For many, the month of December is a time to decompress and relax with family and friends. But mention “end of year” to any advancement professional and you’ll likely be met with some combination of wide eyes, deep breaths, and a reassuring mantra such as, “We’ve got this!”
As someone who has worked in fundraising, I understand that reaction since over 30% of all giving to nonprofit organizations occurs during the month of December, making it one of the busiest times of the year for schools and universities. But why is this month so busy? And how can you turn a stressful month into a streamlined, stress-free operation? Read on for three quick tips you can apply to streamline your end of year advancement efforts.
1. Anticipate donor procrastination. According to researchers, Parkinson’s Law, or the notion that, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion” means that since most donors are socially conditioned to reflect on their philanthropy at the end of the calendar year, if left unsolicited, they will wait until the last minute to give. In fact, 10% of all annual donations are made within the last three days of the year.
So while some donors will wait until the very end of the year to give their first gift of the year, other donors will give if asked at other points throughout the year (and many will still give at the end of the year as well!) Spring giving days, end-of-fiscal-year campaigns, and back-to-campus campaigns that focus on supporting student wellbeing, an area of particular importance to many donors during the pandemic, provide meaningful opportunities for donors to make impactful contributions throughout the year.
2. Make it easy — for donors and staff. Can we say digital fundraising?! As a fundraiser, I spent many Decembers calling and emailing donors one by one, begging asking them to get their end-of-year gifts in before we closed the books on December 31st. But the reality was that I wasn’t able to reach many donors because I wasn’t engaging them on the channel that worked best for them. Enter, digital fundraising.
Consider the lapsed donor that has become increasingly disconnected with your school over the past few years. Institutions like Arizona State University and The Oklahoma State University Foundation are using multi-channel engagement approaches to bring lapsed donors back, keep prospects and donors engaged, and apply the same giving experience that donors are used to with online shopping.
3. Streamline gift processing and reporting. It’s the last week of the year and your donors are coming through — the gifts are pouring in. So what happens next? Your leadership team asks, “Can you send us a quick report of the number of gifts made by alumni from the class of 1972 that were given on December 30 to the water polo team?” Easy, right? Historically, perhaps not so.
Make it easier for your advancement services team to enter, process, and begin the stewardship and reporting processes by leveraging AI and advanced analytics to make the delivery of reports — no matter how granular — and the demonstration of your team’s impact on overall funds raised a breeze.
So while we can’t promise you still won’t get that gift made at 11:59 PM on December 31, we can promise that with a thoughtful approach to planning, engagement, and technology throughout the year, you and your team can have a less stressful and more productive end-of-year experience.
P.S. Did you know that each year Salesforce employees are encouraged to give back to their alma maters or favorite educational institutions and leverage Salesforce’s matching grant funds? Tune into Education Summit this spring to learn more about the collective impact of Salesforce’s 2021 employee engagement and giving with educational institutions!
Read more about how to maximize your end-of-year fundraising efforts and build donor trust.
About the Author
Director of Industry Solutions, Advancement
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