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Fundraising in the 23rd Hour October 5, 2010

Filed under: foundations,individual donors,strategic fundraising — fundtimes @ 12:21 am

In the September issue of Fund Times, I highlighted the importance of planning in ensuring a steady stream of income for your nonprofit.  While this is a good adage to live by, there are just some times when you have to roll with the punches and implement a quick fundraising campaign to help bridge a financial gap.  Especially, at the end of the year when you want to impress potential funders with a glowing IRS 990 Form.  I can see the twinkle in your eye already.

So what’s the best source for “low-hanging” fruits?  According to Giving USA, individuals are consistently the largest source of charitable contributions.  In 2008 alone, they gave 75% of the total donations granted to charity.  With the upcoming holiday season, folks will no doubt be primed to give as much as they can.  The following are a few ideas on how to kick off your “23rd Hour” fundraising:

  • Email your low-donors.  Crafting a short email appeal to your low-donors (e.g., those who give $100 or less) is an easy way to reach out to this group of supporters.  When thinking of what to say, highlight some of the strides that your organization has made this year, thanking them for their contributions thus far and asking for additional support to help you continue the work for the coming year.  Be sure to include a link to your website’s donation page (if you have no idea what I mean, shame on you) in the body of the email and plan to follow up with an additional email and/or phone call in a week or two.
  • Visit your major donors. Major donors are usually your high-dollar supporters and often come to your organization as a result of personal ties.  Unfortunately, with this group an email just won’t do.  Given the timeliness of the ask, it’s worth it to narrow down your list of major donors to a manageable few and arrange to meet with them in person before the end of the month.  And don’t be afraid to send out an “all hands on deck” for this one!  If one of your board members is the initial contact for a major donor, engage him or her in reaching out to set up a meeting on your behalf.
  • Tap your Board. It goes without saying that board members should be fully engaged in any major fundraising strategy.  This includes those of the “last minute” persuasion.  Consider asking your board members if they would make an additional donation to help your nonprofit reach its year-end goal.  One of my favorite fundraising stories is from my former supervisor.  He told me how he helped his organization meet its fundraising goal by pledging a significant amount, writing his decision on a piece of paper, and passing this handwritten note around to board members during a meeting asking them to join him.  Needless to say, the nonprofit made its fundraising goal that year 🙂 !

Now it’s your turn.  Have any great ideas for year-end appeals?  Share them here. I would love to hear from you!

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