger gifts last year.  Have they given the same or more this year?  Are you still waiting to hear?  Go ahead.  Be proactive.  Pick up the phone and call them.  Have lunch, coffee, breakfast.  Talk about your mission.  Some will give.  Some won’t. 
  1. Write your appeal letter.  Start now to craft a clear, compelling letter that you will mail to your constituency.  Be sure to thank your donors, and let them know that you’d never be able to accomplish what you do without their help. 
  1. Identify your lapsed donors.  Anyone who has not given since October or November of 2013 should get a special letter from you, urging them to give.  The year end is a marvelous time to encourage people from whom you haven’t heard yet this year to give.  People usually think they’ve given more recently than they have. 
  1. December 2013 donors have not yet lapsed.  Don’t make the mistake of treating last year’s December givers as lapsed donors.  They’re not.  They may be come January, but they’re not yet.  Plan to mail to them.
  1. Mail deeper into the file, but not too deep.  Every organization is different, but your year-end appeal should go back a little further than normal.  Our advice to clients is to cover no more than three years.  So that means you shouldn’t send a letter to someone who gave their last gift to you in 2011.  Unless, of course, you haven’t mailed a letter since! 
  1. Use the phone.  This is a great time of year to have a personal touch with your donors.  Most people shun fundraising calls.  I’m not suggesting those.  Instead, recruit some volunteers to come in for an evening and simply make phone calls to your donors thanking them for their support.  It’s worth it.  Do it now and they’ll give in December. 
  1. Use email.  Increasing numbers of people are willing, and even prefer, to give online.  Make your email appeals easy to donate through, with clear links to your donations page.  You can repurpose your printed letter and use it online.  But keep your email appeals short and to the point. 
  1. Consider an alternative online strategy.  If you’re creative, you can probably come up with a way to send a string of three or four compelling electronic appeals through to the end of the year.  Tell an exciting story for example, in four segments.  That will keep people reading.  And, of course, post the content on your website. 
  1. Develop targeted landing pages online.  To help you measure effectiveness, establish at least three online giving pages, one for direct mail, one for email appeals, and one for people who are simply visiting your site.  If you’re active on social media, make one for that as well.  Keep your tracking simple.  But do it. 

Much more could be said, but if you apply even half of these ideas to your year-end effort, you’ll have a fruitful fundraising season. 

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