Mayes Wilson & Associates

What to do AFTER your year-end fundraising letter has been sent

Julie Whelan Capell |

Hopefully by now–mid-November–your annual fundraising letter has gone out to donors, or it is scheduled to be mailed in the next couple of weeks.  Neither COVID, nor working remotely nor any of the challenges facing the world should stop your organization from asking supporters to donate at the end of the year.

Once your appeal is out the door, here are four more actions you can take to ensure you get the most benefit possible from year-end fundraising.

1)  The number one most important action you can take is to call everyone who donates money to your organization within a few days of receiving the donation.  If you have a lot of donors, you may want to only call donors over a certain dollar threshold, say, $100 or $250.  But if you are a small organization with a limited donor base, consider calling EVERY donor, no matter how small.  If you need help, enlist your board members or other volunteers in making the calls.  Reaching out in this way will increase the likelihood of these supporters becoming repeat donors next year.

2)  If your organization has a strong social media following, consider participating in Giving Tuesday by posting thank yous and appeals for donations all day long.  This will prompt your engaged followers to remember that envelope they got from you a few weeks ago and either donate online or mail in a check.

3) Consider mailing a reminder postcard to arrive in mailboxes sometime after Giving Tuesday.  Lots of organizations have reported a surge in donations right after the postcard arrives.  

4)  I hope each of you are already mailing a thank you letter to each and every donor within 48 hours of receiving their donation. Omit or postpone this task and your fundraising future will be bleak.  

Most analysts are feeling bullish about the fundraising landscape for the end of 2020.   Although giving declined in the first quarter of the year, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Effectiveness Project report charitable giving in the US increased in the first half of the year by almost 7.5% compared to the same time period in 2019, led by an extraordinary 19.2% increase in small donations of less than $250. In addition, the overall number of donors increased by 7.2%, with new donors increasing by 12.6%.

So despite the multiple disruptions to our lives and our economy this year, there is no reason to believe donor behavior will change significantly. About one-third of annual giving occurs in December, and direct mail is still the most common method used for year-end asks.  

Remember, MWA is here if you need help with your year-end appeal, or any other fundraising challenges.