You Have 1 Extra Week – How To Make The Most Of It

There’s an extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which is a big deal if you’re a fundraiser.

Your extra week means you have an extra week raise money during the strongest fundraising season of the year.

What Will You Do With Your One Wild, Precious Extra Week?

Just like how your fishing is more effective when the fish are running, your fundraising is more effective this time of year. It’s not that your fundraising materials are magically more effective, it’s that more donors are more likely to give gifts!

Because ‘the giving season’ is a week longer this year, you can expect to raise more money if you take advantage of your opportunity.

And this week, December 3rd through 9th, is your extra week. It may not feel like it, but it’s extra. It’s a gift. What are you going to do with it?

Here’s What To Do With Your Extra Week

Here’s a list to help you prioritize your time. These are organized roughly in order of importance:

  1. Contact any major donors who have not yet given a gift this year. This is the single most important thing, with the biggest financial impact, that you can spend time on. One gift from a major donor who missed your earlier communications can make or break your whole year-end campaign – not to mention the long-term relationship benefits.
    1. If at all possible, try to meet them in person. Next best is telephone. Next best is email.
    2. When you speak to them, be able to very quickly describe why their gift is needed before the 31st, and what their gift will do.
  2. Send another appeal letter. If most of your donors are local, you can send a letter out the week of the 11th, nonprofit postage, and still have it get in homes in time to drive donations before year-end. Make this letter a shorter version of your regular holiday letter, and mention the ‘December 31st deadline’ multiple times. In our experience, you’ll raise about 1/3 of the amount you raised with your regular holiday letter, and this is new, additional revenue!
  3. Prepare your 3 emails for the end of the year. Our Year-End Digital Fundraising Toolkit will show you how to do this well, and includes samples. Here’s the strategy; online giving sees a massive spike during the last three days of the year. During that spike, you want to remind donors that their gift is needed and their gift makes a difference. The best way to do that: have an email in their inbox each of the last 3 days of the year.
  4. Prepare your Thank You / Receipt letter for everyone who gives here at the end of the year. Do not use a generic thank you letter. You’ll build stronger relationships with your donor if the language in the letter reflects what the donor has just done. For instance, you could begin the letter by saying, “Thank you for giving such a generous gift at the end of the year! As I mentioned when I asked you, your gift is going to [insert what their gift is going to do, using the same phrasing you used in your appeals and emails].”

If you’ve already done all those things, fantastic! You’re on your way to a successful year-end fundraising season. Your donors and your organization are going to thank you for all your efforts and for the money you’ve raised.

Extra Credit

If you’ve completed everything you can, here’s how to earn “extra credit” and make sure 2018 starts off with a donor-loving, relationship-building bang:

  1. Plan your early 2018 Thank You email. We recommend an emotion-filled email, dripping with gratitude, to your donors on January 2nd (the first work day of the new year). Thank them for their gift in 2017, and for all the ways your beneficiaries were helped. No Asking, no Reporting, just Thanking.
    1. Ideally, this email would only go to donors who made a gift in 2017, not your whole email list.
  2. Get started on your donor newsletter. This is where you Report to your donors on what their last gift accomplished. Because so many of your donors will have given in November and December, it’s really powerful for them to receive a newsletter in January or February that tells them what their gift accomplished. Remember, most organizations don’t tell their donors what their gift accomplished. Getting good at “Reporting” to your donors is one of the best ways a small nonprofit can stand out, build loyal donors, and raise more money.

Good luck, use your extra week well, and visit our store if you need any samples to help you out!


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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