Three ways to boost your year-end fundraising


As the year draws to a close, it’s important to take a look back at 2017 and take stock of your organization’s successes and struggles.

For nonprofit leaders, it’s a busy time focused on year-end fundraising and 2018 strategic planning. It can be difficult to set aside time for reflection, but it’s necessary in order to develop your organization and fulfill your mission. This kind of discernment and purposeful follow-up action are what distinguishes top-notch organizations.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Evaluate your performance: Look back at the goals you set for 2017. Were expectations unfulfilled, met or exceeded? Remember to engage your staff, donors and volunteers in this process through a year-end survey or poll. This can provide valuable feedback and help you identify areas of success and growth. Even if you fell short of one or more of your goals, an honest look at why that happened can provide you with important lessons for the future.

Thank your donors: Their generosity gave your organization the freedom to further its mission in 2017. Make sure to express your gratitude in a sincere and honest way. Handwritten notes are best, but also ask your staff and constituents to help out. Creativity is king, and you don’t need to be flashy! I especially like this year-end gratitude video produced by the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) — it’s simple, funny and heartwarming. Most importantly, use storytelling in your thank-you notes. Share specific success stories in your year-end communications and link those moments directly to your donors’ generous gifts.

Learn from year-end fundraising: Once you’ve finished processing year-end gifts, compile and analyze the information to gain new insights about your donors. In addition to updating contact information in your database, pay particular attention to who suddenly gave more to your organization in 2017, or who stopped giving altogether. This will let you get a head start on 2018 donor engagement and allow you to make the best use of your limited time.

December can be hectic, but taking time to reflect is critically important to becoming a better organization. As you do so, maybe you are realizing that 2018 is the perfect time to take a big step forward. Our team of 60 development professionals is ready to help you conduct your next planning study or capital campaign. I encourage you to contact me to see how we can help you successfully execute your next major fundraising effort.

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