Preparing for the Fall Giving Season
Are you ready for the fall? Amidst all of the doom and gloom in the media about the downward trend in giving, I remain optimistic. While this may sound judgmental, if giving to some nonprofits has been reduced due to poor donor relations strategies, then I say good! It is no longer acceptable to be “good” at development, we must be great! We have to separate our calling from light bulb sellers and duck races. We must be one of the causes that grow during tough times and not just survive. How? Give it all you have this fall. Fall is the main giving season in our profession. Why? Is it because everyone sends out lots of direct mail? No. It is because the compassion and generosity of donors is at its highest levels of the year. Our donor’s develop a sense of greater caring when the weather gets colder. They think of others needs during Thanksgiving. And they grow their giving spirit at Christmas. So our job as development professionals is to assist them in their generosity goals, not to judge. Take hurdles out of the way. Give them multiple ways to have a relationship with your organization. Here are a couple of ideas to prepare your development efforts for the fall:
- Plan take some time to look at your relationships, strategies, and implementation calendars. Make sure everyone has the dates of your special events on their calendars. Be ready.
- Identify your Top 100 Donors create a strategy to “touch” each one by the end of the year. This could be a lunch, breakfast, tour, note, card, phone call or email. Some work better than others. Make sure you do not do “one size fits all”
- Fire all your guns you do not want to get to January and say, “How come we did not do x, y, or z? This is the season to put your development efforts on full speed. Go the extra effort. Do NOT err on the side of caution – go for it!
- Get leadership on board make sure your board, executive staff, and key program staff all understand the importance of the fall giving season. For many it makes up 40-50% of the annual giving goals. It is important to have the entire organization focused and aware that every donor and every gift is important.
So raising funds may be tougher and tougher. But building relationships with stewards should not be tougher in my opinion. I believe people will tire of the “fund raising” spirit and look more for relationships with organizations that make a difference and connect their stewards to the front lines of the cause. Our country sees its economy as their idol. Many believe everything in life will be better when the economy is better. Who is our Source? Generosity comes from a relationship with the Owner of it all. You can remind your donors of this. Some need reassuring right now. Let us all take our messages of hope to a world that is living without hope right now. Giving through our causes changes lives – starting with the steward.
Have a GREAT fall giving season!
Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE, CSP