Don’t Let Your DAF Donors Fall through the Cracks of Your Thanking Process!

Crack.

Could you imagine a situation where one of your most dedicated and generous donors gives your organization a gift… and you never acknowledge or thank them?

That would never happen, right?

But it’s happening accidentally more and more often…

More and more donors are giving gifts through Donor Advised Funds (DAFs).  Because the gift is often labeled as from “Fidelity Charitable” or “Network for Good” (or something similar), the donor who initiated the gift mistakenly goes un-acknowledged and un-thanked.

You might remember that a few years ago, when Twitter was still Twitter, there was an account called The Whiny Donor.

Whiny was a gift to the nonprofit world because she Tweeted what other donors were thinking but not saying.

And Whiny had some experience with DAF giving…

Yikes!

Another gem…

Whiny has since stopped Tweeting, but what she experienced as a DAF donor is still too common.

And here’s the thing… if this is happening to your donors, most of them won’t complain. They’ll simply stop giving because they start to feel like their giving doesn’t matter.

That’s why it’s so important to thank and steward your DAF donors.

As you’re looking at year-end reports, make note of any gifts that came from a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) like Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, Vanguard Charitable, Network for Good, or any community foundation. Double-check to make sure the donor who initiated the gift was thanked.

If you’re unsure whether a DAF donor has been thanked, reach out with a phone call, a handwritten note, a personal email thanking them for their kind and generous gift — I’m sure you would put a smile on your donor’s face.

Donors who give through DAFs are some of your org’s most faithful donors. You can stand out from the crowd by doing an excellent job of thanking and stewarding them when they give through their DAF.

Almost Done, My Friends

Almost there.

This is just a note of encouragement that you’re almost done with year-end fundraising. 

All the sweat, and stress, and extra hours… they are almost over.

And they were worth it.

You created fundraising that inspired and encouraged your donors to give gifts.  They did so joyfully.  Your beneficiaries will be helped, your donors will feel more connected.

You didn’t manipulate anybody, you didn’t twist anybody’s arm.

Every gift that came in was an act of generosity.  Some of them were acts of sacrifice.

And they all happened because you created and sent out your fundraising.

Well done, and good luck the next couple of weeks!

What Small-Shop Fundraisers Should Do at Year-End

What Small-Shop Fundraisers Should Do at Year-End

You Don’t Have Time to Do Everything

Those silly consultants. They give you a list of fifty-four things to do, but you only have time to do four of them.

I get it. (And I am guilty of it at times.)

But if you only have time to do four things … do you know which four are the most important?

My List for Small-Shop Fundraisers

If I were doing the fundraising for a small organization with limited resources (and time!) here’s what I’d do, and the order I’d do them in:

  1. Manage your major donors. Don’t just hope that they give a gift before the end of the year, manage them toward doing it! Know who your top donors are. Be in touch with them. Know exactly who hasn’t given a gift yet this year. Ask them to give a gift to help your beneficiaries or your cause (not to give a gift to your organization). Tell them their gift is needed now, and tell them their gift will make a difference.
  2. Write and send your year-end letter. Make sure you send out a great year-end letter that powerfully asks donors to give a special gift before the end of the year.
  3. Write and prep your year-end emails. Be sure to have at least three emails prepped for the last three days of the year. Remember that they can be very similar; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.
  4. Update your website to ask for a year-end gift. It’s been true of every organization I’ve ever worked with: a LOT of people will go to your website in December with the express purpose of making a gift. If the first thing they see on your home page is a clear call-to-action and a large button, you will raise more money than you expect.

That’s it! If you can only do four things, do those four.

Make sure you do a great job on each of those before doing anything else.

If you can only do three things, do the top three.

And so on.

Just remember that year-end is the easiest time of the year to raise more money than you expect. And your donors are wonderful but busy people! So communicate to them as much as you can. You’ll love how much money you raise!

What Small-Shop Fundraisers Should Do at Year-End

What Small-Shop Fundraisers Should Do at Year-End

You Don’t Have Time to Do Everything

Those silly consultants. They give you a list of fifty-four things to do, but you only have time to do four of them.

I get it. (And I am guilty of it at times.)

But if you only have time to do four things … do you know which four are the most important?

My List for Small-Shop Fundraisers

If I were doing the fundraising for a small organization with limited resources (and time!) here’s what I’d do, and the order I’d do them in:

  1. Manage your major donors. Don’t just hope that they give a gift before the end of the year, manage them toward doing it! Know who your top donors are. Be in touch with them. Know exactly who hasn’t given a gift yet this year. Ask them to give a gift to help your beneficiaries or your cause (not to give a gift to your organization). Tell them their gift is needed now, and tell them their gift will make a difference.
  2. Write and send your year-end letter. Make sure you send out a great year-end letter that powerfully asks donors to give a special gift before the end of the year.
  3. Write and prep your year-end emails. Be sure to have at least three emails prepped for the last three days of the year. Remember that they can be very similar; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.
  4. Update your website to ask for a year-end gift. It’s been true of every organization I’ve ever worked with: a LOT of people will go to your website in December with the express purpose of making a gift. If the first thing they see on your home page is a clear call-to-action and a large button, you will raise more money than you expect.

That’s it! If you can only do four things, do those four.

Make sure you do a great job on each of those before doing anything else.

If you can only do three things, do the top three.

And so on.

Just remember that year-end is the easiest time of the year to raise more money than you expect. And your donors are wonderful but busy people! So communicate to them as much as you can. You’ll love how much money you raise!

Resource for You

Need help with your year-end letter or emails? We’re having a sale on the year-end fundraising training over at Work Less Raise More. You can have your year-end fundraising letter and emails done in less than a day. Check it out to see if it’s a good fit for you and your organization!

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!