Before #GivingTuesday, I challenge everyone to subscribe to one of the Presidential candidates’ email newsletters. It doesn’t matter which candidate you pick…You’ll immediately begin receiving multiple messages in a single day…And all of them will ask for money. Every single one.
A lot of money is given in the final 3 days of the year. What can you do to finish strong? Here are 5 things you can do to ensure your organization starts the New Year strong!
The Year We Almost Didn’t Get the Gift
For many years, I worked as an Executive Director for a counseling center in Northeast Georgia. Almost all of the staff were mental health professionals except for me and almost all the work other than therapy—fundraising, communications, IT, HR, maintenance, grant writing—fell to me (along with just one or two others).
If our donor newsletter was going to go out, I wrote it personally. It was challenging sometimes to get it done. One year, it just seemed like it didn’t get done and it didn’t get done and it didn’t get done. We sent out a few electronic newsletters, but the print one just never got written or sent.
We had an incredibly supportive major donor who annually made a very generous $10,000 gift. Looking back, I appreciate her even more now than I did then. She demanded very little attention. She just gave and gave and was incredibly supportive. With no effort on our part and no fanfare on her part, her generous gift would just appear on our administrative assistant’s desk one day each December.
Then, the year we were too busy to communicate with our donors, our Board President got a call from her. She asked to meet. When they got together, she said she wasn’t sure she was going to give that year. She just didn’t feel connected, she said. She couldn’t remember the last time she had received a newsletter from us and she felt like she didn’t know what was going on with the organization.
Reach Their Hearts, Not Their Heads
I love committees. I’m serious. I do. Those of you who know me personally know, I’m an extrovert. I’m energized by being in a room full of other people. I love brainstorming and discussions.
But there are somethings a committee shouldn’t do and writing your end of the year appeal letter is one of them.
Thinking About Social Media Advertising
“Should we use paid social media advertising?” a friend who is an Executive Director at a nonprofit asked. “My Board of Directors has been suggesting that I look into it,” she continued.
My first question for my Board, if they asked me to consider social media advertising, would bewhy. To what end would we be advertising? Would we simply be working to “raise awareness” or would we have a more specific call to action in mind? If our purpose was to “raise awareness” to what end would we be doing that?
Part of our responsibility to our donors after receiving a gift is to report back to them about what the donations they’ve entrusted to us have accomplished. We know they want to hear from us about the impact of their donations.
If we’re good at donor stewardship, we do this in multiple ways and in an ongoing fashion.
- We call our donors and say things like, “Hi! The tractors arrived on site today and started clearing for the new building and I was just thinking about you and how you’ve made this possible.”
- We invite them to our campuses and show them work in progress or programs in action.
- We meet them for coffee and bring them pictures of something that happened last week that they wanted to see.
Informally, the updates are regular.
But every once in a while, we do formal updates through Annual or Impact Reports as well. As many of us plan this time of year to write and design our Annual or Impact Report, what should it convey?