3 Reasons Why Your Year-End Fundraising Will Fail

Most charities raise more money during the last quarter of the calendar year than any other quarter. However, your year-end fundraising effort will fail to reach its potential unless you avoid the following three mistakes:

1. Failure to Tell Supporters What Their Previous Donations Have Achieved

Donors have choices about where they can give their money. Not surprisingly, they want to know that their giving is having a positive impact. If it’s not, or if they don’t know whether it is, they’ll take their support elsewhere. Chances are that your charity’s mission is not entirely unique. In other words, donors can fulfill their philanthropic aspirations by giving to another organization.

A few years ago, the Charities Aid Foundation conducted a survey that found that 68 percent of respondents said that they feel it is important for them to have evidence about how a charity is having an impact. Crying Man by Tom Pumford via UnsplashUnfortunately, many donors still complain that the only time they hear from charities is when they want money. Make sure your charity doesn’t make that mistake.

Make sure supporters and potential supporters know how your nonprofit organization is putting donations to work. Let them know what supporters are achieving. Share impact stories in your organization’s print and electronic newsletters, annual reports, special events, website, and special gratitude mailings.

You should even highlight donor impact in your appeals. Consider this: I tested a straightforward appeal against an appeal that highlighted donor impact before asking for a gift. The impact appeal generated 68 percent more revenue! So, make sure people know that their contribution will make a difference by showing them the positive effect past donations have had and by telling them how their donation will be put to work.

 2. Failure to Ask for Planned Gifts

As the end of the year approaches, your organization is facing fierce competition for an individual’s checkbook. Over the next few months, people will be deluged with charitable-giving requests. Furthermore, people will be spending large sums on holiday gift giving, entertaining, and vacationing.

However, a donor’s checkbook is just one potential resource. Many donors can donate appreciated stock, contribute from a Donor-Advised Fund, and give from their IRA. Virtually anyone can include your charity in their Will or designate your charity as a beneficiary.

Make sure you don’t assume that supporters automatically know all of the various ways they can give. Instead, make sure they know by promoting such giving opportunities. Tell stories of other donors who have given in those ways, and not just the mega-donors. Ask prospective donors to consider such gifts. And make it easy for your donors to engage in planned giving. Provide them with clear instructions on your website and in appeals that highlight a given planned gift opportunity.

To read what the experts, including myself, say about planned giving, checkout Jeff Jowdy’s article in Nonprofit Pro magazine.

3. Failure to Recognize that “Year-End” is NOT a Case for Support

Neither Giving Tuesday nor December 31 is a case for support. They are merely points on a calendar.

If you want people to give, and give generously, you need a solid reason for them to do so. Tell folks what problem needs to be solved and how their gift will help address the problem. Avoid reciting statistics (i.e., we’re trying to help 5,000 homeless people in our community.). Instead, tell meaningful stories (i.e., Mary is living on the street with her mother. Mary is only 5-years-old.).

As 2019 nears a close, you need to also realize that the idea of “year-end giving” is not as meaningful to donors as it once was. As a result of the increased standard deduction that is part of the current tax code, only about 10 percent of taxpayers will itemize. In other words, only 10 percent of taxpayers will be in a possible position to take a charitable gift deduction.

Yes, there is a spirit of giving around the holidays. Yes, some folks receive nice year-end bonuses from their employer. However, for 90 percent of taxpayers, there really isn’t much of a tax reason for giving to charities as the year closes (unless they donate appreciated stock or contribute from an IRA). Furthermore, people will receive more charity appeals at year-end than any other time of year.

So, you should consider testing appeals at other times of the year. For example, I did tests for a number of charities who found that a January/February appeal was more successful than one in November/December. That might be the case for your nonprofit, too. Or, it might not. You’ll need to test it to know for certain.

There are also other ways you can think differently about gift timing. For example, you could seek a quarterly pledge or invite donors to participate in a monthly giving program. Such commitments will allow donors to give more for the year than they might be able to do with one check in November.

To maximize your fundraising results, tell supporters the impact their giving has had and will have. Promote planned gifts. Prepare an inspiring case for support. Finally, recognize that other times of the year might present you with better opportunities for support, especially increased support.

You might find these seven past posts helpful:

What are you doing to maximize year-end giving?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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