A Guide for Nonprofit’s Year-End Fundraising Action Plan
Have you started planning your year-end fundraising strategies? Hopefully, the answer is yes, and you’re already implementing your plan. If not, don’t worry; you still have time. But you will need to hustle and get your plan into action.
What is a typical year-end fundraising action plan? The end of the calendar year is when the majority of funds are raised for most nonprofits because of tax purposes. However, if your organization’s fiscal year runs on a different calendar year, you’ll likely have a second large giving rush around that timeline. However, December 31st remains the busiest day to make a gift, so you’ll want to begin your year-end fundraising push well before then to capture as much philanthropy as possible.
What to Include in Your Year-End Plan
A robust year-end fundraising plan includes an annual appeal and a major gifts push. Your major gifts push will help to secure large donations backing specific programs or efforts your nonprofit is working towards, you can define these gifts by where money is needed the most. Your annual appeal is your letter campaign and should include targeted, defined segments.
For example, your letter should target your base in a few different ways. Your letter to typical annual donors should look slightly different than a lapsed donor. Make sure to acknowledge each segment’s particular donor style, i.e., thank the every-year donors in one letter and invite the lapsed donors to come back to you in a different letter. Your donor assumes the letter is going to many people, which is OK, but it should also feel as if it’s speaking to them. An excellent annual appeal letter should be about one page; any longer is too wordy. Articulate why you’re asking for money by emphasizing “why now” and what you’ll “do with the funding.” The ask should be clear and compelling.
Every organization must also target its major donors toward year end with a different appeal. Ideally, you’ll have in-person meetings with each major donor and then follow up with a proposal. However, if the timing doesn’t work, you can send a tailored, specific letter with an ask.
Year-End Strategy Implementation Timeline
The best time to begin implementing your year-end fundraising plan is late summer and early fall to beat the rush of gift asks. You’re competing against many worthy organizations, so get ahead of the pack with both the annual appeal and the major gift ask.
Ideally, you’ll have determined your major gifts targets and strategies earlier in the calendar (we like to do this in January), so the late fall is closing loose ends, closing gifts, or pushing an ask until the following year.
Donors tend to make their year-end giving budgets before Thanksgiving. For the annual appeal, you want to drop letters in the mail in early November so your donors are considering their giving plans toward you before Thanksgiving. You want to be asking first.
If your appeal is done via email, the same rules apply. Get those asks out in early November and keep after non-donors up through December 31.
A blend of hard copy mailed letters and follow-up emails work best, so we suggest that plan. Your last email should go out on December 31! Again, start early and follow through until the end of the year.
With the end of 2022 just around the corner, contact us if you’re interested in learning more about how to navigate your organization’s year-end fundraising action plan! Good luck!!