Lift up Philanthropy – Part 1

by Marcy Heim on October 27, 2021

It’s year-end and YOU are in this honorable and noble profession called Fundraising and Development.

Marcy & Scott

Whatever your role or title, are you scared or wildly excited, or a mix this year-end?

Well, let’s save the scared for Halloween!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  (Although Scott Haumersen, a Managing Partner at Wegner CPAs, and I don’t really look too scary even at Halloween!)

Instead – let’s be wildly excited!  Here’s how.

FIRST – Here are three year-end fundraising statistics every fundraiser should know.

1. Nearly one third (31%) of annual giving occurs in December.

This means that of the $471 BILLION given in 2020, a whopping $157 BILLION was given in December, 2020. 80% of this was given by individuals – just like the folks that support you.  Been like this since I got into this work in 1983…and 2020 was no different.

2. Nearly one third of all non-profits make some sort of year-end ask in November and December.  Direct mail is still the most popular medium for year-end annual asks. “In person,” however that looks now, for major gifts.

3. Two-thirds of people who give do no research before giving and 79% of volunteers give where they volunteer/serve. Donors give because their values and beliefs align with your mission – they already know you or someone they trust suggests supporting you. This also hasn’t changed in decades.

SECOND – Here are three year-end fundraising actions every fundraiser should take.

1. Lift up philanthropy.

The year-end season is a big deal. Instead of frenzied actions, STOP and consider who really are the people who care about your mission the most. Focus in rather than thinking about how widely (and often wildly) you can cast the net. Celebrate the joy of giving rather than chasing the bottom-line. Segment and personalize. Capacity – Interest – Readiness. Your bottom line will increase when you aren’t desperate about it.

2. Start right now.

Don’t hold off on your year-end conversations. Write those 3-sentence asks now ( Don’t regret the major donor conversations you didn’t have! Sure, it may be awkward with some folks where the space between visits got longer than “ideal.”  Solve that with, “It’s been too long since we connected. How ARE you?!” “I want to be sure we have enough time to accomplish your year-end giving plans for us.” Yes, you are assuming they have some year-end giving planned for you. Start the conversation now so that your givers have time to plan ahead and always establish and manage the next action with them.

3. Create a terrific donor experience.

Write your core thank-you letter now that you can easily modify as gifts come in. In other words, start with gratitude. It’s your first step toward providing an experience that inspires year-end and continuing generosity. Keep board and staff colleagues in the loop on the asks you are making and encourage their participation and support. Most of all – don’t judge. Your part is to provide the opportunity – not make the giving decision. This potential gift is part of a lifetime of giving and sharing you have with these givers. It’s not a blind date. Be especially in tune with retaining your volunteers – board, service helpers, others. This builds the foundation for some of the most engaged donors in the future.

THIRD – Take control of your year-end story.

What’s going through your head? Starting too late? It’s a hard time? It’s just different this year?

No matter how talented or driven you are, low emotional capacity will limit what you can achieve. This is your capacity to overcome limiting beliefs on your possible results, how quickly you can adapt to challenging situations and the quality of your relationships.

Mike Dooley quote

Your emotional capacity is not fixed. Just as we can improve physically by exercising, we can get better at managing our emotional reactions and keep steady when inevitable hurt, pressures and disappoints strike.

Marcy quote the story you create

Make your own gifts, leave tips, hold a door, give a compliment. Take control of your year-end story with simple acts of gratitude – for the conversations, the gift, the “not this years,” the scheduling changes, the indecision, the successes, the surprises, the challenging conversations, Build a steady state that doesn’t flinch with the latest headline, obituary, yes or no, but is simply grateful for the experience it makes in your life. Suggest to your donors they might be grateful that they can give!

You are an amazing vessel of spontaneity, creativity, and strength!  Looking forward to seeing the results of the terrific stories you create!

Invest in JOY®

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