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12 December Priorities for Raising Major Gifts

This is an exciting time of year for major gift fundraisers. The rush to get the mail, the last-minute phone call alerting you to a gift, and the awesome inspiration that donors provide with their generosity is nothing short of a natural high.

But this time of year is also stressful. There is a lot to do in a short period of time. It’s hard to know where to put your energy.

We can help you to prioritize. The list below comes from our experience over many Decembers of raising major gifts. We know what you’re going through because we’ve been there!

Your December Major Gift To-Do List

1 First, get your story straight. Why should donors be giving to you now? Hint: it’s not just because it’s year-end. What will you do with their money to make the world a better place?

2 Make a list of all your major donors and see who hasn’t yet given, when you last spoke with them, and what their preferred method of communications is.

3 Set aside chunks of time to reach out to at least 10 major donors each week in December to ask them about their year-end giving plans. (One very talented major gifts fundraiser I know would ask donors, “Is there anything I can provide you to help in your year-end giving decisions?”)

4 Ensure that you are getting notified of any major gifts that come in through your website so that you can recognize those donors. (And don’t forget to test your donation page daily to ensure it is working!)

5 Send or re-send stock instructions with a personal note to any donors that have given stock in the past or who you think may be interested.

6 Stay current with your thank you calls and notes so that donors are acknowledged as quickly as possible. Involve others in the office like executive or program staff.

7 Make a plan for how your donors can reach you over the holidays when the office is closed. Don’t miss that late December call or e-mail that could have resulted in a gift!

8 Send out short e-mail reminders over the last couple days of the year to those major donors you expected to hear from, but haven’t. This can be a quick two-line note, asking them to remember you as the year closes.

9 Keep up with your database work so that after the holiday you know right away if you’ve met your goal. Also, the bigger your back load is on January 2nd, the less time you’ll have to take advantage of the opportunities for January gifts.

10 Closely monitor your organization’s social media activity. See if you can connect with any of your major donors through online conversations.

11 Reach out to any financial advisors that you expect to hear from this month. They may not be able to give you any information about end-of-year giving, but you want to ensure they have all the information they might need to send your organization a gift.

12 Send holiday cards to major donors that have already given. Thank them again for their support and friendship to the organization.

We know it’s still a lot to do, but by focusing on the 12 things on this list, you can make your December (and your January)  more manageable and rewarding. Trust us, you’ve got this!

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