It's almost the end of the year!It’s early November already! Hard to believe, isn’t it? I know you are in the thick of it, which is why now is the time to make sure you have your December strategy ready to go. All across the country, Veritus client managers are preparing their major gift fundraisers by nailing down their “December Strategy” so that each fundraiser has a clear path toward the end of the calendar year.
If you haven’t already guessed, we’re big planners at Veritus because we know it leads not only to clear thinking and freedom, but also to incredible success. Here are some things to consider for the last month of the year:

  1. Face-to-Face Meetings — Make sure all face-to-face meetings are wrapped up by the second week of December (unless a donor requests to meet with you later). After the second week, everyone is preparing for the holidays and no one seems to have time for anything.
  2. Holiday Cards — All holiday cards should be sent by the first week of December. Make sure they are addressed with your handwriting. The worst thing you can do is send a corporate-looking card from a non-profit. Put some feeling and emotion in your cards. I’ve had more donors give positive comments on well thought out holiday cards.
  3. Impact Reports Completed — All impact reports should be sent to your donors by the second week of December. Make them as personal as you can. “How did that donor make a difference with their giving?” should be your strategy with these.
  4. Thank Donors — In the craziness of the season, I’ve heard nightmares of major gift fundraisers waiting until mid-January to thank a donor for a gift they received in early December. Not good. You have to be all over this one. If you get a gift, your thank you note or call should be done within 24-48 hours. Who cares how long the “system” takes to send an “official” receipt? Once you see the gift come through in your daily gift report, pick up the phone or write a special note thanking the donor. You have no idea how many times a donor will give a second gift in December… especially in that last week when they consider their tax implications.
  5. Remind your donors about stock gifts — This is often overlooked, but many donors give away stock at the end of the year. So remind them early in December through newsletters, emails and other communications. If you know you have certain donors who always do a stock gift at this time of year, make sure you proactively give them the right information so they can make a gift this year.
  6. Last week of December online strategy — Make sure you have coordinated with the direct-response team on how you are going to be talking to your donors via an email strategy during the last week of the year. Typically, you want to have three to four emails going out, letting people know they can give a last-minute gift, the positive tax implications and take advantage of any matching gift offers you have.
  7. Focus on donors who haven’t given their year-end gift or are behind in their giving — In late November/early December, review your entire caseload and look to see who is off-track as far as their giving patterns, and make a special effort to reach out to those donors. In many cases, donors don’t even know they forgot to send in their typical November gift. I’ve had donors thank MGOs who reminded them when they forgot. Don’t assume your donors don’t want to give. Ask them about it.

Okay, there is your December strategy. Have it ready to go so that right after Thanksgiving you can put it into action. Having a proactive strategy will help you navigate through all the craziness that is sure to hit you. Remember, a good plan will set you free.