The last days of December have become a time when nonprofits receive the most gifts from individuals and families.
Needless to say, this year the traditional yearend fundraising cycle has been severely interrupted, and the gap between funding needs and cash-on-hand is wider than what we want to acknowledge. This makes it all the more critical for your staff, board members, and volunteers to become “one-on-one” solicitors.
We recommend engaging as many people as you can to help ensure that those who supported your organization in the past will do so again this year. Not everyone will be able to give, even though they may want to. Since you don’t know who can give and who can’t, we recommend making sure that two groups of donors are personally contacted: everyone who made a major gift to your nonprofit last year; and everyone who has been a consistent giver over the years. Hints: you define what a “major gift” is. For a small organization it could be $500; for a university or hospital it could be $25,000 or much more. A consistent donor is someone who has given every year for the past three years, or maybe for 15 of the past 25 years.
Here’s the plan: Go through your donor list and create three lists: one is a list with donors for whom you have phone numbers; the other is a list of those you have email addresses for; the third is those you only have a mailing address for.
With your lists in hand, take the next three steps. First, divide your donor list amongst your team, matching team members with donors they may know. Second, create a short script that can be used for phone calls, and a short sample message that can be used as a base from which to write a personal email or letter. Be specific about your needs; communicate the organization’s successes and challenges. Third, meet with your team members via Zoom or a conference call and make your request. You want each member of your team to personally ask those on their list to make a gift to your nonprofit. That’s it.
You want to keep it simple and keep it kind. That means understanding that not everyone who gave last year can give this year. And, it means knowing that many still can give – and some will give more than they have given before. But you have to ask. With a team comprised of board members, staff, and volunteers your nonprofit can reach a large number of people.
Finally, you may be one of a few organizations that finds itself the beneficiary of increased giving from foundations related to COVID-19 response and increased investments in Black-led organizations. You may think you don’t need to reach out to individuals, because their gifts are not as large as a grant. Don’t be lulled: you always want to ask, thank, and ask again. Individuals are the ones who – over time – give the most, become board members, and include your nonprofit in their will.
[Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com. ]