This is the time of year you need to start seriously ASKING for gifts.

Chanel the famous hockey player Wayne Gretsky who said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Add to that the urgency of the NOW.

The end of the calendar year is when most nonprofits raise the bulk of their annual fundraising.

It happens to be a time of year people are feeling their most generous for a variety of reasons. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is a full-on gratitude holiday. This is followed by #GivingTuesday. Worldwide, people count their blessings during religious holidays that fall in the last months of the year. When people feel grateful and blessed, they want to share. On top of that, some folks have tax reasons for giving before December 31st.

I wrote about this in “Proven Strategies to Climb the Year-End Fundraising Mountain.” Read it now, or read it again, to make sure you put your best foot forward with all the annual appeal and year-end fundraising strategies on which you’re currently working. I’ve got two guides that can help you as well, and they’re filled with specific tactics:

Need help with #GivingTuesday emails?

Last year Rachel Muir put together a list of the top email subject lines received by her and a slew of other fundraising consultants she enlisted. These examples are SO much better than the average, and you’ll see they follow the donor-centered principle of focusing on the recipient rather than the sender. Borrow liberally!

Right now I want to give you a philosophy to guide you through this critical ASKING SEASON: 

If you are afraid to ask…

If your board members are afraid to ask…

If your executive director is afraid to ask…

If your program staff are afraid to ask…

If your committee members and volunteers and other donors are afraid to ask..

Reframe your approach.

Don’t think of yourself as a “fundraiser.” That sounds like it’s all about money. Think of yourself as a “philanthropy facilitator.” “Philanthropy” translated from the Greek means “love of humanity.”

When you ask for a philanthropic gift you’re coming from a place of love, inviting donors to join you. You have an opportunity –a privilege – to open people up to the joy of giving.

MRI studies show people get a warm jolt of dopamine when merely contemplating giving. Would you deny this to people? What happens if you love a restaurant or movie? You tell others about it! If you love your charity, why would you be stingy about sharing your passion? You have power to give people purpose and joy.

Asking is not begging. It’s not taking something away from someone. It’s giving an uplifting opportunity to enact a passionately held value.

It’s possible the person you talk to won’t share your interest in your organization’s vision, mission and values. So what? That’s okay. It happens. But at least you didn’t give away your shot.

Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Get in touch with your passion. Recall why you got involved; visit your work in the field; read literature that reconnects you with your values; talk to colleagues and ask them why they stay involved).
  2. Enact your passion. Make a meaningful gift, whatever that is for you. Staff too! Giving time is good, but it’s not enough. Your organization needs money too. If you’re going to preach religion, you have to get religion.
  3. Ask someone to join you in your passion. Stop worrying about having to know every detail of what you do, or about having to say things perfectly. What you say matters less than how you say it. Passion is contagious.

Time for a few specific, tactical tips

1. Add a matching gift button to your donation page.

Did you know 78% of the donors who visit your website are eligible for a corporate match and don’t know it? Make sure you’re letting donors know there’s a good possibility their employer will enable them to double their donation.  Read this article. And this one. Also check out Double the Donation.[I make no money if you choose to invest in any of these services; I just think you should know about them and consider your options.]

2. Consider whether to ask for the donor’s credit card CVV.

Did you know anti-fraud measures can hurt donations?  Learn when it makes sense to request these codes, and also address verification, so you can make informed decisions that don’t decrease donations. Read this article.

3. Create donor segments for your year-end campaign.

If you’re not segmenting your year-end mailings, you’re not putting your best foot forward. Consider tailoring your appeals slightly, using segmentation categories that make sense for you. Read this article.

4. Don’t wait until after donations roll in to consider how you’ll thank these supporters in a meaningful way.

This is perhaps even more important than the solicitation.  Because an excellent appeal will yield a one-time gift. An excellent thank you strategy will yield a lifetime of gifts. Read this article. And don’t forget to pick up the phone! Grab my free e-book on this subject.

  • Penelope Burk: A thank you call from a Board member within 24 – 48 hours of a donation increases the likelihood of the second gift by 43%, plus the gift will be, on average, 39% larger.
  • Bloomerang: Calling a first-time donor once or more within 90 days increases retention by up to 58%, plus it nearly doubles the amount of the second gift.
  • Roger Craver: Thank you calls generated a 56% increase in first year retention, plus a 72% increase in revenues.

I hope you’ll take this guiding philosophy — philanthropy, not fundraising — into your work over the next several months. And beyond.

Please let me know if I can help!

P.S. You have access to my entire archive of articles, and they’re sorted by major categories. You can also use the search bar at the top right of the page to search on relevant terms to find what you’re looking for.