A couple of years ago we were part of a fundraising disaster for one of our clients:
- Their Thanksgiving appeal letter raised only $31,000. It had raised $47,000 the previous year.
- Then their Christmas letter raised just $17,000. It had raised $41,000 the previous year.
The reason why they raised so much less was really simple: both letters mailed late. Really late.
Through an unholy combination of a new working relationship, a project management snafu and unanswered emails, the Thanksgiving letter mailed 6 days before Thanksgiving. The Christmas letter mailed just 4 days before Christmas.
The effect on fundraising was devastating. (The effect on our relationship with the organization was also devastating. But I’m happy to say that they are still a client today; everyone fails sooner or later, but it’s often how you respond after failure that builds or breaks relationships.)
Why am I telling you this? Because the whole incident reminded me of a core principle for successful fundraising during the last few weeks of the year:
— Over communicate and don’t be late —
Your donors are so busy. And they support so many worthy causes. They love giving to you, but your chances of getting a year-end gift plummet if you don’t communicate with them often enough during the last few weeks of the year.
All your work — all year long — comes to fruition during the last few weeks of the year. Make sure you have a plan that gets your year-end Ask in front of your donors in time (and often enough) — and a production schedule to make sure you aren’t late and miss important days during the most important time of the year!
P.S. – Year-end fundraising is the easiest time to raise more money than you expect. We’re about to launch a set of products expressly created to help you raise more money in November and December. Ever wanted samples of really successful year-end letters and online fundraising? Or a calendar that tells you exactly when to send your letters, your emails, and update your website at year-end? Watch this space in the next couple of weeks!