So, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and when we all get back to work on November 26th, we’re just four days away from December.
Are you ready?
1. Find the Gap: To really be able to prioritize and plan for this crucial fundraising month, you first need to figure out how far you have to go. Sit down and look at each fundraising constituency or program you have going and figure out the gap between your actual income at the end of November and how much you were budgeted to raise by December 31, 2012. You’ll need this to prioritize your work plan in December. If you’ve met your budget on foundations, but you’ve got a big gap on individuals, where will you put your time?
2. It’s All About Follow-up: Hopefully by December 1st, you have put an ask out to all of your donors. If not, that’s your first priority. But generally, December is not the time to start asking, but rather the time to follow-up your solicitations using every channel available to you. If you dropped a piece in the mail, send a reminder to those that didn’t respond. If you have outstanding grant requests, phone your program officer and see what the possibilities are for distribution before December 31. If your major donors received proposals or personalized letters, use the phone, e-mail, and social media to try to reach them and determine whether they need anything from you to make their year-end decision.
3. Go From the Inside Out and Top Down: But what if you have way more donors than you can possibly follow-up with in December? You’re going to have to prioritize. We like to think of it this way. Sort your list by those people who are the closest to you – those who are most likely to give you a gift (from inside out). This is usually a list of those who have gave last year, and board and volunteers. Then sort that list by previous gift amount and start at the top (from the top down). Go as far down that list as your resources will allow.
4. Line up Your Help: Year-end is the perfect time to enlist the help of others. Ask board members to make follow-up calls to donors they know. Ask program staff to write e-mails to update major donors on program plans. Ask volunteers to write thank you notes. Try to involve as many people as you can in this year-end push and let them know what a difference their involvement makes.
5. Plan It Out: December is a slippery month. It’s here and gone in an instant. Make sure it doesn’t evaporate for you. Use our [Download not found] to generate your own activities every day of every week in December. While you may not use every idea, it will give you some help in thinking through the timing of your own efforts. Then, plot it out on a calendar day-by-day. You’ll be glad you did!
6. Don’t Miss a Day of It: I can tell you from experience that donors don’t take the holidays off. There are oodles of true stories of really BIG gifts coming in during the last days of December. Do you want your big gift to go to voice mail? Or get buried in an e-mail box until January 4th? Make sure that you have a plan in place so that your donors can contact you directly if they need to. (Oh, and do make sure that donate button works, too. When I was a staff member, I used to check it every morning and every afternoon just to be sure…)
You can do it! And we’re here for you if you need us. Check out our Toolbox for loads of free resources.