In the nonprofit world, end-of-year giving is one of the most reliable sources of funding. Between GivingTuesday and December 31st—also known as the last chance for donors to make tax-deductible gifts in a given tax year—31% of giving happens in the last few weeks of the year and 12% in the last three days. To take full advantage of this important giving season, it’s vital to plan ahead.
It’s never too early to start, but if you haven’t started yet, now is the time. It’s a big job with a big return, and it’s worth doing right. Being prepared means knowing ahead of time what’s going to happen and when, and budgeting time as well as staff and volunteer resources, in a way that makes sense.
This brings us to your timeline. Creating a timeline helps you and everyone on your team understand what’s expected and when, and if you’re doing it right, how long each task should take. One way to plan your timeline is to break it up into early and later tasks, like this:
There’s a lot to do and only a couple of months to get it done. Start by creating a schedule that allows you to focus on the first things first, including recruiting volunteers, making sure your data and systems are up-to-date and ready to track your progress and success, fine-tuning donor segmentation, identifying the stories you’ll tell to engage donors, and setting dates for all your EOY communications. This is also a great time to think about ways to grow your donor list in preparation for the big giving season.
Next up on your timeline should be tasks like designing your GivingTuesday campaign, training volunteers, drafting communications, reaching out to big donors to request matching gifts, and updating your website and social media presences with the latest resources and information your donors will need to donate and set up peer-to-peer fundraising pages.
Now it’s time to nail down the final details. Start getting those communications and social media posts out reminding your donors of the important work you do and the people you help through that work. Make sure your volunteers are on track and have everything they need.
As the hour nears to launch your EOY fundraising campaign, plan to reach out to donors often. Experts agree that donors give because they believe that giving to us makes a real difference. Take every opportunity in these final weeks to show them how their gifts are changing lives, to thank them for their previous support, to ask them to reach out to friends, and to remind them that when they’re considering their EOY giving, you’re ready and willing to put their tax-deductible donation to work.
When you plan ahead and budget enough time and resources for each task, your End-Of-Year giving campaign has a much better chance of meeting or surpassing your fundraising goals. So take the time to create a schedule—a timeline—that lays everything out in detail. You won’t be sorry.