Scared of Year End?

by Marcy Heim on October 31, 2018

Boo! Happy Halloween! November is here! Whoopee!  halloween with pumpkin

November 1st can be really scary if your giving numbers or metrics are not where they “should” be.  Are you reaching for the excuses?  Too many competing drives in the community…not enough staff….need more people in the pipeline…the new tax laws.

Let’s stop the blame game and embrace this generous time of year! It’s a great time to be raising money. The economy is strong and people are feeling comfortable with their resources! They are interested and willing to invest in causes important to them.

Set your intentions for success and let’s go!

Marcy’s Top 10 Year-End Tips


Whatever you intended to do before now, forget it. Just start today. Don’t freeze over what isn’t done. Adjust to what makes sense now and implement what you select to do with gusto.

dream big2. Dream BIG!

BIG donors want BIG VISIONS!  Meeting your budget short-fall is hardly inspiring. You can certainly ask for operations support, but tell that story in terms of what each dollar will do for the trees, cats, babies, students, elderly, abused person, gifted student, water quality… You must see a big, bold future for your organization and inspire your donors to see it too.

3. Decide on the biggest gift YOU are going to give!

Give with JOY! Be clear on why you give and be prepared to tell your own story! Stay excited and positive about giving and your organization.

4. Use partners and small groups.

The holidays are a perfect time to connect people. Bring along a board member (not to ask), another donor, another staff member. Make it fun! Talk about what others are doing to wrap up the giving year on a high note.

5. Reach out NOW to reconnect.

Send a personal email to everyone you would ideally like to talk to about a gift prior to the end of the year.  Write it as if you are writing to one person. “I was just thinking about you. Today we had the most wonderful thing happen here and I wanted to tell you about it. (story) Let’s connect before the end of the year. I’ll be in touch.”

6. CALL all of your larger PYBUNTS.  (past years but unfortunately not this)

These folks need a sincere reminder. You are probably part of their giving plans they just need prompting. Use this call to sort out who is considering a gift from the rest. “Hi, Marcy here. Just checking in to see if investing with us again this year is something you are considering.” Or “I want to be sure I am available to help you accomplish your year-end giving plans with us.” They will most likely say, “Yes, need to get thinking about this” or “No, I am not planning a gift this year.”  This lets you focus on the folks who want to give. Narrow the list.

7. Say “Thanks” with NO ASK.

‘Thank you’ with your hand out for more is a big turnoff for all donors.

“Giving thanks for you today!”  Be genuinely grateful for the gift THEY choose to make.

8. Identify 3 key messages that clearly describe your organization.

What do you want anyone to immediately think when they hear your organization’s name? Use your year-end visits to give everyone the vocabulary to talk about what you do. Say these phrases in every call, every time.  Whatever happens this year, you are setting up a strong mental link for enhanced future giving. Keep the focus on the heart. Donors give with their hearts and justify it with facts…later.

Gift wrapped brown9. Write/say everything with a Giver focus

‘Have you ever experienced this?’  ‘Remember when you were such and such?’  ‘You are important to the kids living in the shelter’.  All YOU!! Not ‘we’ and ‘I’. Remember it’s your donor’s timeline, interests and values you are connecting for good this holiday. Your words are containers of power.


10. ASK your BEST year-end MAJOR donors.

These are high in your “best guess” rating for Capacity, Interest and Readiness based on what you know. Remember, in response to surveys DONORS ranked, “I was asked” as the second highest reason they gave.  The first was belief in your mission and wanting to make a difference.  Use my 3-sentence ask! No judgment about the size or purpose or if they say it is not a fit.

GET OUT AND TALK TO PEOPLE! Don’t get distracted with year-end giving gimmicks and if you are a small staff, pick a few things….year-end letter, Giving Tuesday and 3 emails that last few days of the year. Do those well.

Invite others to invest! Be light-hearted, upbeat, fun and positive. Leave any snarkiness, politics, and whining out of your calls. Be someone others WANT to see! This is true even if your cause is more solemn.

There is still plenty of time to see your most IMPORTANT folks and artfully ask them to join you in doing your good work. Sometimes instead of running from something scary in your life it’s easier to learn not to be scared of it! Set you mind to success. Choose energy! Choose joy! Choose fun!  I know you can do it!

Invest in JOY®



Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at

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