There’s a lot of anxiety in the non-profit sector about 4th quarter fundraising revenue. Richard and I are seeing article after article from leaders who are worried about the unknown of how donors are going to give (or not) in what is traditionally the time when most non-profits realize the majority of their revenue.
I understand the anxiety, but we don’t believe you have to succumb to it.
I say that because, right now, our Veritus client experience leaders are working with over 200 major gift officers all over the country, from small, medium and large organizations – and they all have a plan for what they’re going to do from October 1 through December 31.
This means that every mid, major and planned giving officer knows exactly what they’re going to do with each of the donors in their portfolio through the end of the year. They know exactly whom they’ll solicit, whose giving is behind revenue projections and why, and they know which donors they’re going to ask for a second gift!
Can you say the same?
After reviewing our internal quarterly results report recently, I can tell you that they’ve been kicking it with their donors through the first half of the year. Major gift revenue and value retention rates are exceeding expectations, while in the middle of a pandemic!
Why? Because everyone had a plan for each donor in their portfolio and, like all good plans, when the pandemic hit they adjusted quickly, and they didn’t skip a beat with their donors.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I’m in trouble, I don’t have a plan for my donors between October 1 and December 31. I’m not even sure where they are compared to my revenue goals, and if I’m on track or not.”
Richard and I get it. In fact, most major gift officers don’t have a real strategic plan for every one of the donors in their portfolio, with revenue goals that are attached to them. You aren’t alone.
The good news is that you DO have time to turn that around, develop relationships with your donors and bring in much-needed net revenue for all the good programs and projects your organization creates.
Here’s what you can do right now that will help build those relationships, get back on track and lower your anxiety about what’s going to happen with giving this fall:

  1. Review total portfolio revenue to date vs expected revenue goal vs last year – if you don’t have a goal attached to each donor, do it now through December 31.
  2. Figure out what donors may be behind goal and why, then create an October-December strategy for engaging and soliciting them.
  3. Set up meetings now with donors you expected to solicit in the 4th quarter, either in-person by social distancing or through digital means like Zoom, email, text or phone calls.
  4. Find donors in your portfolio who have already made their revenue goal who, if you found a compelling offer they were passionate about, you could ask for another gift before the end of the year.
  5. In your portfolio right now are 2-3 donors who could make a substantial, transformational gift, if you brought them an offer that matched their passions and interests. Identify those donors, then make a compelling case and solicit them.
  6. In early December, consider sending a personal letter to some of your B- and C-tiered donors asking for a year end gift if you haven’t been able to connect personally.

What gives many mid, major and planned giving officers so much anxiety at year end is that they didn’t have a plan and they don’t know where they are with their donors. If you follow those six steps above, even if you didn’t have a plan at the beginning of the year for everyone in your portfolio, you will for the last quarter of the year!
And, if you work your plan and do what you said you were going to do… well, that’s all you can do. It’s now left up to the donor.
Richard and I don’t want you stressed out during the last quarter of the year (more than you already are in 2020). A solid plan will free you up to be creative and help you know exactly what you should do with your donors. You will be so much better off.
PS — Make sure you download our free White Paper on creating plans for every donor!