Fundraising is a Pie-Eating Contest

Pie eating.

It’s the best line I’ve ever heard about fundraising:

Fundraising is a pie-eating contest and the prize for the winner is… more pie!

Feels true, doesn’t it? You have a great fundraising year, and the result is that you’re asked to raise 7% more the next year.

It’s a great, crazy job we have.

My hope for you is that you ate a lot of pie this year, and you get a few days off to enjoy it.

Enjoy your holidays… more pie awaits!

Major Donor Focus: Getting the Gift before Dec. 31

Phone call.

I know you’ve worked feverishly to get to this point. It’s almost the end of the calendar year.

Thankfully, there’s still time to raise a significant amount of money from your Major Donors.

Here are two simple things that you can do today to give yourself the best chance to secure significant year-end gifts from major donors.

  1. Identify your Major Donors who haven’t given in the last 90 days. Their last gift may have been in May, June, July, or even August. These are the people who are most likely to send you another gift as the year comes to a close. But only if you give each Major Donor a compelling reason to do so.
  2. Present a compelling offer. When you ask each Major Donor for their year-end gift, your offer must be compelling. In your ask, stress the urgency and the relevancy to the donor. It might be a funding need or financial shortfall. Perhaps the pandemic has added some unexpected expenses to your budget. Or a large grant has fallen through. You might even have an initiative for 2021 that needs seed money to grow. Whatever your offer is, present each Major Donor with a compelling reason to give before December 31.

Once you’ve identified the Majors that didn’t made a gift in the last 90 days, and you have a compelling offer to present, it’s your time to shine.

Pick up the phone, send some emails, schedule a Zoom meeting – leverage all methods of communication. But do it with urgency, because there’s still time – and your Majors haven’t run out of money!

MAJOR DONOR FOCUS: Getting the Gift before Dec. 31

Phone call

I know you’ve worked feverishly to get to this point.  It’s almost the end of the calendar year.  But your work isn’t done.

There’s still time to raise a significant amount of money from your Major Donors. 

Here are two simple things that you can do today, to give yourself the best chance to secure that year-end gift.

  1. Identify any Major Donor who hasn’t given in the last 90 days.  Their last gift may have been in May, June, July, or even August.  These are the people that are most likely to send you another gift as the year comes to a close.  But only if you give each Major Donor a compelling reason to do so. 

  2. Present a compelling offer.  When you ask each Major Donor for their year-end gift, your offer must be compelling.  Ensure it’s urgent, relevant, and needed now.  It might be a funding need or financial shortfall.  Perhaps COVID has added some unexpected expenses to your budget.  Or, a large grant has fallen through. You might even have an initiative for 2021 that needs seed money to grow.  Whatever your offer is, present each Major Donor with a compelling reason to give before December 31.

Once you’ve identified the Majors that didn’t made a gift in the last 90 days, and you have a compelling offer to present, it’s your time to shine.

Pick up the phone, send some emails, schedule a Zoom meeting – leverage all methods of communication.  But do it with urgency, because as we mentioned in this previous blog post, there’s still time, and your Majors haven’t run out of money. 

MAJOR DONOR FOCUS: Better Manage your Majors in the New Year

Hi I'm a Donor

It’s been a challenge for many organizations to secure Major Donor gifts this holiday season.  And while it’s not over just yet, I want to begin to look forward and suggest how you can manage your Major Donors when the new year arrives.

To unpack this further, let’s put our Majors into two simple buckets – those who gave a gift in November or December, and those who didn’t.

Majors Who Gave a Gift

Those that gave a gift in November or December should be treated differently than major donors who held onto their gift.

First and foremost, we want to genuinely thank Majors who made a gift.

Regardless of the amount, The Better Fundraising Company has often talked about the benefit of following a busy holiday and year-end with a month of gratitude.  We call it Thankuary

Thanking your donors, Majors especially, is a great way to help secure future gifts.  So, now is the perfect time to start preparing thank-you notes, cards, emails, and letters to ensure that your most generous donors feel your love and gratitude.

If you’d like to see how to apply Thankuary at your organization, you can download a free cheat sheet, here.

Majors Who Didn’t Give a Gift

There are a variety of reasons why your Majors may not be making a gift in November or December.  Yet whether it’s uncertainty around the economy or the effects of the pandemic, there are a few things you can do in January to help secure a major gift.

