It only seems natural:
- In December their donors' schedules are full of holiday parties.
- In December, many of their donors will go to additional church services.
- In December, snow can make travel difficult for events or appointments.
- In December, donors will want to spend time with their kids who are on break from school or college.
- In December, donors need to buy a whole lot more gifts than at any other time of the year so their budgets are probably tighter.
And if we're honest, as fundraisers we're tired. It's been a long year. Wouldn't it be easier to coast through December and get a fresh start in January.
Acknowledge your excuses...and get to work fundraising anyway
If you are going to stop fundraising for a month, choose a month like January or February, don't stop fundraising in December!
Experienced fundraisers know that December is one of the best times to do fundraising. All the parties and gift giving seem to get people thinking about others and help them become more generous. So use these next five weeks well!
Granted, you would have a more productive December if you've already sent a couple fundraising mailings this fall. And if you'd been consistent in soliciting your majore donor prospects. But there is still time.
A fundraising strategy for December
Here are three strategic fundraising activities you can do this month:
Call previous donors who haven't given yet
Run a report of your top 20% of donors. Make two lists, both lifetime giving and just last fiscal year. Call all of those people who haven't yet made a gift this year. (Fiscal year or calendar year doesn't matter. Donors usually think in terms of calendar year.)
Throw a party
Get out one more fundraising letter
Despite the headlines, direct mail isn't dead. (I heard one direct mail expert say direct mail is still alive because the people who read direct mail are still alive!) Do what it takes to get one more letter out to people. Make sure it follows good fundraising letter tips like those found here on FundraisingCoach.com or over on uber-copywriter Tom Ahern's blog.
Just get a letter out, and make sure to put a return envelope with it to make it easier for people to mail back their gift. (Studies I'm reading seem to say return envelopes without stamps work just as well as envelopes with stamps or with a BRE indicia. You'll want to test this for yourself.)
See if you can put together a high quality, low maintenance holiday party. Open houses are perfect for this. Getting donors and prospects onto the site where "the magic happens" helps them remember why they love your organization.
And if you don't pitch it as a "donor appreciation" event, you can add an ask. It can be as direct as:
"If you haven't made a gift yet this year, here's a form to help you do that."
Or it can be a bit more indirect:
"Thanks to your generous donations, our staff is able to do amazing things here at XYZ nonprofit. Who else should we be talking to?"
Don't throw in the towel
Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel. December is one of the best months to fundraise. Don't waste this opportunity. You're nonprofit mission is worth the extra effort you take in the next few weeks.