But, what about fundraisers? For us, this is crunch time. It’s like the last mile of a very long marathon – a marathon that started last summer when you created your annual fund plan, started recruiting your volunteers, and ordered more gift envelopes! This was followed by the start of school and the launch of your annual fund. Then, along came Homecoming, Grandparent’s Day, the auction, and lots of other events throughout the year.
And, here we are – in the last weeks of the fiscal year, the few short weeks before summer break begins. Some of you have already hit your annual fund goal, others are close, and there are likely quite a few of you who have a long way to go to hit your goal. Whichever bucket you fall into, NOW is the time to finish the year strong! With focus and these proven strategies, you can take advantage of these critical weeks.
Start with your LYBUNTs. These are donors who gave last year but haven’t made a gift yet this year. Pick up the phone and ask these folks personally. This is your best bet to get a renewal gift. This will be time well spent, and many of these donors will give again – especially when they get a personal call from you. Pay particular attention to the donors who gave last year between January and June – these are the ones to call first. Many people give again around the same time each year, and your call (instead of a letter or email) often leads to a bigger gift.
Publish a draft of your Honor Roll of Donors. You may be surprised at how many of your regular donors did not realize they haven’t given yet. Seeing a draft list of this year’s donors—and seeing their name missing—often motivates a donor to make their gift. It also may prompt them to reach out to you directly, and you can use this opportunity to steward them.
Publishing this list on your website is an inexpensive way to share it, but please make sure you call it a Draft list and remind donors of the fiscal year-end deadline. On this giving page be sure to have “Give now” button that takes them right to your donation page. The easier you can make it for them to give, the more likely they are to do so. Then, send an email to all constituents with a catchy subject line that will grab their attention. Folks who already have given will appreciate the touch, and those who haven’t will be reminded to give.
Make it easy for donors to give on your website. Speaking of your website, how easy it is for donors to access your online donation page? It should be right in front of them. Adding a “Give Now” button to any webpage has never been easier, so think about adding this to pages most visited, such as the year-end schedule, photos from field day, or next year’s registration page. And, always have the link available on your homepage.
Give your “Nos” one more chance to give. As fundraisers we sometimes get caught up in what we call “headtrash.” This is when we start to predict what the donor is going to do, based on what other donors have done, or based on the last ask we made when someone else said no. “Headtrash” is common, and you have to work through it, especially at year end. Get out of your own head, and pick up the phone. Call your nos, and share with them the impact their gift will make. When you call, acknowledge that they were not in a position to give the last time they were asked, and then give them the opportunity to make a gift. You may be surprised at how many people say yes!
Focus on email. Time is of the essence, and so are costs. Email is a great tool for fundraising asks at year end, and open rates are high as the school year nears the end (parents do not want to miss any important year-end instructions). Be sure your email has a link directly to an online giving page. And, use examples of what specific gift amounts can fund, for example, $25 provides two library books for students.
It’s no doubt that year-end is a crazy time for everyone, especially fundraisers. It can also be a fruitful time if you stay focused and are strategic with your efforts. Make a year-end plan, and then work the plan—through the last day of your fiscal year. Remember, the last mile of this marathon is always the hardest, but crossing the finish line of a successful annual fund is worth it.
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