Tag Archives: year-end fundraising

Nonprofit solicitation cycle

donateWhen is the right time to solicit a gift from a current donor? Do you send a letter once a year and hope for a gift? That’s one strategy. Some nonprofits believe it is a good one. Their logic: “we don’t want our donors to feel we’re always asking for a gift” Here’s our guidance: begin the solicitation process when you say “thank you.”

You want to create awareness, provide opportunities for engagement, report on your progress, and encourage donors to make additional gifts. Touch your donors with three solicitations throughout the year: two should occur before your year-end solicitation. Each donor should hear from you throughout the year, regardless of the size of their gift. Tailor your communication to meet their method of giving.

Here are 11 suggestions for your consideration.

  1. When you receive a gift send a thank you note and receipt within 48 hours.
  2. Take a moment to create a connection: depending on the size of the gift and the location of the donor follow up with a visit, phone call or personal email.
  3. Keep your donors informed. Send a progress report on the organization, your campaign and impact. Include photos and quotes. Share upcoming events and dates. Keep it short – make every word count. Send via U.S. mail or email. You can also post to social media, but don’t let that take the place of personalized communication.
  4. Extend an invitation to visit your facilities and see your programs in action. Invite donors by phone, or with an electronic or print invitation. Again, keep it personal.
  5. Encourage donors to become involved. Share information about one-time or ongoing volunteer opportunities. Be as personal as you can, inviting people to volunteer for programs or activities you believe are a match with their interests.
  6. When you have events take the time to send an invitation. Pick up the phone for an extra personal touch for long term supporters (regardless of gift size) and major donors.
  7. Send another progress report. Consider highlighting a specific program. Include a solicitation. Don’t worry – you are not “over asking.” People cannot give if you don’t give them an opportunity to support your work.
  8. If you haven’t yet made a personal call, have someone from your organization call to share information and provide an update.
  9. Send a “state of the organization” report. Written by the executive director, this is an annual review sharing the strengths, challenges and opportunities facing the organization. Go ahead, include a solicitation.
  10. In early November send out your year-end solicitation.
  11. Start the cycle again with thank you.

Think of this: 30% of this year’s donors may not give again next year. Can you afford that?

Thank you begins and ends the solicitation cycle for a nonprofit.

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

2013 Fundraising Reflections

Part one of a two part series

Out with 2013 in with 2014, 2013 Fundraising Reflections, 2013 AccomplishmentsThe yearend can be a perfect time to reflect on your 2013 fundraising activities and to anticipate 2014. If  you are a nonprofit CEO, board member, staff or volunteer we have three questions to focus your reflections.

#1 – What have you done well? Reflect on your nonprofit’s fundraising successes. Approach this from a feeling level – which activities brought joy or excitement to you and your team? When did you feel you worked well together? Were there unexpected moments of joy – perhaps when receiving an unanticipated gift, or upon viewing a room full of donors and supporters at your annual event? Was a new staff person hired? Did she inspire good feelings as she implemented long-delayed projects? Feel the good feelings and record a few notes.

Now approach this from a fact-based place. Pull out fundraising reports and look at the year-end numbers. Identify areas where revenue increased. Perhaps your nonprofit saw an increase in annual giving. Maybe more donors increased their giving from the prior year. Did the number of grants increase?

Finally, reflect on new programs, events or technology. Was a program to engage younger donors launched? A new database implemented? Remember to list activities that brought in revenue for 2013, as well as those that plant seeds for the future. For example, while a planned giving program may not yield revenue for years to come, implementing the program is a current year success.

#2 – Which activities or strategies didn’t meet expectations? Reflect on those things that didn’t go as well as planned. Don’t sweep them under the rug. Take time to remember the outcome you had sought and compare that with the results. What could have been done differently? Where did you feel disappointment, fatigue, anger or failure? What brought these feelings on? Dig deep. Were you disappointed in yourself? In volunteers, board members, the CEO or staff? Write down your thoughts. Look again at the fundraising reports. Which activities or strategies did not yield the anticipated revenue? Take notes.

#3 – Were your 2013 goals realistic? Reflect on your goals and outcomes. As 2013 began, did you feel your fundraising goals were achievable? Did you feel expansive, empowered and energized, ready to talk with donors and funders and share the organization’s vision and fundraising goals? Or did you feel overwhelmed, worried and isolated? Go back to those feeling places and take a few notes.  Pull out your 2013 fundraising plan. What were the financial goals and timeframes? What resources were allocated to achieve the goals? Did staff, board members, the CEO and volunteers fulfill their commitments? Did you? What went “according to plan?” Where did challenges arise? As you think back over the year, were the goals realistic? Take notes.

Next week: use your reflections as you plan for 2014

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.