Beginning in late November, the temptation is to concede December as too busy and intrusive for fundraising. We sometimes become tentative; we project what may not be true: that December is a bad time to ask because we are invading personal space.
In fact, in my experience, the opposite is true. Strong Decembers became a marker of my career.
Having worked in development for 37 years, I am very familiar with the pros and cons of this season as it relates to fundraising.
This off-schedule, nonworking time is in fact better for many families. People are less rushed and have time to be thoughtful about what is important to them, including their giving.
As a general rule, I worked very hard leading up to the holidays and then again soon after they ended. I never got any real push-back because I always asked, “Is now a good time to talk?” and I was respectful and gave permission to say no, not now. Aside from people running from me at parties, I experienced a lot of success with this approach.
Nine tips for December:
- Make November count! Continue planting seeds by promoting your mission, making calls and sending personal emails and notes. Promote year-end giving now.
- Create a list of donors who gave last November/December who have not yet given. Craft an “anniversary” note thanking them for their generous support at this time last year. Part of showing that you know them is understanding the traditional timing of their gift.
- Show appreciation to your donors and volunteers by sending special thank-you notes or calling them. Gratitude is important year round, and those who are thanked well become your strongest supporters.
- Connect with your key volunteers. If you know that they are likely to see their prospects over the holidays, find a way to mention how they are involved with the organization or campaign. You can keep it casual and not overstep, but if the timing is right it will remind them of your cause when they are making year-end gifts..
- Be positive and confident, remembering that many families will welcome a communication from you. By arranging a time that is convenient for them, you help them accomplish one of their own year-end tasks.
- Disseminate stock giving information in a timely fashion so people know how to do this when they are ready.
- Remember that someone will call the office on whatever day you finally give yourself a break. Have a plan for how you will receive gifts while your office is closed, and create explicit phone messages and written bounce-back email messages with instructions.
- Set up your January meetings now. Do not wait until the New Year arrives. Work now on your messaging for January 2019 (mid-year report, a year-end report, and an expression of gratitude).
- Recharge your own batteries, perhaps in early January. Remember that a good December can make the year.
Enjoy the season, and make it count!
Tax Tips: Tax reform under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) affects individuals, businesses, tax exempt and government entities. This article looks at important elements of the new law that have an impact on individuals, and this series covers issues in more detail. (Thanks to our accountants at DMJ & Co., PLLC for permission to share their content.)