5 January Activities to Keep your Fundraising Momentum Going

Date: January 13, 2023

It’s hard to believe that December 31st still holds the title for “Most Money Donated to Charity in One Day.”  Given the growing popularity of #GivingTuesday and the increase in the standard deduction because of The Tax Jobs and Cuts Act (TJCA) of 2017, we might be inclined to think that Americans have lost the sense of urgency to get their donations in before the end of the year.

We would be wrong.  Nearly 31% of all giving to charities happens on December 31st.  Whether your fiscal year ended at the end of the year or you’re only part way through, this may leave you wondering, “What can I do now to keep the momentum going, without burning out my donors?” 

Here are 5 Activities you can complete this month to keep your fundraising momentum going, add value to your organization, cultivate new gifts, and tee up the next big gift.

1. Board Drive

If you are small-to-medium sized nonprofit looking to expand your Board of Directors, January is an ideal time to run a Board Drive Campaign.  Using email and social media, craft a campaign asking people to give of their time and talent, rather than their pocketbook.

A January 8th article on Inc.com states that 41% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions.  Most assuredly, there are people setting resolutions to “be a better person, give back to my community,” or “get involved!” 

While only 9% of people end up achieving their goals, one of the keys to success is to “get a support system.” You, as the nonprofit, can be that support system. 

The first time we ever ran a Board Drive for a client we were uncertain what the outcome would be.  The results?  16 people expressed interest and went through the Board interview process, most of whom had never made a gift to the organization or had perhaps made a nominal gift in the past. 

7 were elected to the Board, and one ended up giving the organization’s first ever 6 figure gift and remains committed to the organization and its mission.  

Why was this so effective? People simply did not know that this organization was looking for leaders to help them achieve the next phase of their strategic plan.

Make sure your controls are in place first.  Do you have a Nominating Committee? A streamlined process for interviewing new Board candidates?  A New Board Member training/orientation?  If you’re recruiting people to your Board of Directors, you want to be sure to set them up for success and give them a positive experience with your organization.  

2. Phone Calls

Hopefully you, a staff member, board member, or volunteer has already called everyone who made a gift to your organization between November 15 and January 8th (we always like to account for the delay in mailed donations).  If not, there’s no time like the present!

Everyone knows how busy you were over the holidays and your donors actually want you to take some time off to spend with friends and family.  It’s not to late to pick up the phone and call to thank them for supporting you so generously during the holiday season. 

Leave a message or send a text if they don’t answer.  Going the extra mile tells your donor you care about them and that their gift is appreciated.  

3. Share your Impact

January is the perfect time to share the impact of what your organization will now be able to accomplish because of your donor’s amazing support last year in a year-end donation receipt.

While many nonprofits have gotten away from this with automated receipts sent to donors at the time the gift is made, remember that any opportunity to make a connection with a donor is an opportunity you should seize. 

These tax documents may seem like just one more thing to add to your never-ending to-do list, but they offer you the chance to not only showcase the work you’re able to do because of their support, but also to make collecting their tax documentation for filing easy.  

What if they neglected to print off their receipt at the time of their gift in January of last year?  What if they made multiple gifts to you?  What if some goods and services were received in exchange for some gifts, but not others? 

Summarizing this in a one-pager and including a letter of gratitude for their partnership along with a story of impact about someone who benefited from your services goes a long way in building a trust relationship between you and your donor. 

4. Sustaining Giving Campaign

Believe it or not, in January there are people seeing the results of your amazing year-end campaign and thinking, “It’s such great work.  I wish could do more.” Guess what?!  You can!

Late January through early February is an ideal time to run a sustaining (monthly) giving campaign.  Focus on smaller dollar gifts – whatever that means to your organization – and set a goal to either grow your number of existing sustaining givers by a certain amount (3-5% for established programs, 15-20% for fledgling programs) or start your sustaining giving program with a goal of adding a set number of givers. 

Sustaining givers are some of the most valuable givers on your file.  Well stewarded, sustaining giver retention rates are 60-70% vs. 20% for a one-time giver.  Not only that, but their loyalty to your organization also makes them ideal candidates to upgrade to mid-level, major, or planned giving donors over time.  

Before you run any campaign, make sure you segment your audiences (don’t send this campaign to everyone on your file – that’s how you create donor fatigue), have your giving form set up, your gift acknowledgement and process in place, and a stewardship plan in place to make sure these folks have a positive experience with your organization, feel cared for, and empowered to make a difference.

5. Make Contact

Donor fatigue is a real thing and something you most certainly want to avoid.  But remember – in the lifecycle of a donor, great stewardship will help you tee up the next big gift you’ll soon begin to cultivate.  

For your major donors, make contact.  Whether that’s through a phone call, text message, handwritten note, or email, reach out “just to tell them one more time” how much their support last year meant. Don’t know which type of contact to make?  This goes back to the “Know your Donor” rule.  How do they communicate with you?  Donors (well, people in general) typically prefer to receive communication in the same way they offer it.  

Share an impact story they haven’t heard or could have read elsewhere.  Bring your best donors in to your organization.  Give them a view other’s do not get a chance see.  Make them feel as special as they are to the success of your mission.

When you can't do it all...

In an ideal world, you would implement all 5 of these strategies to foster relationships and set your organization up for success.  In the real world, picking one that will have the greatest impact for your organization and executing on it flawlessly will set you on the path to a prosperous 2023! 

Cultivating your nonprofit growth & longevity starts with a conversation.

With the most charitable season behind us, what should nonprofit professionals be doing to keep the momentum going?
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