GIVING Should Increase in The Final Quarter of The Year

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For many retail business, the final quarter of the year can make or break their income statement. For nonprofits, the same period greatly influences their ability to deliver programming, since it's when most of the charitable giving happens. As a result, it's time for every organization to take stock of their plans and opportunities that exist in the coming months.

The pending advent of October means it’s time to look at the last quarter of the year and review how a nonprofit organization can benefit from the increased giving activity that typically accompanies this time frame. If your group hasn't done so, it's not too late to build a year-end strategy. Don't know where to start? Use this GIVING acronym that I like to share with nonprofits.

Goals - Generate a "mini" development plan for the final three months of the year and set clear goals for the strategy. Who will you target? How will you communicate? How much do you plan to raise? Who will do the asking? What will be the resulting outcomes? In most organizations, this should be a part of a larger development plan. However, many smaller organizations have not been able to bring together the pieces they need to build one, so this could be a good place to start.

Impact - Create impact statements gleaned from the first nine months of the year. These should tell what the organization is about, what it has accomplished and how donors have helped to make these things happen. Donors need to be able to "see, touch or feel" what they've done. Stories of service recipients and the personal impact levied by organization service delivery are the most effective ways to relay these accomplishments and draw donors in.

Voice - Stories carry a message and need the appropriate voice, one that is tailored for the audience. This approach may require multiple, but coordinated, messages in a variety of media. The creation of those will require that an organization eliminates the, "one size fits all" strategies of the past. For example, create three different newsletters or appeals, with stories that focus on unique angles of interest to a specific donor set. Yes, it's more work, but the returns on investment should be positive and more than compensate for the extra effort.

Identification -  If an organization hasn’t done so, now is the time to identify donors and code them by their past giving, interests, and propensity to give in the future. Verify the organization’s database is in order and that it identifies and segregates key supporters. Remember, whatever the campaign, 80% of the giving will come from 20 percent of the donors, so one needs to know who those 20 percent are, and know them well. Capture the best ways to communicate with the top donors by creating lists and reports to identify those who should receive an e-mail message, phone call, mailing, special follow-up or all the above.

Nurture - Relationships need to be nurtured and so do donor campaigns. An isolated hit is never as effective as building the excitement and awareness around the effort. Like a good speech, a good campaign will tell them what you're going to be asking for, make the ask, then make a follow up to ensure they have an opportunity to receive further information or simply receive a reminder. Board members are often the best at being able to nurture these relationships and campaigns. Use them, and their networks.

Generate Giving - Giving Tuesday is one of the more focused efforts of the final quarter of the year, and it continues to grow.  As a follow-up to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday encourages the "philanthropists" of the Nation to remember their favorite charity. Falling this year on Tuesday, November 28, this ground-swell momentum after Thanksgiving comes with National branding and can be used successfully. More information is available at the official site www.givingtuesday.org 

If not a Giving Tuesday appeal, an organization can benefit from other year-end efforts. Just do something to generate it! Targeted mailings, phone campaigns and other unique efforts can help your group stand out. True, many others are asking, but many more are giving. Studies show that anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of giving happens in December, depending on the type and those giving. In fact, according to Charity Navigator, 12 percent of all online giving is said to happen in the last three days of the year! So what's the plan for that period?

With so much giving to happen in the last quarter of 2017, the time is now for those organization's seeking to benefit, to strategize for those efforts and apply this GIVING acronym.

David J. Fry, CDT, MPS is President/CEO of Effective Advancement Strategies in Greensburg 

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