August 11, 2017 Keith Cleghorn

Years ago, on Christmas Eve, I rushed out of the house in a hurry to find a last-minute Christmas present . . . it wasn’t the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever given.

I’ve learned a lot since then, mainly that it’s much better to plan these things in advance! And the same is true for your fundraising efforts . . . The planning that goes into your year-end fundraising is among the most critical of the entire year. And the good news is, right now, there’s still time to make an impact!

Many of the organizations we partner with raise a full 25% of their annual budget in the month of December alone—and much of that is given in the second half of the month. In fact, Network For Good reports that 11% of giving happens in the last three days of the year! These final days of the calendar year could mean the difference between growth and decline for the entire fiscal year.

That’s why it’s critical to extend the invitation to make an impact, and appeal to financial givers for their support.

But year-end giving decisions begin long before the transactions take place—communication with your donors begins in November, with follow-up messages scheduled throughout the holiday season. As you are planning your year-end communication, here are some things to consider:

Make the appeal donor focused.

Be sure that your communication is about the donor. Help them visualize the impact they are making in the lives of those touched by your organization. Communicate your needs in terms of the ultimate recipient—the people whose lives are directly impacted by your organization.

Make it easy to give.

Remove the barriers to giving that your supporters may experience. After receiving a letter in the mail, they may want to return their gift with the reply envelope. But make it clear that they could also give through your organization’s website—that may be easier for some supporters.

Time the landing.

At Douglas Shaw & Associates, we’ve found that one of the most effective ways to accomplish an increase in year-end giving is by simply timing when your year-end appeals arrive in mailboxes! After you have mailed your initial year-end communication, another key letter is the follow-up appeal. Make sure this lands in mailboxes with only a few weeks remaining in the month. In 2016, by carefully timing the landing of year-end appeals, our clients received $5,000 net for every 1,000 pieces mailed.

Coordinate your efforts.

Emails and other digital messaging that restate the need communicated in a mailed appeal letter can help boost year-end giving. These additional multi-channel efforts can begin a few weeks before the end of the year. Then remember to include additional follow-up communication as the year comes to a close.

The key is being there—in the inbox and the mailbox—with a message that is personal, that is about your supporters and the impact they are making in the lives of those touched by your organization.

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