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Friday, November 11, 2011

Quick Tips for Year End Giving

It's the most wonderful time of the year....the most productive fundraising time for almost every nonprofit organization is the last two months of the calendar year. Are you ready? Even if you haven't thought about your end of year fundraising efforts yet, you can still make it happen! Here are a few strategies to use to encourage year end gifts.


1. Direct mail.
The best time to mail is around Thanksgiving, so if you have not planned this out already, it's almost too late. But let's not think about perfect, let's think about DONE. Do a "holiday letter" from your organization--you can even use winter themed paper from the office supply store if you want! Write in an informal way about what you did at your organization this year, complete with pictures if you can, and add a request for a gift at the end of the letter. Mail this to your existing donor base with a return envelope, no other inserts. Or, if you don't have an existing donor base, have your board members mail it to at least 10 people each, and mail to any of your constituents. The key is to not spend too much time or money on this--imperfect is okay.

2. Website.
This is a no brainer. Make sure your website is set up to accept gifts online, and confirm that gifts will be charged to the donor's credit card as soon as the gift is entered online so that the donor receives proper credit for their tax deduction. If you already have online giving set up on your website, go online and make a gift yourself to see if it's going to be easy for the donor. If it's too complicated, try to streamline it as soon as possible. Put a reference to "give securely online at..." on every piece of mail that leaves your organization, starting immediately.

3. Social giving.
This is a good time of year to encourage your fans to encourage their friends to support you. There are a myriad of online social giving tools available, from things as simple as Facebook Causes to much more complex options. Here's a good list to check:  30+ Social Giving Sites that Connect People to Causes and Nonprofits

4. Email.
This is just direct mail via electronic delivery. The hardest thing is getting the email opened. Carefully craft your subject line, and if possible, have peers deliver the email to peers. This is a great way to put your volunteers to work.

5. Holiday gifts.
Encourage your board, volunteers and others close to your organization to request "in lieu of gifts, please make a donation to...." Have gift cards ready to go that are festive and "gift worthy." If the design is connected to your cause, even better. Beats fighting the crowds at the mall.

6. Events.
If you don't have an event already scheduled during the holidays, DON'T ADD ONE. There's enough going on as it is!

7. Major and Planned Gifts.
This is not the time to initiate new solicitations, really, but to close on those that are in process. Use the year end tax deduction awareness to nudge people into making a decision about a significant gift. Also, this is a good time to share information about planned giving in a quiet fashion, but not necessarily time to host a planned giving information session.

8. Advertising.
Ads in local media will work this time of year to raise awareness since people are paying attention to advertising during this heavy shopping season. Consider investing in an ad or two placed before Christmas.

Pick just one of these strategies and hopefully you'll see an increase in your year end support!

This blog is an excerpt from "Finish Strong! Strategies for Successful Year End Giving," presented for the Latino Public Radio Consortium's Cafecito y Pan Dulce Webinar Series.

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