I hate to be the one to break the news, but in just over eight weeks, it will be 2013. All the good intentions that were all shiny and bright last January will have either helped your bottom line or fizzled under the weight of everything else that demanded your attention.
But there are still eight weeks — and that’s plenty of time for some last-minute efforts that can produce income without driving you right over the abyss. I’ve compiled a list of eight things that won’t take much time but have the potential to raise money before Dec. 31. And I’ve listed them as a checklist to give you the satisfaction of celebrating progress with a check mark. Ready? Here goes!
Fundraising to-do list
__ Week of Nov. 5: Make sure your donation-processing team (be that one person or 50) is ready to handle an increase in donations at year end. Check to be sure your backup staff is ready to help. Repeat a training session if needed. You know the surge in donations is coming. Prepare now so you can receipt donors quickly and accurately.
__Week of Nov. 12: Call three donors who gave significant gifts in 2013, haven’t given yet in 2012 and aren’t being actively solicited already. Tell them a few of your accomplishments this year, and ask them to give gifts before Dec. 31 to help you do even more in 2013.
__ Week of Nov. 19: Prepare an e-mail to go out to donors on Monday, Nov. 26, reminding them that Tuesday the 27th isGiving Tuesday. Granted, we have no idea how “big” this newly declared event is going to be, but we can assume there is going to be some publicity surrounding it. So be sure your donors think about you first when they hear or see promotions for Giving Tuesday.
__ Week of Nov. 26: Dec. 1 is this Saturday, so make sure you begin signing holiday greeting cards for the donors you have (or should have) personal relationships with. Feel free to write a personal note and stray from the “corporate messaging” based on what you know about these friends of your organization. After all, donors are just people who decided to support your cause; they appreciate the human touch, too.
__ Week of Dec. 3: Send out your first e-blast of December, reminding donors how important their year-end gifts are to your programs. In a short message, tell them clearly how you will use their donations to fulfill your mission. Make it easy for them to click through to a landing page that immediately lets them give their gifts. Don’t send them on a scavenger hunt through your homepage and a dozen subsequent pages; they are likely to give up before they give.
__ Week of Dec. 10: Choose five donors to call and thank for their support while wishing them happy holidays. Sincerely let them know what a difference they made with their generosity. Shock them by not asking for a gift. Once they recover, they will most likely feel so warm and appreciated that they will response by sending in year-end gifts. (No promises, but what do you have to lose?)
__ Week of Dec. 17: Send out a “soft” e-mail wishing your donors happy holidays but also encouraging a gift before the end of the year. Be sure you give them a reason to stop everything and donate — a great program you are going to launch right after the holidays, for example, or an urgent need that you are responding to right now.
__Week of Dec. 24: Get your final e-mail of 2012 ready to go, and schedule it to arrive in your supporters’ inboxes Dec. 29, 30 or 31 (depending on what day has been most effective in the past). Make it as easy as possible for them to give, and remind them that a gift by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 may be deductible on their 2012 taxes. I know the studies show that donors state the tax deduction isn’t what motivates them, but the reality is that many nonprofits receive an outpouring in donations the last few days of the year.
__ Dec. 31: Have a wonderful New Year’s! Take a minute to reflect on all the good you helped make possible in 2012, and then rest up, because 2013 is going to be another busy year for fundraisers everywhere.
Originally published in NonProfit Pro.