Worth Considering: December Decisions

Worth Considering

It’s late December and one of three things are happening…

  1. You’re in total panic mode. There’s way too much on your plate to get done before the end of the calendar year. You’re spending 24/7 to get it all done before December 31.
  2. You’ve totally checked out. There’s way too much on your plate to get done before the end of the calendar year. You’ve said “too bad” and will get done what you can, which probably means never.
  3. Yeah things are busy, but running normally, and while its year end, it’s not much different than most of other months.

My guess is that most of you are in mode 1. Unfortunately, a few of you are in mode 2. A skilled handful is in mode 3.

If you’re a panic-person, the end-of-year holiday week will mean more of the same. Good luck and we’ll see you in mid-January when you come up for air.

If you’re a checked-out type, give yourself the gift of a resume for the holidays.

Is mode 3 your ideal? But how to get there?

I could say a lot of trite things, but really, none of that can help you now. The truth is that you can’t change much between today and December 31. Besides, there’s no one answer. Planning ahead helps a lot. Doing tasks early is important. You might even enlist a bit more help in the form of volunteers and consultants. But in the end, it comes down to how you’ve always handled things. In college, did you pull the “all-nighter” to finish a paper, or did you adjust and correct the work you completed several days before, and get a decent night’s sleep? Are you doing the same today? If you changed, why?

So my thought for you as you rush (or not) headlong into the holiday season is to ask whether you like, or even thrive, on the rush of last minute work, or is it killing you? If you love it, you’ll never change it. If it’s killing you, then force a break before one is forced on you (like getting fired). Maybe a mid-winter personal retreat? Maybe a long talk with a good friend? Maybe some professional perspective?

Have a happy holiday season and remember to breath at the end!


Monthly Tip: Look now, before it’s too late!

Hugg's Monthly Tip

Look now, before it’s too late!

Before things get too far in the month to make a difference, you need to look, and now!

For what? The names of people and companies in your database who haven’t made their gift yet.

Humans are creatures of habit. For many, December brings the habit of charitable gift giving. Your task today is to scan your lists for anyone who has not made their annual gift but usually does by year’s end. Your task is to help them keep up that habit of giving to your organization.

The problem is that it’s too late to send them a letter. You have to call.

Calling may not be comfortable, but someone has to do it (a volunteer?). Get your list in hand with the donor’s name, phone number and amount of last year’s gift. Then start calling.

Don’t think you’re bothering them. You’re actually doing them a favor, and approach your conversation that way. “Hello, you haven’t made your gift this year and we wanted to give you a friendly reminder because it may be important to you to take care of it before year’s end…”

Will you get a few grumpy responses? Sure. That’s okay. If there’s any problems they have with your organization, wouldn’t you want to address that personally?  Chances are you’ll have a fine conversation with someone who just forgot, has an interesting question about your mission, or had a life event that got them off track.

Remember, for every one gift you drop you need two new ones to get ahead. One simple call means that the next new gift is a net gain, not just keeping you even.

Have fun!

Worth Considering: Ahhh… the comfort of fundraising

Worth ConsideringIn my observation, organizations raise more money using methods that are most comfortable to their top leaders and volunteers.

Think of it this way…

  • People who like to write are drawn to proposals and direct mail.
  • People who like parties do special events.
  • People who like to connect with others like major and planned giving.

Then why are you trying to do every kind of fundraising… especially the kind of fundraising you really don’t like to do? Chances are, if you don’t like to do it, you won’t do it well.

This doesn’t mean you should stop your annual event if it gets you the visibility you need and names to add to your mailing list. However, it does mean that you shouldn’t try to do five events if they suck up all your time and make a tiny dent in your budget. If events exhaust you and writing energizes you, you’ll probably raise more money with proposals and direct mail copy.

Remember: There is no “one” way to raise money. However, there is one way that you can love raising money… and that’s as unique as you.

Monthly Tip: Who gets your mail?

Hugg's Monthly Tip

Who gets your mail?

Do you need to mail to everyone in your database?

I have a number of clients who have nice size databases… and every letter I write for them goes to every name on the list… and surprise… not everyone gives.

I write fine letters for them (really!) But are we really surprised that everyone who gets one doesn’t give? No.

Most of the people didn’t give last time, or the time before that or before that. In fact, most of the names never made a gift since their first… more than five years ago!

Why waste money on the slim chance that you’ll be surprised with their first gift in a long while?

Don’t be. Save your money and send more mail to the ones who give most recently, less mail to the ones who give less… and the ones who never gave for a long while… they probably will never realize that you stopped mailing to them!

The results? You’ll definitely save money not mailing to folks who don’t care, and you’ll probably make more by increasing the number of mailings to the people that do.

Worth Considering: How many donors to a dollar?

Worth Considering

If you read the last tip, “Running ahead to stay in place,” you’ll remember that to just stay “even” between 2012 and 2013, you needed to raise at least 1.7 percent more, or $17,000 for a $1 million fundraising budget.

That leads me to ask…How many donors do you need to raise a dollar?

Less than one for $1, I hope. How about for $1,000? More than a few, I suspect.

To get a better handle on this requires a (small) bit of math. How many donors do you have that make gifts of less than $1,000? Gifts at this level usually define your typical “annual fund” (operating expense) donors.

Let’s say you have 2500 donors who give less than $1,000, and that the sum of their gifts is $150,000. That means you need, on average 16 2/3 (let’s say 17) donors for every $1,000 you raise. (2,500 donors/150,000 dollars = .0166 donors/1 dollar. For 1000 dollars, then 1000 dollars x .0166 = about 17 donors.)

Last time we established that just to keep up with the 2012 consumer price index of 1.7% you’ll need another $2,250. At 17 donors per $1,000, you’ll need about 38 more donors. (2250/1000 = 2.25.   2.25 x 17= about 38)

How many more prospects is that? If you have a total database of 10,000, then you have 1 donor (2500 donors) for every 3 non-donors (7,500 non-donors/prospects) in your database, which means you need 114 (38 x 3) new names to get 38 more gifts. However, since new donors tend to give less than established donors, then maybe you should increase that ratio to 1:4 and look at adding 150 new names.

That may seem like a lot, but knowing how many more donors and prospects you need, instead of just dollars, means you can take some meaningful steps. It could mean renting lists, increasing the number of people at your event, adding new clients or their families. Since there are about 250 working days in a year – that means all you need to do is add a new name about every two days to your database. (Yeah, I know, sounds easy…!)

So how do you stay “even”? Get more… more donors! Build your list each day.