While most fundraisers are aware of the importance of the last few months of the calendar year to their fundraising efforts, they may not have considered how critical the fiscal year-end can be to their fundraising programs.
The success or failure of one’s efforts is ultimately evaluated on the fiscal year-end rather than the calendar year-end.
While different charities have different fiscal years, the June 30/July 1 end and start dates are the most commonly used. This may mean that actions taken in May and June may be especially important to help assure a strong finish for fundraising programs that were negatively affected by the turmoil in the fall of 2001.
Preparing for fiscal year-end
This spring you may want to carefully review your fundraising appeals and segment solicitation letters based upon giving history. For the masses of donors, special attention should be given to people that have given in the past but have not made a contribution during the current fiscal year, especially those whose giving patterns may have been disrupted last fall. Remind them of their prior support and let them know that they still have until June 30 to be counted as part of this year’s efforts. For larger prospects, consider personal calls or visits. Also make sure that pledge reminders are sent in time for people to respond in the current fiscal year. Acknowledgment inserts may attract additional gifts as well.
On the planned giving side, there are also steps that can be taken to improve your fiscal year-end results. Examine your open estate files and call or write the attorneys, executors, or trustees to close estates and expedite trust terminations. Carefully review all planned giving proposals that have been made over the previous year, and implement a reminder system for open proposals. Gift annuities, annuity trusts, lead trusts, and life estate agreements may all look more appealing today than they did a year ago. Consider additional planned gifts from your expectancy list. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of donors that have multiple gift annuities. Remember that charitable remainder unitrusts can accept additional contributions. You may also want to seek referrals from individuals who are pleased with their planned giving arrangements. Finally, offer wills, gift, and estate planning seminars this spring, as milder weather and more daylight hours may boost attendance.
Do not forget to examine your budget and other plans and make any necessary adjustments for the coming July 1 fiscal year. Depending on the circumstances, you may find funds available that would otherwise be lost unless expended before the fiscal year ends.
Properly utilized, the fiscal year provides gift planners a second chance to finish the year on a positive note.