By Susan Ross.
Now that Election Day has passed, the calendar shows just eight weeks left to hit your year-end goals. Now is the time to get your message out and bring in the gifts you need for your nonprofit. Here is where to start:
1) Set a goal and get to work. Analyze your data and budget – how much money do you need by 12/31? Look up what you usually raise this time of year. You may have some catching up to do — you need to get out there and ask. Enlist your colleagues and Board members to help you bring in gifts.
2) Get your 2020 message right. Last year’s recycled message points just won’t do it. Take the time to uncover and tell new stories that are relevant to donors making a 2020 decision. Donors want to know how you meet needs, not what you need. Let them help by showing what will be different because of their support.
3) Adjust your message to the audience. Frontline pandemic response nonprofits may be asking for a second or third gift, and must explain what the needs are today and how they will use the funds. Those nonprofits who may have been pushed to the back burner need to step forward and reclaim their spot on a donor’s list and in their hearts. All nonprofits must describe their relevance and giving opportunities clearly.
4) Don’t let November get away from you. Remember that 1/3 of all annual giving occurs in the month of December, and most of those gifts were asked for in November. Plan for 1-2 approaches to important donors before month’s end, with additional follow-up as needed. Always focus on your highest-level prospects. Many donors meet with financial planners during November, and your request needs to be top of mind in their philanthropic budget.
5) Know when your donors like to send their gifts. Spend your limited time reaching out to donors who are 4th quarter donors most years. If you let them accidentally miss their personal giving cycle, your nonprofit may well lose them for the whole fiscal year. Remind them of the date and amount of their last gift when asking for a renewal or upgraded gift – they will appreciate not having to look up that information.
6) Pick up the phone. We are not talking robo calls here, we are talking about a real phone call from someone the donor knows at the nonprofit (the ED, a staff member, or a Board member). If no one knows them, then this is the year to fix that. Forget creating the perfect mail package: call your larger donors and tell them what’s going on and why they should be involved. Leave a warm personal message if you don’t get through.
7) Use whatever engagement mechanism you can. Thanksgiving has a nice ring about it. Giving Tuesday (December 1) is a great option, whether you do it in a big way or not. Publicize it in advance, and track the results throughout the day. Many nonprofits use a significant gift as a time-limited challenge for other donors on Giving Tuesday. December 31 is a great giving target for small and mid-size donors this year because the IRS set up some extra deductibility for non-itemizers that is only available in 2020.
8) Yes, there was an election. None of us knows what impact that will have on us, but don’t use that as an excuse not to get started. Stay focused on how your mission meets needs. One resource for staying abreast: the NC Center for Nonprofits is offering a free session on November 20: What the 2020 Election Results Mean for Nonprofits
These last two months of the year are a critical time for all nonprofits, and this exceptional year is no exception. There is tremendous generosity in our community – but remember, no one gives if they are not asked.