4th quarter: not too late

The crazy, critical fundraising season is on! Ministries and nonprofits often raise disproportionally high percentages of their annual income during the last 3 months of the calendar year. I can tell from some moderately frantic emails that have come our way in the last few days that some of you are beginning to worry about how this year is going to shake out. This can be the time when you begin to doubt yourself and your plans.Don't Panic!

It works this way: your boss or your board or CFO asks if you’ve done everything you can to make sure that income will be up in December. Of course you tell ’em that everything is going to be great. And then you begin to worry.

Have you really done everything you can?

Is it too late to do anything to maximize income before the end of the year?

Bottomline: It’s not too late. Of course, you can’t do everything, but here are 6 good strategies that can improve your fundraising income before the end of the year.

  1. Double-check your direct mail selects. If you can still make some decisions about who you’re mailing in December, do some digging. Are you mailing a lot of low level donors who have never given you a gift above $10? You may want to rethink that and try to mail some lapsed donors who have given you large gifts in the past. Reactivating a donor whose single largest gift is $250 is far more cost effective than reactivating a donor whose largest gift is $10. This gets kinda complicated for a bullet point, but we’ve written on this in the past.   This is another time when I have to mention that you really want to be sure of the motivation of whoever is running your direct response strategy. Read more on that here.
  2. Get on the phone. A phone campaign to either thank donors or to ask for a current gift is often a wonderfully cost-effective tool for generating income. If you have the capability to phone your general file, call those lapsed donors. I suspect you don’t like phone campaigns, but if done right, you can actually build relationships and income with a good campaign. (Of course, don’t treat major donors and general donors the same).
  3. Easy on those email blasts. Here’s a deadly mistake. In times like this, the temptation is to start sending email blasts asking for gifts. After all, email’s free, right? Email doesn ‘t cost you anything — anything but relationships if you blow it. If you overdrive your email blasts you can cripple your ability to connect with donors through this key channel — overdo it and your donors will start clicking “unsubscribe” and then you’ve lost ’em. That’s an expensive loss. If you’re going to email a bunch, balance appeals for support with real news about your organization and thanking your donors and the community for their support.
  4. Double-check your website. It’s a sad thing to drive donors to your webpage only to discover that somehow your donation page doesn’t work the way you thought it did. When’s the last time you did an “Aunt Ruby” audit of your site? Click here to read about Aunt Ruby’s wisdom.
  5. Don’t talk about budget — concentrate on needs and opportunities. Everyone, everyone, everyone is going to encourage you to talk about your budget needs. Donors give to change the world and a change a person’s life not to balance your budget. Go easy on those budget numbers. And when you do talk budget, talk needs and lives to support that budget.
  6. Say “thank you” a lot. Are gifts acknowledged quickly and accurately? This time of the year many organizations get behind. You know better. But if you do get behind at least look for ways to take care of your major donors and those newly acquired donors quickly. Why spend all of that money acquiring a new donor just to ignore them for weeks and weeks.

OK, that’ll get you started. Get busy, don’t worry just carefully go about working your way through these items. More to come.

And we haven’t done a Good Job Monday shout out in a couple of weeks so it’s time. Today we’re calling out a pretty edgy guy — the infamous Gary Vaynerchuk — better known as “Gary Vee”. Gary is irreverent, bold, focused, intensely passionate and sometimes uses PG-13 language. And he’s relational, enthusiastic and most importantly, he cares! Hoots and I recently had the opportunity to meet and listen to him during his “Crush It” book tour here in Seattle. He had a lot to say (no surprise there), and he surprised us with many bold statements. Our favorite was this: “We are now in a thank you economy.” So as our way of saying thank you to GaryVee, in November, Oneicity is giving away a copy of Gary’s book, “Crush It.” Stay tuned for details.

So what about you? How’s your 4th Quarter looking? Are you expecting a huge percentage of your income in the next couple of months or is your income more even through the year? And what have YOU been up to the last few weeks? I always want to know what you’re thinking.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: Jim Linwood)

Picture of Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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