Three Fundraising Best Practices for Your New Year
By Kaitlin Robb
Consultant & Marketing Director
After the intensity of the holidays and year-end giving, nothing beats a fresh calendar and a new year. Before you move forward, consider incorporating these best practices both now and throughout the year.
Thank Your Donors
- Did you get an influx of gifts at the end of December? Don’t let data entry and accounting slow down your gift acknowledgment process. Look through the gifts still being processed to see who needs to be recognized today for their generosity, consistency, and response to a call to action. Proper acknowledgment is critical for donor retention.
- Consider the new year a chance to reinvigorate your donor recognition and stewardship. Create regularly scheduled opportunities to thank and recognize your donors. For a more thorough discussion, be sure to watch our full webinar on donor cultivation and stewardship. Below are a few ideas:
- Mail thank-you notes: These should be more than just acknowledgment for tax purposes. A well written thank-you note is an opportunity to share gratitude and information about what your organization is doing. Check out this oldie but goodie blog post with ideas about writing a thank-you letter your donors will actually read.
- Send an impact report: This could be your annual report or even a brief one-pager highlighting the organization’s recent accomplishments.
- Share a story: Did you have a group of children go on a field trip? Have a new art exhibit at the museum? Help a family move into their first apartment? Get a quote, write a story and share it with your donors.
- Involve your board and staff: Give them a handful of thank-you calls to make. Even if they just leave a voicemail, hearing from someone other than development staff is a powerful way to recognize donors.
- Send a text: In this day and age, texting can be incorporated into your strategy. This should never replace the written note or the phone call, but in conjunction with regular communication, a brief text acknowledging a gift or sharing a brief organization update to let a donor know you are thinking of them can go a long way.
Thank Your Team
- We know that sometimes fundraising can feel like a thankless job. There are always more needs and therefore more dollars to raise. So, before your next goal setting meeting, take the time to recognize and congratulate your team for their hard work and dedication as well as specific success. Expand the scope of how you define team, and don’t forget about all the others who helped you hit your goals (board, finance, administrative, and program staff).
- Just like thanking your donors, how can you incorporate authentic and consistent recognition throughout the year? Here are a couple of ideas that won’t cost a lot or take a lot of time but will speak volumes of your gratitude.
- Create a peer-to-peer recognition program where your team can write notes, send shout-outs or small thank-you gifts to their other team members.
- Recognize hard work publicly. Take time out of your team meetings or in another public setting to celebrate the accomplishments and positive behaviors of team members.
- Write a personal thank-you note to each team member acknowledging how they specifically helped you and the organization last year.
- Order a cake or treat for the entire office and bring everyone together for a job well done.
Look Back, Before Looking Forward
- This is when data can help. Looking back is about more than just hitting your dollar goals. Did you try a new strategy? Send an additional mailing? Did it work? Did you raise more dollars? Engage more donors? Analyze last year’s success as well as the challenges. Check out this article on Using Metrics that Matter.
- Now look forward. What do you need to be more successful this year? What opportunities do you want to pursue? How could you better document and track this so that in six months you can reassess. Check out this great resource on creating a development plan: Does Your Development Plan Avoid These Common Pitfalls?
We wish you all the best this year, and we look forward to supporting you in your important work.