Each year, I urge my clients to begin planning their Calendar Year-End Campaigns around this time of year.
This year is no different. But, wait, yes it is.
In any ordinary “fourth” year, we face election fundraising, but this “fourth” year, we face an election process quite different from past years, a pandemic that is on the verge of being out of control, racial injustice, and social and societal unrest.
Not your ordinary year. But yet you still need to plan.
I don’t have a crystal ball, and if I did, this would not be the year that I would trust it.
However, I will step out on a limb and make some recommendations that may help you to think critically about your upcoming campaign.
- Have a plan. And then make another plan. Then plan again. One thing for sure is that this is the year of multiple “back up” plans. Pivoting on a dime. Being agile and flexible, but yet strategic. Develop a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C taking into consideration all variables, elements, and possible scenarios.
- Make this plan realistic. What we do know is that giving has dropped. The pandemic uncertainty and spike in numbers have caused more economic consternation. Once opened, businesses are finding themselves shuttered and locked down devoid of activity. The unemployment rate, yet again, took another leap. We are in a recession. Compound that with election year-giving, which for non-political donors tends to decrease slightly overall, about 2%.
- Be sure to plan out the timing of your campaign. October is traditionally the month of election year-debates. The first week of November has historically been consumed by election coverage, mailouts, phone calls, and emails. Don’t schedule your campaign mailings to arrive in the few weeks before election day and avoid most events and mail in the days leading up to the election. I would also consider avoiding the week after the election because of any political turmoil that may result from what promises to be a tumultuous political year.
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- If you are a charity focused on the work of the day, including those tied to political causes and debatable issues, this may be the time to fundraise! Use these debates as an opportunity to highlight your mission and your work. Remember “Rage Giving” after the last election. Think about “Pandemic Giving” after COVID-19 first arrived.
- For those charities in politically and socially related causes, consider donor acquisition through digital and other methods. Giving to political and social related causes tied to elections and movements tends to increase as a result of the spotlight being placed on issues. Become more aware of the main “hot button” debate items.
- Consider promoting recurring giving. During and after elections, there can be the “election effect,” which drives an “unprecedented increase” in recurring donations.
- Consider spending the month of October stewarding your donors, and reporting back on the impact. It will be challenging to get past the noise of the elections. In this highly contentious year, donors may need to feel close to some people who care.
- And then be ready to “pivot” as needed during and after these times. You may need a plan D or even E. So, remain flexible and fluid based on how things are trending. The last thing you want is to miss an opportunity to ramp up your efforts or miss the cues that tell you to hold off for a bit.
While I cannot say for sure what the fall will bring us. Things seem to be changing from day-to-day. The one thing that you can be assured of is that Calendar Year-End remains the most philanthropic time of the year. And, given that, you must continue to move ahead in creating a Plan (or Plans) that will allow you to meet your goals.
The above tips will help you think critically about what your plan should include and how you should think about crafting your resulting strategy.
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