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January 14, 2021

Year-End Fundraising in a Pandemic

We’ve written in this blog almost every year about year-end and its unique challenges. But this year is really….unique.

Not only are we not in our offices to check the mail or answer the phones, we are also not able to visit our donors, drop off holiday gifts, or have a holiday open house.

But, like so many other things in fundraising during the pandemic, the basics still apply:

  1. Know your gap: Hopefully you already know how much money you need to raise in December to meet your year-end goal – or in my case – your 2020 budget. Be sure to look at all of your line items and audiences and giving channels  – major gifts, gifts from mailings, event revenue, etc. – separately to spot opportunity
  2. Create a LYBUNT list: Do you know who gave Last Year But Not (yet) This (year)? Well, you need to! Take that list and sort it from the largest gift down. This forms your follow up list for individual donors. Start at the top and work your way down. If you can’t get to the whole list of donors, take the lower dollar segment and send them an email as a reminder to give before December 31st.
  3. Use every channel you can: Take a look at your list and make note of  how your donors like to communicate. Try the phone, a connection via social media, a personal email, or a quick note (if you get it in the mail soon!).  It doesn’t have to be a hard ask, you just want to remind them that you’re thinking about them.
  4. Enlist others: This time of year a lot of program folks are not as busy as they normally are. Consider putting them to work! At my organization, we organized some in-house phone banks for staff to thank donors and remind them to give.
  5. Keep the phones open: Make sure you have a plan for answering phones and the email during the holidays. I know it would be nice to take the time off, but we all know that isn’t really possible for all fundraisers. You don’t have to be on all the time, just make sure there’s a way for phone calls to roll over to you if donors need something to give at year-end.
  6. Stay current on acknowledgements: I’m sure you have a system in place for getting the mail and sending thank you’s in a timely manner. Try to keep that system going so that you can thank donors for their generosity quickly, and not have a pile to come back to in January.

Most importantly, celebrate success! Yes, you made it through 2020 – the craziest, most challenging year for fundraising that anyone has seen in many, many years. Great work!





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