Fear Not: There’s Still Time to Put Together a Year-End Ask

Time has fallen back. The days are shorter. Winter is coming.

Believe it or not, it’s November. In the nonprofit world, that means one thing—it’s End of Year Ask season.

Usually this season elicits two emotions: excitement to put into action the fundraising plan to cap off a great year or “CRAP! YEAR-END ASK?”

If you fall into the latter group, fear not; you still have time. You can salvage your year-end campaign, even if you haven’t started working on it. Here are some tips to make sure you incorporate an ask during the last months of the year into your fundraising campaign.

Stop Waiting

Even though you are late to the game, there’s still time left on the clock. Just because you don’t have plans already in motion doesn’t mean you can pass on the end-of-year ask. If you do so, you could be leaving money on the table.

According to Blackbaud’s 2014 Charitable Giving Report, more than 17 percent of all donations come in during December. (June was the next highest at 9 percent). So sitting out the rest of the year is a bad plan for your nonprofit. Set a goal for your nonprofit and get in there.

The first step is to commit to doing a year-end ask, no matter what time it is. Get your team together and brainstorm ideas on how you can make it a success. You can start today!

Go Back to What Works

You might think that because you already did an ask this year, that you’re good. Not quite. Don’t worry about donor fatigue. After all, it’s not real.

What you can do is tie your year-end ask into previous asks. It helps to have a cohesive year-round approach to fundraising. Whether you planned to or not, you can build off of a previous mailer, event or fundraiser. Remind your donors of the reasons you are asking them for a donation (again). Make a compelling ask and build off a message that has worked for you before.

Then again, you don’t even have to build off of something that is yours. Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving and a popular day for people to give to nonprofits. You can easily use that day to build off of for your end-of-year ask.

Also, make sure someone goes over your donor list and segments it. You can send a different message to people who have already given you a donation this year. You’ll want to be careful so this doesn’t look like another cash grab. Show your donors what good you’ve done since your last ask. This will prove that you are putting their donations to good use and move the needle. If they can see that their donation is making a difference, they’ll be more likely to donate again in the future.

Don’t Make This a One-Time Affair

While you are asking for a donation, one of the most effective things you can do is give the donors an opportunity to give to you again. Whether it’s via a landing page or a pledge card, give your donors the option to make their gift monthly or annually. Doing this will give you recurring revenue and also know who is committed to you for the long haul.

Developing a year-end campaign is not just about the ask. While you are creating your ask, be sure you are also coming up with a way to show gratitude. If you can fold the plan for sending thanks into the overall plan, it will be more memorable and impactful.

It might seem like time is running out for a year-end ask, but don’t worry. With the right planning, you can still pull together a great end-of-year ask. Now stop reading and start planning!


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

November 6, 2015

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