It’s year-end and you’ve just landed a new job – now what? How are you going to ask donors for a gift when you don’t even know them?
Or maybe you’ve had a portfolio, but it’s WAY too big, so there’s no way you can reach everyone. How do you know where to focus your time and energy?
Or perhaps you’re in the process of building a fully qualified caseload and have a caseload pool of donors you haven’t connected with yet?
If any of these scenarios resonate, you are not alone! Our team is in the process of coaching clients who are experiencing each of these right now, so we wanted to share some of our top tips with you.
1. Strategic Donor Engagement:
If you already have a Donor Engagement Plan (DEP), that’s fantastic – start there! If not, collaborate with your data team to pull a list of LYBUNTS (Last Year But Unfortunately Not This) donors. Sort them by previous year giving, focusing on the most generous contributors in November and December. If these donors have been in your portfolio for a while, leverage your strategic plan for personalized outreach – make the ask based on everything you’ve learned about them along the way. If not, prioritize connecting with them. Use permission-based asking to delve into their passions and interests. Explore potential funding gaps and offer them the chance to support a specific project. The key is to make that call and initiate a conversation with the donor, prioritizing the largest donors who give at that specific time of year, first.
2. Regain Lapsed Donors:
Don’t limit your focus to year-end donors; consider your lapsed donors as well. Review their last gift date – if it’s been a year or more, they’re considered lapsed. Next, ensure you’re looking at your largest lapsed donors first. If you can’t reach them via phone calls and/or you don’t have time to call everyone, consider reconnecting with them through an ‘echo letter.’ Remind them of their previous contributions and emphasize the impact of their support. Elevate the appeal by introducing an organizational match, encouraging them to double their impact and reignite their connection with your cause. Here is one example I really love!
3. Qualifying New Donors:
Utilize year-end giving to qualify new donors. Your donors are most receptive when you’re thanking them. Use Permission-Based Asking (PBA) during your calls. Understand their motivations, communication preferences, and share a compelling story that highlights the difference their giving has made. Request an additional two minutes at the end of your call to share an impactful story, leaving your donor with a sense of joy about their contribution. Follow up with a condensed introduction letter via mail, email, or text based on their preference.
The above strategies are effective for both calendar and fiscal year ends. Remember, it’s crucial to align with your donors’ typical month(s) of giving, review lapsed donors, and make timely asks.
While some may argue this method lacks the personal touch, never underestimate the joy giving brings to your donors. As major gift officers, your responsibility is to ask your donors, and as you grow in your role, you’ll have more opportunities for face-to-face engagement. For now, prioritize getting that letter out and making the ask – it’s not too late!
Kara Ansotegui is Director of Client Services at Veritus Group. She has over 20 years of experience in non-profit leadership serving in fundraising and marketing executive roles. Kara has been responsible for strategic program development in major gifts, mid-level, and donor relations. She has served as the CRM data management SME for numerous non-profits. Kara has an undergraduate in Business Administration from Oregon State University and an MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University.