Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday fundraising – Planning ahead

Many nonprofit organizations are looking at the end of the year, particularly in terms of revenue raised. Those that met or exceeded their goal have one thing in common – they thought ahead.

Every year about this time the internet blossoms with ads seeking help to "design a holiday appeal" or "boost our end-of-year giving campaign".

If you've waited until now to think about holiday revenue, you are about six months late.

In terms of grants, most foundations have already closed their application window for the year. While it is true that many grantors disburse a lot of their funding at year's end, they already know who is going to receive it.

In terms of local funding and many of the traditional campaigns such as Giving Tuesday (which occurs  December 2 this year) the participants have already been selected and the advertising, web pages, emails and even snail mail reminders have been delivered.

At best, your choices are social media blasts, and at this point that can throw you into competition with a maelstrom of carefully planned campaigns, many of them coordinated with big-budget marketing strategies.

Social media usually succeeds best with a broader, well-defined base of followers, so if your pages are mainly being visited by a few friends and relatives, social media may not immediately provide the oomph you need for serious fundraising.

One of the things that many organizations fail to account for is other people's budgeting.

Whether it is a huge foundation or your next-door neighbor, most available funding has already been allocated.

There is and will always be a certain type of last-minute donor, just as there are last-minute shoppers, but these tend to be one-time gifts.

Your goal is, or should be building  sustainable donor relationships well in advance of seasonal campaigns.

Seasonal campaigns rely on traditional marketing tactics. Building your contact lists, developing your media kits, lining up success stores or examples of need and tracking your appeal success rate all require implementing a cohesive plan with clearly defined steps and goals.

Any holiday fundraising is likely to  produce some revenue.  If you come up short of your goals, it might be a good time to consider preparing for the spring grant season, and begin developing next year's holiday campaign plans now by broadening your contact list and seeking out partners to help you expand your prospective donor base. 

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