You need to finish strong.  It’s the end of the year and this is the make-it or break-it time for nonprofit fundraising.

If you’re still staring at a large fundraising goal and wondering what you can do to reach it, here are three strategies that will help you take it to goal.

Challenge Gift

Try a challenge (or matching) gift.  Consider your major donors and identify a handful that might be able to make a large gift at the end of the year.  Approach one of them and ask if he or she would be willing to offer a gift as a matching challenge. 

Not only will this get the donors you later appeal to excited with the thought of their gifts being leveraged, but also, this will likely energize your major donor.  Major donors like to know that their gifts will have impact.  If they make a large gift that will be matched by others, they will appreciate their gifts being doubled.  Your major donors want to help you and this is a powerful way to help.

Read a good article on negotiating challenge gifts in Nonprofit Quarterly.


Do Not Mail

At the annual International Fundraising Conference of the AFP in San Antonio in March 2014, I had the opportunity to hear Gary Hawkins of CCS speak about a multi-million dollar turn-around fundraising campaign of the Indianapolis Symphony.  Hawkins said that he and his staff decided not to send a direct mail letter to anyone who they wanted to ask for $400 or more. Instead, each donor who they were asking for $400 or more, was visited in-person. 

Fundraisers have long-known that in-person asks produce better results than mail or phone solicitations and yet, at the end of the year, we blithely toss envelopes in the mail expecting large checks in return from many major donors.  Why not go talk to them instead? If you can’t see them all personally, divide them up.  Pair them with board members if you don’t have additional development staff members. Deputize non-development staff members. Most importantly, don’t forget to assign your Executive Director some visits.


Ask again

And again.  Often people don’t respond immediately when you ask.  They put your appeal aside until pay day or to get to it later.  Unfortunately, many forget.  Or it gets buried in the inbox.  Or tossed out with the junk mail.  Don’t assume that because you have sent someone one appeal letter, that they’ve been asked.  Ask again.  You can send a reminder postcard saying something like “We’re still hoping to hear from you” or “Your support makes a difference.”  You can also email (more than once, even).

I know fundraising professionals get lots of push-back from non-fundraising personnel and board members about asking too often, but you need to be asking frequently this time of year.  From retail marketing, we know that it takes multiple times for a person to hear a message before they make a purchase.  The same is true in fundraising.  Ask again.

Want more ideas to bring your year-end fundraising to a successful close?  Contact us.