By: Steven J. Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions
Fall is the fundraiser’s friend. It’s no secret that summer is the toughest season to get momentum in fundraising. Long days of sunlight draw people outside after the workday, and vacations vary, making sustained contact with your donors more difficult in summer.
But fall is a different story. People get organized at work to make that final push toward year’s end. Fall is a no-nonsense season where productivity is optimized before the inevitable lull that accompanies the holidays the last two weeks of the year.
Fall is the perfect time for fundraisers to likewise recommit to your mission and your annual plan. Here are a few suggestions how:
- Make plans for the holidays. “What?” “Now?” “It’s only September!“ This is the time to plan your end of the year thank yous to your major donors. They don’t need expensive gifts, but it is critical that you use the time of thanksgiving and of gift giving to let your donors know how grateful you are for their support and how much you appreciate the gifts they give your organization. Make these plans now and you won’t find yourself scrambling for their attention at the busy time at the end of the year.
- Organize your end of the year appeals. Make sure your communication plan is timely, consistent, and broad, and don’t forget that the final quarter is the time when most organizations receive their largest gifts. Get on the phone and arrange to meet your top prospects for major gifts now, well before the end of the year rush. Let them know that you want your organization to be a priority as they plan their charitable gifts for the approaching new year. And, most importantly, don’t forget to ask them for a gift!
- Tell some organizational success stories. Your fall calendar should include ways to communicate to your supporters that you are succeeding in your mission and that your organization relies on their support. Most likely you will plan a special event or two in the fall, but you should also communicate these stories via letter, email, and social media. Remember that your most convincing spokespeople are those who benefit from your mission. Resist the temptation to use your words to tell your donors about individual successes. Rather, let those individuals be the ones to tell their own success stories in their own words, with accompanying photographs to put a face on your organization.
Remember, fall is the fundraiser’s friend. A little planning right now will make for happier holidays for your organization and for your donors!