Fall is coming…are you ready for year-end?

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Many of us had big plans for the summer.  No, I’m not talking about the trip to the lake or the summer vacation to the west…I’m talking about plans for the year end appeal that we intended to finalize but we got a smidge railroaded with other projects and it just didn’t quite make the cut.

Now is the time…write your letter (short – some experts now say 2 paragraphs max, compelling, pictures, infographics, etc.) and get your Board behind it.  Say you have a Board of 15 members…ask each one to write notes on 5 current donor letters.  Need more donors?  A great source is from your Board…ask each member for 5 new names to include and have them write a personal note on those as well.  Engagement of the Board is critical for your annual appeal…and, it’s pretty easy!  You do the legwork and make it easy for the Board to complete this important task. Drop the letters off at their office or home mail box for signature.  Provide them with sample notes to write at the bottom of each letter.  The bottom line…it’s our job to make it easy and effortless for our Board members.

One of my recent clients recruited 10 members from the community to just serve as the year end appeal committee.  The Board still did their part, but, the ad hoc committee was given one simple task.  Attend two meetings – the first one, provide names of 15 new potential donors and write notes on these letters.  The last meeting, attend a gathering in January with the committee and Board to celebrate the success of their efforts.  Sometimes folks want to help but have little time to fully commit to a Board or a steady volunteer position.  By engaging other members of the community, this agency was able to build its donor base across the years with the help of new folks to serve in this efficient and easy way.

Finally, once the gifts start rolling in, don’t forget to thank and thank and thank!  An email to the Board member is essential when one of their friends or neighbors makes a gift.  While an official thank you letter goes out from the not for profit, it’s important for the Board member to personally thank their friends as well.  Maybe it’s an email, a call, or a handwritten note they choose to send.  You can even make this easy for your Board members by sending them sample thank you note language that they can easily personalize and make their own.

When you engage your Board members and other friends of your not for profit at year-end, I promise, the fruits of your labor and your extra steps to involve them will pay off!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

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