Firstly, be ready to present your Majors with a good offer.  It might be an urgent cold-weather need, an opportunity to provide a match, or even a vision for 2021 they can fund or support.  But whatever the offer is, make sure it’s relevant to the donor and the season.

Secondly, start to secure your meetings or Zoom calls now.  Get appointments on the calendar for January.   And when you have those appointments, be bold in your asking, and give your Majors a problem that only they can solve.

To land the plane, if your Majors made a gift in November or December, make sure to thank them well.  But if you’re still waiting for that gift, don’t despair.  Instead, prepare your offer, be patient, and get ready to deliver it early in the new year.

More Good Reasons to Give Now = More Donations

Give Now.

I’m calling this a “quick tip.”

But in truth it’s a massive, foundational idea for fundraising success:

The more good reasons you can give your donor to give a gift TODAY, the more likely she is to give a gift.

I’ve included a list of “good reasons” below.

But in a nutshell:

“Your help is needed today and here’s why”

Will raise more than…

“Our programs are making a difference – please give to help continue this good work.”

I know it might feel weird. But it works.

And remember, I’m talking about direct response fundraising here. That’s your letters, your newsletters, your emails. I’m not talking about grant proposals or conversations with Foundations. This idea can be helpful in those contexts, too, but it’s not as necessary for success.

Good Reasons to Give Now

Here’s a list of “reasons” that are proven to increase the chances that your donor will respond to your direct response fundraising:

  • Any “multiplier” (like a matching grant)
  • Any beneficiary that faces a need right now (this can be starting to be helped by your organization, or the next step in their process with you)
  • A deadline
  • A budget shortfall
  • Any acute need like “14 new people will enter our shelter this month” or “There are 35 people on our waiting list”
    It’s a learned behavior to begin to focus your fundraising on “reasons to give a gift today” instead of focusing your fundraising on your organization, your programs, your successes, etc.

To help you make the transition to this new way of thinking, here’s some evidence that this works from last week’s GivingTuesday.

I’ve been helping an organization add “reasons to give today” to all their fundraising. Here’s the report I received for how GivingTuesday went: “The team and I have really been trying to focus on the reasons to give NOW. Wonder where I learned that? We smashed through the goal, so I’m thrilled!”

For your next piece of fundraising – maybe your year-end emails?! – be sure to include reasons to give today. You’ll raise more money!

Why does Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat work?

Ask Thank Report Repeat.

I remember receiving an email from a woman I met at a conference where I spoke. She ended her email to me with this comment:

“Because of your knowledge, I’ve been kickin’ a** in fundraising, and it will only get better as we make more money, add more staff, and implement more of your plan!”

Reading this made me ask myself, “Why does Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat work so well?”

Here are just some of the reasons:

  1. Fundraising is not a talent issue – it’s a knowledge issue. Almost anyone can learn the fundraising fundamentals I teach. The key is that they must have the willingness to learn.
  2. Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat puts the donor at the center of the fundraising conversation. The system honors the donor and their stewardship decisions, and it gives them the credit for making the world a better place because of their donation.
  3. You’ll communicate more often to your donors when using Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat. The system requires you to Ask with clarity, Thank promptly, and Report back emotionally. Doing these things means you’ll communicate to your donors more often, which is an excellent thing for most nonprofits.

As you run fast into the year ahead, I encourage you to consider learning more about Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat. Embracing it will help you leverage the fundraising power behind this simple, donor-centered communication rhythm.

Want to know more? Get Jim’s recorded webinar and start learning how you can raise more money and steward important donor relationships during this crucial fundraising season.

To help you with your major donor fundraising this year-end, we’re running a series of Jim Shapiro’s most helpful posts.

We hope it provides you with some tips and tactics that skyrocket your major donor revenue during this important fundraising season.

EASY year-end emails that raise a ton of money

Year-end emails video still

Last year I came up with a way to make it easier than ever to raise more money with your year-end emails.

It’s a super-easy template you can follow. Your emails will take less time to create AND you’ll raise more money!

easy year end emails video still

And I know it’s July at the moment – but we focus a ton on year-end fundraising around here.

(By the way, all that focus is paying off; last year every one of our clients raised more money at year-end than the year before. That’s a great deal higher than the national average.)

We’ve noticed that the most successful fundraising organizations start creating their year-end fundraising earlier than they need to. They know things will get busy in November and December, and they know their year-end fundraising pieces are the most important pieces they send all year.

So they start early – and you can too. And watch this 7-minute video (and bookmark it!) to save yourself a bunch of time this year-end!