In the e-newsletters I read, it looks like the holiday season — yes, the one in December — is just around the corner. And that’s good. After all, we have just a few days short of five months to prepare for what is, for many nonprofits, the most critical six weeks of the fundraising year.
To put it another way, 22 weeks from today is Thanksgiving. Are you planning your year-end fundraising push now? If not, you should be. It’s simply too critical for the future of your nonprofit to put off until the last minute.
Since getting into the holiday spirit in late June can be difficult (unless your office air conditioning is permanently set on “arctic”), here’s a two-step plan to get you in the right frame of mind.
Review what you did last year
What worked, and what didn’t? What would have benefited from more planning, and what can be “retrofitted” for 2014? (After all, recycling something that works well isn’t being lazy; it’s actually smart since you already figured out a winning combination.) What did your original plan look like — and how did it actually play out? What direct-response contacts with donors raised the most money?
Remember how frantic the month of November was for you last year? You don’t? Well, that either means you planned ahead, or you’re still numb from the experience. As the wise philosopher, Barbra Streisand, sang, “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.”
Take advantage now of available resources
This column was triggered by an email I received from Salsa Labs offering me an updated (and free) e-book, “The Essential Guide to Year-End Fundraising for Nonprofits of All Sizes.” If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, check it out by clicking here. Then read it, and make notes about what you need to do over the next 22 weeks.
Also, check out what others are doing. You may want to review my articles from January, “Looking Back at 2013’s Last Week of Fundraising, Part 1 and Part 2.” If you have a subscription toWho’s Mailing What!, look at year-end e-appeals — I found 70 just when I searched for “Giving Tuesday.” And if you set aside any year-end letters or emails you received last December thinking they would be good fodder for this year, get them out of the file and start gleaning your next great idea.
Speaking of Giving Tuesday, which this year is December 2,Artez Interactive reported that Facebook was responsible for sending 30 percent of traffic to donation pages on that day in 2013. And a third of all traffic to donation pages on Giving Tuesday came via mobile devices. Is your website mobile-optimized? Do you have a social-media strategy for year-end that maximizes these tools? If not, put this on your to-do list today so these important tools are ready for year-end.
Network for Good reminded us that although online giving represents less than 10 cents of every dollar raised, 10 percent of that giving is done on Dec. 29, 30 and 31. Is your online donation process simple and easily found on your website?
Things like changing websites and beefing up an email communication calendar take time, money and often buy-in from others in the company. Given all that, it can seem a daunting task. But come December, you’ll be glad you got to work early on fixing any less-than-optimal fundraising tools.
Your No. 1 goal for year-end 2014? Plan ahead so you don’t miss a single fundraising opportunity and you don’t die in the process. That means getting started today. You may hit some resistance or even feel a bit silly for suggesting a meeting about year-end fundraising when it’s only June.
But this old dog knows how critical those last weeks of the year are for fundraising. Starting now can make it your biggest success yet — professionally and personally.
Originally published in NonProfit Pro.