The calendar has turned to October, the last and remaining quarter of the year. If we thought we had time to work on a Calendar Year-End appeal, that time is upon us.
Many groups still send out one direct mail appeal letter sometime in December.
However, this approach does not maximize the possibility of the Giving Season. Sending one direct mail appeal letter in December is too few and too late. This approach does not allow for adequate mailing time nor for your nonprofit organization to conduct appropriate follow-ups. I always say that the magic is in the “follow-up.”
There is also one other area that often gets overlooked, and that is what I call the “Warm-Up.”
Just like you can’t ask someone to marry you on the first date (or maybe you can!!!!), you cannot go directly from not speaking to someone to asking them to contribute. In individual giving or major gifts, we call this stage cultivation.
Call it what you may, “Warm Up,” cultivation, pre-mailing, etc., you must spend the month of October preparing your donors for the eventual solicitation that will come in early to mid-November.
Here is what I recommend for “Warming Up” your list:
- Warm Up emails cannot wait. They need to be done almost immediately. You cannot wait until November until you undertake this task.
- Obtain some stories of impact.
- Craft a series of emails that will go out to your mailing list.
- Consider the segments of your mailing list that need to be “Warmed Up. Segments that you may want to consider “non-donors” or “cold-lapsed” donors who perhaps given in three or more years. You may also want to send these updates to your current active donors if you have not communicated with them in the second or third quarters and your “warm-lapsed” donors.
- The message of these “Warm Up” emails is one of appreciation and gratitude for past support. They should also remind donors of the impact that they have already made.
- Gear these emails to set the stage for even more work that still needs to be done and share unfinished stories of need that will allow the reader an even more significant impact.
- Also, consider a multi-channel approach to your “Warm-Ups,” including text messaging, social posts, etc.
- I recommend sending at least two “Warm Up” emails in October. Of course, if you can fit more in, and your audience segments will be receptive, then add more.
- And, don’t forget Thanksgiving in November (in the USA) and Hanukkah. While these are later in the Calendar Year-End cycle, they both serve as crucial moments of gratitude. You can use these holidays to focus on thanking your donors and reminding them again of your appreciation and the impact that they have had.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is simply mailing out a direct mail solicitation without sending out any pre-emails before. We make the same mistake when we don’t cultivate an individual donor or a major donor before asking, and we go straight to the solicitation. It rarely turns out as successful as we had hoped. The donor is not ready or committed enough to make a gift.
We know that the number one reason why donors don’t give again is that they do not feel as if their gifts to your organization did not make a difference. So, help them understand their impact and the difference they have made to others BEFORE you send out that direct mail solicitation asks.
Development Consulting Solutions has a team of experts who can meet your needs by serving as your grant reviewer, grants researcher, proposal template developer, and ongoing grant writer.
Get Your Ultimate Calendar Year-End Checklist Needed For Your Next Appeal
Savvy nonprofit professionals know that as the end of the year winds down, donations go up — way up.
Raising spirits while lowering taxes, year-end giving inspires donors to give to your campaign — more than a quarter of nonprofits raise close to half their annual funds in year-end campaigns, a little over 10 percent of that occurring in just the last three days of the year.
With our Ultimate Year-End Fundraising Checklist, you’ll be well on your way to a Happy New Year with a boost in your bottom-line worth breaking out the bubbly for.
For a free, 30-minute consultation or to learn more about our “Survive and Thrive” professional coaching services, visit us at www.developmentconsultingsolutions.com/coaching or book your fundraising coaching session at http://calendly.com/developmentconsultingsolutions/30min.
Join my new nonprofit community who are surviving and thriving! Click HERE to join my private Facebook group: Nonprofit Survive and Thrive Mastermind and receive support and inspiration to drive your results.