It’s here. Thanksgiving week. For so many nonprofits, this week feels like the unofficial season opener for year-end fundraising. True, this is a good time to run your LYBUNT and SYBUNT lists. Prioritize your calls. Start the push to hit December 31 in the black. Regardless of when fiscal years begin and end, the calendar year seems to be a habitual time for mid-level and rank-and-file donors. It still remains true that the number one reason people make charitable contributions is that they were asked. So yes, this is the time to make sure everyone gets asked.
But please… don’t push too hard.
Fundraising, like every other aspect of your leadership role, is easy to overdo. Our job as professionals is to give people the opportunity to make their best contributions to our organizations. This is true in the way we work with staff and lay leaders, and it is true for our relationships with donors too. At our most powerful, we are facilitators of positive action.
This idea applies to year-end fundraising in the form of making sure everyone on our list is presented with several opportunities to give. Repetition beats pressure every time. For those of you who are running multi-channel campaigns, good for you. You are well on your way through your unique blend of direct response, online campaigns, board solicitations, telemarketing, virtual events, etc. If your approach has been scattershot, it’s not too late to get organized. Get your lists sorted and prioritized. Determine which staff members, board members and other volunteers are available to pitch in. Think of yourself as the manager of the year-end campaign, not the fast and furious salesperson in pursuit of making a quota. Decide how each and every person on your list is going to hear from your organization in at least three different ways during the next 30 days.
Remember, you don’t have to sit on the phone around the clock to get this done. I remember this season from my days in the fundraising trenches as a time when many of us would feel surges of exhilaration, and then exhaustion. As a leader in your organization, this doesn’t do anyone any good – and it doesn’t get you better results. So no excuses. Work hard, for sure. Give it all you’ve got. But not more. You have a month left – get organized, get your troops together. Your mantra for this year-end fundraising season: Be clear on your goals, be a facilitator of action and create opportunities for giving. This is a good time to remind yourself that sincere, passionate and rigorous effort can also be gentle, joyous and just plain fun.