Making a List and Checking It Twice

The steps that you take between now and December 31, 2007 may mean the difference between an average year and an exceptional one. Have you put a year-end strategy in writing? If not, the following check list may help you prepare one. If you already have a plan, this list may be useful as you double-check your course of action to insure the best possible outcome during the critical year-end giving season.

Year-end planning check list

  • Review your strategy for top donors. This list may be divided between the top 10-20 donors, the next 100-300, or those above a certain dollar threshold. Develop specific plans for the top 1%-5% of your donors.
  • Also review your massoriented fund-raising efforts for the final months of the year, including direct mail, special events, phone-a-thons, e-marketing, etc. Include reminders about December 31 tax deadlines, and consider the possible use of a broad-based, year-end giving appeal that encourages donors to make their gifts in the best possible ways. This could be in the form of an already scheduled mail appeal, a special year-end mailing, or phone-a-thon follow-up mailings. (See page 7 for examples of year-end brochures that may be a helpful addition to these efforts.)
  • Consider a separate communication effort to donors who have given stock or other securities in the past. You may want to target all donors who have given more than a certain dollar amount.
  • Consider a special mailing to all donors over the age of 70½ concerning the benefits of rollover IRA giving for 2007. (See page 7 for an IRA brochure designed specifically for mailings of this type.)
  • Even if your office is closed during the holidays, make sure that the fund-raising office, phones, and computers are “open” to receive gifts and inquiries during that time. If there are institutional closings, develop a plan to check and respond to e-mail and phone messages.
  • Make plans to contact donors with gift annuities or charitable trusts to see if this is a good year to consider an additional gift or contribution.
  • Remind donors with outstanding pledges or pending proposals that gifts made prior to December 31 are tax deductible for 2007 income tax purposes for those who itemize.
  • Make plans to personally thank a manageable group of top donors for their 2007 gifts before year-end. Schedule personal visits when possible. Experience reveals you may spur additional gifts before the end of the year.
  • Check the above list and see if you have left anything off that you believe could make a critical difference in 2007.

Final thoughts

Thus far, 2007 has been a year filled with economic uncertainty. The real estate bubble, stock market fluctuations, and record oil prices have all contributed to the current state of the environment. In spite of this, Americans have continued to give generously, and household wealth and incomes have seen record levels. Charitable organizations and institutions that communicate their mission and the needs of their programs this fall will, as in the past, find the resources that they need to carry out their work.

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