Newsflash: it pays to be prepared. In this case, literally. While you may think I’m kidding, it’s time for your nonprofit to start thinking about its year-end ask strategies. According to Blackbaud’s 2011 Online Giving Report PDF, end-of-year donations (October, November and December) accounted for 34.8% of donations received all year. That’s a large slice of the pie. You’ll want to be prepared to take on as big of a piece as you can for 2012.

So give the following tips some careful consideration, and your year-end fundraising is sure to be a success.

Tip #1: They Don’t Know What they Want to Give—So You Tell Them

Push the envelope, ‘er the wallet. If you ask someone for $10, they aren’t going to give you $20. So ask for the latter and hope they don’t give the former. No, I’m not saying you should take advantage of your donors. I’m saying you should give them benchmarks.

Not only should you ask for a specific dollar amount, you should tell them what that money would pay for. Meaning, tell them how much food that would buy for a child, or how many trips to the doctor’s office that would fund or how much of whatever it is that your nonprofit does. So, using the above example, you shouldn’t simply ask for $20, you should ask for “$20, which would feed one child for a week.” Make sense?

Tip #2: Inspire Them: Don’t Just Ask Them for Money—Give Them a Reason Why

As children, a book is a lot more interesting with pictures. It’s even better if they’re pop-up pictures. We’re not above pictures. Neither are your potential donors. Just because they’re adults doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good story time. They’re waiting, so go tell it.

So, along with your year-end ask emails and direct mail pieces, attach videos, photos, success stories and anything you can to show your cause in action and show them why they should donate.

Tip #3: Be Prepared, They Might Actually Give You Money

Once you’ve landed the whale, you’d better have a net big enough—that means, no online donor forms crashing, no 700-step process or 5 pages of forms to fill out before donating. Once you’ve finally convinced them to donate, it’d better be as easy as taking candy from a baby (or in this case, giving candy).

Prepare for your year-end asks by making sure your tech team is ready to handle any additional amount of traffic, and work out any kinks prior to your peak year-end fundraising time.

Bonus Tip: For Goodness Sakes, Remember Your Manners!

(No, we don’t mean saying “excuse me”). We mean say thank you. They just gave you money!  Show them your appreciation for their generous gift. Oh and “generous” isn’t dictated by how big or small the amount, a thank you is deserved whether it’s $1 or $100.

Are there any year-end ask tips that we missed? Share them with us and our readers below.