Nonprofits, do you believe in Santa Claus?

Nonprofits who conduct yearend campaigns may unconsciously believe in Santa Claus. Some – though by no means all – are looking for a yearend windfall gift to appear between now and December 31st. Staff and board members sweat out the yearend, checking the mail and organizational bank accounts. Their fingers are crossed, and many are popping antacids. Nervous doesn’t begin to describe the situation. As the days count down, reality may sit in, and talk may turn to “next year” as hope for the yearend diminishes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. And yes, there is still time to move from anxiety and into action. First, we want to share best practices that can reduce yearend craziness.

Organizations who are successful in their fundraising know they have enough prospective donors with the combined financial capacity – and interest in their organization – to give three times the amount they need to generate between now and the end of the year. And, they have been working with these individuals over the year.

Nonprofits who are strategic about their fundraising know what percentage will come from board members, foundations, organizations, corporations/businesses, individuals, and special events. They have developed strategies six months to a year in advance to help ensure that donors will come in where they expect by the end of the year. This does not happen by chance.

They know which donors like to give at the end of the year for business purposes, or tax purposes, or for the emotional reason of giving to “help take an organization over the top” at the end of the year.

Other nonprofits have not done their homework, and don’t know where the money they need to raise in the last quarter will come from. They may depend on yearend mailings to current, prior, and/or lapsed donors. They may purchase lists in hopes of attracting new donors. But they are wishing. Wishes do come true, but not always.

This year there is a new risk that some nonprofits may not be as successful in their yearend fundraising as they have in the past. Changes in the federal tax code have increased the standard deduction and this may decrease giving by those who in prior years itemized deductions, including gifts to nonprofits. It all depends on the donor. Not everyone gives because of tax implications. But some people do. This potential risk can serve as an impetus to go the extra mile and reach out to your donors, especially those who have a history of giving at yearend.

You still have time to “dig deep” and think about who your donors are and where the possibilities lie. Look at your current and past donors, and those individuals who have made a pledge, but have not fulfilled it. Look at who has consistently given to your organization over the years, and who attends events regularly. Personally reach out to these donors and ask for their gift. Then start planning for 2019.

Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

For help growing your fundraising – and planning for 2019 – call us at (901) 522-8727 or visit

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