We’re staring down December and praying for a successful end-of-year campaign. Does that mean we’re entering our “most important” month?
October is winding down and Q4 of the calendar year is hitting its middle month. That means we’re close to the most important fundraising month of the year . . . right?
You’re probably thinking, “but the end of year is the most important fundraising period of the year!” In a manner of speaking, that’s true. You know, of course, that about one-third of charitable giving happens in December (and one-third of that in just the last three days!) No doubt, your “end-of-year campaign” is uniquely important for your organization.
But that’s just looking at revenue in December. What are you doing to bring those donations in?
CHRISTMAS IN . . . JULY
In last week’s episode of Givers, Doers, & Thinkers, Jeremy Beer sat down with American Philanthropic’s digital strategist, Carmen Natschke, to discuss planning for your end-of-year campaigns.
Their conversation was recorded in August and Carmen tells listeners even then that it’s past time to get going. So when, Jeremy asks, is the ideal time to prep your end-of-year campaigns?
That planning should start in July.
A robust, integrated, and strategic end-of-year push has a lot to consider, plan, and execute. You need to look at extensive data about how your donors (and prospective donors) behave, how you can best reach them (especially in a crowded Q4 market!), and what themes and motivations you will use to engage them.
There’s a lot to look at and no small amount of preparation to have a successful end of year—and that can’t start in the fourth quarter. (Of course, if you’re a bit behind the eight ball, there’s no time like the present to start planning and preparing!)
By October, you should have a lot of the groundwork laid so that you are executing on the “tactical” steps toward launching and running a successful year-end campaign. At this point, much of your work is keeping things already-in-motion moving along.
THE MOST IMPORTANT MONTH
So, what is the most important month of the year? Well, what comes after December?
A whole new year.
More important than planning for December is planning your comprehensive fundraising efforts for the entire year. Just as you don’t want to go into December without a plan for December, so too you don’t want to go into 2022 without a plan for 2022.
And that planning needs sufficient lead-time, as well.
December may be the busiest month of the year with last-minute proposals . . . ongoing phone campaigns to reach almost-lapsed donors . . . constantly tweaking digital campaigns . . . end-of-year reports, fiscal statements, or donor meetings.
But busyness does not mean importance. You better manage all of that activity well, but that activity needs to be planned, and it’s October that you should be looking at the year ahead.
To repeat myself: there’s no time like the present to begin planning, so worry not if you haven’t taken the time to look at the year ahead. You’ll still be in a great position if you take time now to prepare for next year.
As you build out your fundraising plans and strategies for next year, here’s the first thing to mark: set aside some time in October 2022 to plan for 2023. (And set aside time in July to plan for end of year!)
There’s no denying that November and December is a busy time for fundraisers and a crucial time for bringing in revenue. Those months will be much more successful—not to mention fulfilling—if they are the crescendo to a year well-planned.