These words can be said with either hope or dread, but for fundraising folks, this is a phrase uttered year after year in September. The often frantic push to connect with donors with the capacity to make a large gift or include a charity in their estate plan often becomes the traditional focus of most fundraisers between now and Dec. 31 in the year-end giving season.
The practice of condensing this important, yet ongoing, work into the last quarter of every calendar year puzzles me. It seems that a well-planned, 12-month donor communications plan would minimize the need for a year-end push. It’s the “work smarter, not harder” adage. This leaves more time to spend with family and experience the joys of the fall Thanksgiving and religious seasons.
We know that a smart major gift and bequest marketing plan should include three well-conceived, targeted communications to donors. It’s been proven time and time again—an important element is stories from donors about how and why they have supported your organization and how these gifts have made an impact.
Through testimonials you allow donors to explain their gift plans to other donors in their own voices. Often, it is the human side of the story and not the technical planning aspects that captures the interest of a peer. In other words, when communicating gift planning opportunities, put as much emphasis on the who and why as you do on the what, when and how of the gift. The what, when and how are pretty much the same for everyone—it is the who and why that set your organization apart.
Sharpe Group has a group of talented and experienced writers and editors who create compelling content and creative and innovative graphic designers who make the content attractive and appealing. One of our senior writers, Ashley McHugh, has more than 24 years’ experience interviewing donors and developing stories for a wide range of organizations of all sizes and missions. In fact, Ashley wrote a wonderful article entitled “Three Interesting Things I’ve Learned From Writing Donor Stories” for this publication.
As you begin making plans for a strong 2022, consider enhancing your donor communications in creative ways. Our consultants will work with you to develop a strategy to enhance your print and electronic communications. While the end may be near—the end of the year, that is—now is the time to look forward and take advantage of new and innovative tools to give your organization the edge to raise large gifts next year and beyond.
We understand, too, that you may be knee deep in year-end fundraising efforts. Sharpe Group has an extensive line of booklets, brochures and custom communication options. Let us lighten your year-end fundraising load now and work with you in developing your 2022 plans so you can raise large gifts throughout the next 12 months. ■