Yes, year-end fundraising season is still months away. But you know what really successful organizations are doing now? They are planning and getting their ducks in a row.
You might be thinking, “Oh those organizations are much larger than ours and are running much bigger year-end campaigns, so we don’t need to plan now.”
I have two responses to that kind of thinking.
If you have a goal of growing your organization’s fundraising, doing what you’ve always done is not going to take you to that next level
Even if your organization is small, you can be mighty and that starts with planning your campaign now.
That might seem like a bit of tough love, but I also want to encourage you to get out of your own way and shift your mindset. Our thoughts and habits are often the things that hold us back from leveling up and achieving big things. What if this was the year your organization pulled off a successful multi-channel campaign? What is this was the year you were able to exceed your Giving Tuesday goal?
Success down the road starts with planning now and today I want to give you a few tips to that you can use this summer to get ready for year-end fundraising.
#1 Do a post-mortem on the 2016 year-end campaign
If you didn’t do this in January, I want to encourage you to do this. You (and your team) should evaluate the goals you set against what you actually achieve. Were they realistic? Were you able to blow past them? This will help you set realistic stretch goals for this year’s campaign.
Think about what was easy and what difficult about last year’s campaign. Where did you find yourself getting stuck or feeling really stressed out? These are good things to re-evaluate for 2017. In particular, are there systems you can set up to make your work easier?
#2 Decide WHAT you are going to do
To be clear, I don’t mean that you need to go deep into the planning weeds. What you do need to do is just figure out what methods or channels you will use to raise money in December. This could include a Giving Tuesday campaign, a direct mail letter (or series of them), email appeals, major gifts, telephone fundraising, and more.
Pick your methods now and start to break down your goal accordingly. What can you expect to bring in through each method of fundraising? This will make the big goal seem more doable.
#3 Establish your timelines
What I see a lot of organization struggle with when it comes to a multi-channel campaign is the timing and roll out of everything. To mitigate this, I highly recommend that organizations create timelines for when various things are being sent out. This 1) helps you create work back schedules and 2) helps you see if you’ve got the right volume of things going out.
#4 If applicable, lay the groundwork for a matching campaign
Have you seen organizations do special matching campaigns or challenges during year-end fundraising? It’s not like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. This summer and fall is when you need to do the necessary cultivation work to solicit major donors.
If a matching campaign is in your future, make a prospect list and develop your cultivation strategy to make asks in September or October.
#5 Think about what you’re going to do to get annual donors ready to give
The giving cycle is always much more clear with major gifts and sometimes with annual donors, the cultivation work is skipped. There are a few things your organization can think about to make sure that you are building relationships leading up to year end asks. For instance, have you done enough to thank donors for their last gifts? You could make think you calls this summer or maybe send out a special stewardship piece. Additionally, have you kept donors up to date on what’s going on?
I’ll be the first to admit that a lot goes into a successful year-end campaign. But it is manageable when you start your planning further out. I hope these tips help you get a head start this summer!