Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Can fiscal year end efforts be donor centric?

Anyone with more than 12 months in an annual giving career knows the pressure - the fiscal year ends in 4 weeks, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, heck 2 hours and the VP comes around asking if you have made calls, sent mail, what you are doing online etc... as though it didn't occur to you to ask folks to give. Or for that matter that you haven't spent the last 11 plus months doing exactly that.

To higher ups, fiscal year matters greatly - is about the budget process, about making sure that you have the institutional resources that you need.  Many institutions budget for the upcoming year based upon achieving goals in a way that means that if you don't reach those goals, real cuts need to be made to real programs.

So they matter to the institution.  But does that mean that they matter to your donors?  I would suggest that you have several different groups that see it radically differently.  First you have your loyal donors - these are often multiple consecutive year donors and they give because they believe in what you do/offer/are.  They need little more than a reminder that you are counting on them.  For these donors, fiscal year end is donor centric.  Ironically, the other audience that I see fiscal year end is the exact opposite - non or future donors.  They have not indicated a preference regarding what and when or why they give and as a result, a strong push to give this year and enable you to have more capability next year can actually be a highly friendly approach.

To many of your donors who are either not consistent or are lapsed, fiscal year end alone messaging is simply "all about you", and nothing about them.  They have given you clues, directions and in some cases outright messaging as to what they are interested in.  Use the fiscal year end as the opportunity to message them if it can be used to create a sense of urgency based on the existing conversation but don't try to squeeze a calendar year end donor into a fiscal year end gift because it is what you need - not only won't that work but it likely will cost you six months from now at calendar year end when that donor is looking to give because they will choose one of the countless other charities seeking the same dollars who paid attention to the donor rather than to their own needs.


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