A friend of mine just turned 50 and I gave her the neatest little 50-year calendar paperweight. It’s a perpetual calendar that, with a few twists of a knob, shows the day of the week and the date for years to come. If you’ve never seen one, you can learn more here.
Just like the algorithms that make a perpetual calendar possible, fundraising moves along in a predictable cycle.
You know that year-end is going to be your busy time, you’ve got your gala date scheduled for the same month every year, and you’ll have a heck of a time making donor appointments in July.
A full fundraising calendar is very detailed and tailored to the needs of your organization, but we’ve seen themes emerge over the years and thought it would be useful to remind you of them as we roll on into 2019:
JANUARY: Analyze your results and get your plan set for the new year. Even if your fiscal year isn’t the calendar year, you should see where you are in January compared to projections. Make sure your fundraising plan for the year ahead includes every aspect of donor relations – from identification and qualification, all the way through to stewardship. Your fundraising calendar can’t just be a series of asks!
FEBRUARY: Get your messaging straight. Revisit your case for support and decide on the key messages you want to convey to your supporters in 2019. How are you going to communicate them through every channel?
MARCH: Ask your LYBUNTs (gave Last Year But Not This). What happened to all those folks who didn’t give in 2018? Time to tell them you missed them and try to reactive them.
APRIL: Review your welcome packet. If you don’t have a welcome packet, consider creating one so that your new donors really feel a part of the organization. At a minimum, take some time to review your stewardship and retention strategies for new donors. Why should they continue to give to YOU?
MAY: Focus on stewardship and major gifts. Don’t wait until the end of the year to connect with your best donors. Stay in touch with them all year and make sure you touch base with them now and then without making an ask! Oh, and by the way, it’s now or never for events. If you go much past this part of the year without knowing what events you are planning , you’ll need to give up now. It just takes too long to effectively plan any major events much past this point in the year.
JUNE: Make sure your website is up to snuff. You’ll want to gather some feedback, do some analysis, and make changes now before the giving season hits. Same with your social media. Are you doing the right things to reach your donors?
JULY: Analyze results from the year so far. So, where are you compared to budget? How many donors? How many gifts? What is the average gift? What variations are you seeing and what are your colleagues seeing in their organizations?
AUGUST: Pay attention to the board. Of course you should be doing this all year round, but it’s a good idea – before the year-end madness – to ensure that your board has everything they need from you to give generously and get gifts from others. Does each of them have their own fundraising plan? Do they feel empowered and ready?
SEPTEMBER: Plan out your year-end campaign. Make sure all the fundraising channels of your program are woven together to create an integrated campaign over the next three months.
OCTOBER: All asks should be out. By the end of this month, all direct mail asks and all proposals to major donors should be out the door. This gives you enough time to follow up effectively and as personally as possible
NOVEMBER: Follow up on major gift asks. Don’t wait until December to try to get in touch with your major donors. If you have proposals out, contact your donors as soon as you can and see if they can meet with you or at least have a phone conference to discuss the ask. (Remember May? Hopefully you provided some stewardship earlier in the year!)
DECEMBER: Follow up on all asks. December is the month to use every channel you have to follow up with as many donors as possible. You just lived through December – you get the drift!
You know by now that Front Range Source is all about the PLAN. For more thoughts on fundraising planning, check out our toolbox of free resources.
Here’s to a successful 2019!