Posted , by Keith Curtis. Topic: Donor Communication, Year-End Giving.

With the economy improving, the good news is that end-of-year donations may be up over 2008. But don’t count on your year-end appeal to save you from a down year in fundraising.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy just reported on how several charities are approaching fundraising season. One nonprofit director said that because their first year-end appeal, sent in 2008, garnered $18,500 from 1,105 people who received the letter (an average gift of $18.22), it’s now sending an appeal to 18,000 people. Annual appeals have their place, sure, but more isn’t necessarily better—and they don’t create relationships. The effort expended to send 18,000 letters would be better spent engaging 30 to 40 key donors who can make substantial gifts.

Year-end mailings may raise awareness and capture smaller donations, but they let your board off the hook. The role of the board is to help raise money and advocate for your cause by visiting donors to educate, inform, and thank them.

From a Bank of America/Center on Philanthropy study on high-net-worth households released earlier this year, here’s the top reason those donors stopped giving to a charity: “No longer feeling connected to the organization.” Ask yourself this: When you get an appeal in the mail, do you feel connected to the organization?

So send your year-end mailing, but make sure board members are doing their part, too.

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