…because you won’t find “someday” on your calendar!
We are at the beginning of a calendar year, which gives us an opportunity to start on the right foot. If you want this year to be your best fundraising year yet, we have some ideas for you. In this blog post you will find five simple strategies to fuel fundraising in the coming months and prepare to launch an amazing year of giving.
1. Supply a Tax Receipt AND an Annual Summary
When a donor gives, often the only way they know that you received their donation is through a gift acknowledgment letter (often referred to as a “tax receipt”). Sending a timely gift acknowledgement letter with genuine appreciation is a good touchpoint that deepens a donor’s relationship with your organization and makes them feel you are fiscally responsible.
Stewardship Technology can manage sending gift acknowledgment letters for you! Here is a support article. It is best practice to provide a tax receipt within 48 hours of a donation. EGS will send an auto-generated receipt for donors who make an online donation, but we always recommend a paper copy too. Don’t underestimate the power of adding a personal thank you note to the receipt as well. Even just writing something small on the bottom of the receipt goes a long way with donors.
But don’t stop there! Each January, we recommend sending the Stewardship annual giving summary. Our summary receipt allows you to supply donors with an itemized receipt of all their donations no matter how small. Because every donation matters. The summary receipt is another touchpoint about your organization, but also convenient for your donors. The Annual summary gives donors all donations on one receipt. It helps donors save time and make the proper deductions on their taxes.
Let Stewardship help! Just print your receipts, fold, and mail. You just need postage and envelopes, we do the heavy lifting. To make your life even easier, our system-generated tax receipts work with window envelopes. Remember the IRS requires a tax receipt sent by US Mail for all gifts over $250 by January 31st for the previous year.
PRO TIP- Spend the time to merge all duplicate donors in your database to make sure households or donors do not get more than one receipt! Support article can be found here.
2. Produce Your Communication Calendar for the Year
Depending on the size of your organization, sit down with your team and plan out your annual communications. Make it simple, use an excel spreadsheet, and build out the basics by month and day.
Be sure to think about everything you might be sending and how (email, direct mail, social media, etc.) Here are some of the common communications…
- Special Funds & Appeals
- Donor Appreciation
- Social Media
- Major Donor Communications
- Emails Marketing
PRO TIP: The Stewardship giving pages allow nonprofits the ability to customize designations (funds) and provide donors with where they would like their donation to go. These designations can be coordinated with your appeals and marketing plans for the year. If you have not set up multiple designations, consider doing that this year. You can access a support article on how to do that here. If you have the time, take a look back and see which appeals and marketing generated the most success and double down on those appeals this year.
3. Projections are an Estimate
Now that your tax receipts are on track and you have a basic communication plan, let’s look at setting some projections. Stewardship’s comprehensive reporting functionality allows you to look at your giving history in several ways. History is key information when projecting the future.
Start with a lapsed donors report, as these donors gave to your mission previously. Here is how to get a lapsed donor report. Call each donor, determine why they didn’t give, resolve the issue and invite them back into your mission. Your planned communications with consistency and visual impact will help with donor retention. After speaking with these donors, you should have a gauge on how many may continue giving. This will help you estimate some of your giving next year.
Next, move on to a list of donors who have given in the last two years. If donors made gifts to your mission this past year and the year before, it sets the scene for continued gifts. Look at the actual monetary giving history and project future donations. Here is how to figure out who gave two years in a row.
The excel spreadsheet you worked on from Stewardship, along with anticipated grants and monthly expenses can help you project with confidence.
PRO TIP: Always make your donor relationships a priority. Don’t hide behind email! Call donors and solidify your relationship and the future of your mission. Most donors give based on an affinity for the cause, so your rapport with donors is foremost.
4. Send a Handwritten Note to Major Donors and Prospects
Emails and automated communication are great, but a handwritten note is personal. If you are looking to increase your giving, building relationships with major donors and prospective major donors is a priority.
Use the Stewardship system to run a list of your donors, here is how. Your organization can determine what level of donation might be a good cutoff to qualify as a major or “semi” major donor. Handwrite a card, note, or even a custom piece with visuals. You can use places like Canva or VistaPrint to create easily customizable cards.
Your handwritten message could look something like this:
Dear “DONOR NAME”,
I wanted to take a moment and thank you for your generous gift to [Organization] last year. Not only was your gift appreciated, but it also has a tremendous impact on [describe those you serve]. I know we are all busy, but I want to extend an invitation to schedule a time to visit us and meet our team at the beginning of this year. I will also be sending you an invite to our donor appreciation call where we can let you know how much we appreciate you making our mission possible.
Thank you again for your generosity and support. We are so glad you are part of our mission.
Best wishes for health and wellbeing this year.
(Include a business card)
PRO TIP: Do NOT ask for money. Just touch base for the sake of building a relationship and inviting a deeper connection. You are inviting donors further into your mission and establishing relationships to raise more money over the long term. Donor appreciation never goes unnoticed.
5. Plan for Events
Times have changed and organizational and donor views are varied when it comes to live events. However, it appears they are on their way back depending on where you live in the US. Depending on the state you live in, certain restrictions may still apply and the Omicron variant leaves room for the unknown.
It’s time to decide how your organization will approach events in the next year. Events were part of the planned communications we talked about earlier and should be promoted to your audience ahead of time.
Some people want to make sure they are in town for the golf outing or annual banquet. Others aren’t comfortable with a live outing, but still want to feel they are part of your wonderful work. Events are an invitation to join your mission and celebrate the impact.
Scheduling events ahead and advertising early, allows your donors to plan and increase enrollment. Your newsletters or other communications can list upcoming events and encourage participation. When you make your communication calendar you can weave in reminders and save the dates into other communications as you see fit.
PRO TIP: Stewardship Technology isn’t just a donation button – we also manage event registrations. Set up your event registrations ahead of time and add them to your website – allow people to register early and pay now! Here is a support article on setting up event registrations in Stewardship.
We hope this helps you increase your giving this year. Our team here at Stewardship is here to help. Our Mission Advocates and Donor Growth Strategists are providing the tools and resources you need to succeed. If you have questions, please submit them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, Take a look at our ebook…The Invitation for more ideas.