Hello, fundraisers, it’s finally January – Happy New Year!
January is a time when fundraisers breathe a big sigh of relief after the whirlwind of work that is End-Of-Year (EOY) fundraising. However, while you may no longer be actively cultivating and soliciting gifts, your EOY fundraising work is not quite done.
As we’ve been discussing on our YouTube channel, there are still important – indeed, critical – questions you need to answer and act on in order to leverage your EOY fundraising efforts throughout this new year.
#1: Do you know when you’ll stop counting gifts toward your EOY campaign?
With gifts to your EOY fundraising campaign continuing to trickle in throughout January (and perhaps even longer!), do you know your deadline for stopping the count?
To cut the suspense, there’s no single right answer to this question. Nonprofits handle this question differently based on their fiscal year and other accounting considerations. The most important thing is that your deadline is consistent year to year. So if you’ve never set one firm deadline, make 2023 be the year you do!
#2: How are you going to steward your EOY donors?
You asked, and your donors responded to your invitation to give! Now, beyond sending them the legally required donation receipt, how do you plan to say thank you and keep your donors feeling connected to their gift?
Will you send personal emails? Make phone calls? Do social media shout-outs? Send something in the mail, like an impact report or annual report? Host an event? And when on the calendar will you make this additional outreach?
At Thread, we like to distinguish that a receipt is a form of acknowledgement, while stewardship is a form of appreciation. Need more tips for how to steward your donors and to show appreciation for their investment in your mission and work? We have you covered!
#3: Will you involve your board members and other volunteers in stewardship?
It’s a cliché that fundraising is a team sport. However, cliché or not, inviting your board members or other volunteers to help you in donor stewardship is a great way to expand your capacity for stewardship! Moreover, by asking people to help you say thank you, you’re increasing the number of donors who will hear that message and feel better connected to their decision to give.
So, will you involve your board and other volunteers in donor stewardship? And if yes, how?
#4: Will you send an annual report or an impact report, and what’s the difference?
Many nonprofits choose to send a report to their donors as a means of stewardship. What kind of report will you decide to send?
Will you send a longer and more formal annual report that includes a review of your past fiscal year’s financials? Or will you send a shorter impact report that is exclusively programs-focused?
#5: Are you prepared to do a donor welcome series?
New, first-time donors will most likely come your way during EOY fundraising, which is great! The less great reality is that retention rate for new online donors is only 20%, meaning most nonprofits lose 80% of the new donors they just acquired.
A great way to keep new, first-time donors engaged is through an email welcome series – a coordinated series of emails that build a donor’s awareness of and interest in all you do, and that typically culminate in a clear call to action to get more involved.
#6: How soon will you ask your donors to give again?
Most nonprofits err toward the (overly) polite cadence of soliciting their donors once per year.
However, we are here to tell you in no uncertain terms: that’s too long to wait!
The data is clear that waiting a full year to ask again results in lower donor retention, lower gift amounts, and lower lifetime value from your donors.
#7: What lessons did you learn from your 2022 EOY Fundraising?
All fundraising is experimentation, and no doubt you tried a few things in 2022 that you definitely want to do again, and others you definitely don’t.
Where are you capturing these lessons learned and reminders for the future?
We recommend compiling an EOY fundraising wrap-up report (see here for a tutorial on how!) that captures your performance data, tracks your email and social metrics, AND records all the things you want to remember for next year’s campaign. We promise, your future self will be incredibly grateful that you made a solid wrap-up report!
Want more details on these questions and their answers? Check out our YouTube channel! We have a full playlist devoted to these questions about what to do after EOY fundraising.
Interested in talking more about your specific answers for your organization? Let us know! Email us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to continue the conversation!