Five Strategies to Set Your Nonprofit Up for Success in 2019
Congratulations! You’re a month into the new calendar year. Raking in those last year-end gifts can be tiresome, and you want to kick up your heels and relax. We get it. But don’t! The first three months of the year are crucial to driving your fundraising success throughout the year. But you can’t call on donors again for donations after they gave at year end— so, what to do?
Planning and thanking are key. We’ve assembled some ideas below to help you get started.
1. Look Back on 2018
January is the perfect time to share a personal thank you with your donors for all their support and generosity in 2018. Share the impact of their gifts – personal stories from program participants, numbers of new people served by your organization, statistics showing the impact of your organization’s work. This outreach can be done via email or a mailed letter, but would be even more impactful through a phone call or face-to-face meeting to deepen the relationship.
2. Look Forward to 2019
If you are just half-way through your fiscal year, take an inventory of outstanding renewals and plot your next steps. What will it take to get donors to recommit and how can you get there before the end of the fiscal year?
If you’re starting a new fiscal year, analyze 2018 giving patterns and create a plan for each donor. Project a gift amount and ask for specific dates for each prospect. This will set your fundraising strategy for 2019 and provide you with a road map to guide your cultivation and stewardship strategies throughout the year. Keep your plan easily accessible – save it on your personal drive, tape it to the wall or keep it in your pocket. This fundraising road map will guide you to your goals.
3. Ramp Up Your Cultivation and Stewardship Activities
It’s difficult during busy times to give your donors the attention they deserve. The beginning of the year may provide the breathing space you need to focus on cultivation and stewardship activities. Embark on a thank-you tour. Meet with your donors and thank them for their support and partnership, without asking for money. These types of stewardship touches can go along way and bring donors closer to your organization.
Consider developing and sending out communications that highlight your nonprofit’s impact over the last year. Sharing these types of communications early will put your nonprofit top of mind so donors will consider you first when giving in 2019.
4. Focus on Mid-level Donors
It’s a good time to set your mid-level donor strategy for the year. Plot out your fundraising outreach calendar. How many communications are you planning to send and what is the story you want to tell? Set your appeal schedule. Use data from last year to inform this year’s practices. When did your nonprofit receive the bulk of its gifts? Consider engaging a direct mail partner if this has proven to be a revenue-generator that fuels your organization’s growth.
5. Ask Yourself – Should We Begin a Fundraising Campaign?
We understand the allure of campaigns— a huge (hopefully!) influx of cash and pledges, dedicated donors rallying behind a big fundraising push, and a transformative number at the end that can really make a difference to your mission. BUT WAIT! Campaigns should not be entered lightly. A planning phase can save months of headaches, struggles with donors and staff burnout.
Consider starting the year with a 3-month campaign feasibility study to evaluate how your board of directors, donors and team feel about a campaign. Interview your donors yourself, or work with an independent fundraising consulting firm such as Orr Group to carry out this work for you. Ask donors if they would consider serving on a campaign committee or giving a special gift. Test the water—time invested upfront will save you effort and dollars downstream.
We hope this article has provided you with some ideas for kickstarting the fundraising year. Of course, we’re always available to brainstorm on the ways that will work best for your unique organization and culture – please give us a call!