Thursday, March 14, 2013

Warming up

Much the same as fundraising warms up as it cools off in the summer, fundraising efforts warm up with the spring.  We have set the clocks ahead and all recovered from the only 47 hour weekend of the year.  With the warming of the weather and the loosening of donors pockets comes the awareness that we are most of the way through the typical higher ed institution's year.

That means that not only are we clear of Christmas and the lull of January but are starting to see the finish line for this year's effort off in the every shortening distance.  With that comes the need to have planned for the end of the fiscal year.  I will cover specifics in a future post, today I want to focus upon audience.  I spoke at the Northeast Annual Giving Conference ( earlier this week and found that many institutions struggle with fiscal year end efforts.  In teasing out more information from many of them, I saw a common trend; they think fiscal year end matters to donors.

The reality is that it does matter to a small number of your donors and it matters a great deal to you.  Unfortunately that does not mean that it matters to most of your constituents.  The reality is that the calendar year matters to some of your donors, the fiscal year matters to a smaller number (many because they are tremendously loyal to you and support you then because that is when they make their tax gifts as well because of that loyalty.)

So limit your fiscal year end messaging to those who care and those for whom you are able to create a case that matters.  Create a scholarship goal - tie it to the incoming fall class - we need your support by the end of the fiscal year to ensure that we have the resources to attract and retain the best students available next fall.  Consistently lapsing and non donors don't care about those incentives, so don't waste your money on them - hit your loyal, motivatable donors 2 or 3 times between now and the end of your fiscal year instead.  Your returns and those students in the fall will thank you.