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Reduce Your Year End Stress

How many of you said to yourselves on July 1, “I can’t believe the year is half over!”? And more importantly, what are you doing about it?

For nonprofit organizations operating on a calendar year, July 1 marks the beginning of the home stretch. For some nonprofit organizations, mainly educational institutions, which tend to operate on a fiscal year ending June 30, this marks the beginning of a new year and fundraising cycle.

Regardless of which tax filing calendar your nonprofit adheres to, 30% of all donations to nonprofit organizations come in the month of December. And 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the calendar year. That can make December an incredibly stressful time for nonprofit leaders, especially for those operating on a calendar year!

The key to reducing stress in December is to act now! July is the perfect time of year for planning because traditionally it is a slower time of year for fundraising.

Ignorance is not bliss. Start with some mid-year analysis. How are you doing year-over-year? Have you raised as much or more money this year as you had by this time last year? Compare the number of donations, the number of new donors, and the average gift size between this year and last. And finally, look at the percentage of donations received against your goal for the year, are you ahead of last year or behind? Your analysis might be great news, it might be comforting, or it might be terrifying, but after some mid-year analysis at least you will have an idea of where you stand.

Review your major gift prospects for the year. If you haven’t already, make a communications and events plan for stewarding your major donors and cultivating prospective donors for the rest of the year so they will be primed to give to your organization before December 31. Evaluate your largest donors individually to determine when and how you will solicit them for their annual gift and start making appointments to visit with them.

Update your grants calendar. Make sure you know when letters of interest and applications are due for each foundation that you are submitting to. It can take time to gather the information needed to write LOIs and complete applications. Create a schedule so you can pull the information together in a timely manner and don’t feel rushed to get your grant requests out the door.

Double check your direct response plan. With so many ways to reach out to large numbers of donors and a rapidly changing direct communications landscape, take a close look at how you’ve communicated with donors and prospects by mail, phone, email, and social media in the past. With rapidly rising costs of postage and printing and new ways to reach people online, ask what you can do better, more efficiently, more cost-effectively. Question whether more direct mail personalization, adding “ask strings”, more segmentation of your mailing lists, better outreach to new donors, more personalized thank you letters to first time In Memory Of (IMO) donors would help improve your results. Can you use predictive AI to better understand and target your donors?

By taking advantage of the summer doldrums over the next six weeks to analyze and plan out the next five and a half months with a detailed, time lined, to-do list, you can make your end-of-year much more enjoyable. Each time you cross an item off your list you will feel a reduction in stress and an increase in confidence as you know you are taking the right steps to reach your goal.

If you’d like to discuss putting together a “home stretch plan” or having a second set of eyes review your existing plan, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 518-636-9224.

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