Sunday, September 23, 2012

fundraising season

As the calendar turned from summer to fall yesterday, matching the life cycle of the start of the academic year for school aged kids through graduate students.  With this change is the annual push to increase gifts and donors for many nonprofits as we begin the four most profitable months of the year, September through December.

While a substantial portion of our donors no matter the cause or particular charity will come in at this time of year, we also tend to overlook a significant source of potential giving now - second asks to current year donors.  I define current year in this case to be the donorcentric calendar year, not the fiscal year that we consider sacred but really only has internal meaning for the vast majority of our communities.

I suggest two different types of second asks:

Donors during the calendar year, letting them know about your fiscal year if applicable but emphasizing that a second (or more) gift this calendar year will increase not only the impact that you can have but that it may be beneficial for their own taxes.  In doing this, make sure you tell them why their support earlier this year mattered.  Be direct - tell them what you want and why and summarize the support they have already provided in 2012 so they can see if it makes sense for them to take you up on your request.

The second is donors this fiscal and calendar year who have either been generous or from whom you have greater expectations.  Include them in all of your appeals regardless of giving but without an ask - give them a very soft sell version of the communications and provide them with only a url to the giving pages in an obvious but not pushy location on the pieces.  Keep them in the loop on what is going on (bear in mind that much of the time, our best communication efforts go into our solicitations) while making a very clear and direct way for them to give without putting them into the position of needing to turn you down.

These two simple steps will increase your gift revenue at a very low cost, while building on the engagement with your most connected donors.