Here we are in the heat of the summer, and I’m thinking about the cool temperatures of Fall.
Actually, I’m thinking about how to raise more money this Fall.
It’s closer than you think and will be here before you know it.
If you’re a Last-Minute Lucy or Larry, and usually wait until it’s time to mail something to even start writing it, then this is for you.
Great fundraising takes planning and preparation.
If you want to make sure that you have your BEST fundraising season ever, there are some things you need to do NOW to set the stage.
Relationships take time to develop. Donors don’t love your nonprofit just because you want them to. You need to work at it to get them to fall in love with you.
Here are 8 things you should do NOW to set yourself up for greater success this Fall.
1. Review your numbers. Take a close look at your budget and your actual numbers from the first 6 months of 2017 to see where you are. Are you on track? Ahead? Or behind? Based on where you are, what needs to happen to end 2017 where you want to be? What goals do you need to hit between now and the end of the year?
2. Update your supporters. Give your donor family an update on what’s happening on your nonprofit’s front line. Keep sending those monthly newsletters between now and the end of the year, making sure they’re interesting and relevant to your donor. Consider shooting a video update that you can share online or in an email. Think about sending a postcard with an infographic of your progress so far this year. The possibilities are plentiful and the point is to give your donors the inside scoop on how you’re changing lives. They’ll feel “in the know” which increases your chances of getting another donation from them.
3. Say an extra ‘Thank you.’  Call as many current donors as you can to thank them for their support this year. Most donors don’t get thank-you phone calls, and this will both surprise and delight them, especially when they think you’re calling to ask for money and you don’t. Invite them to ask you questions or provide you with feedback (remember, people LOVE to tell you what they think!). These calls are usually short (3-5 minutes) and are a GREAT use of your time!
4. Plan your Asks. How EXACTLY will you ask for donations this Fall? And what’s the timing look like relative to holidays, newsletters, and other activities happening at your nonprofit? You don’t want to wait until the last minute to figure out when you’ll send out your Fall appeal, so start now putting your ideas on paper so you can manage the timing of when your donors are asked, and also balance those asks with enough good, warm communications so they don’t feel over asked.
In addition to planning your appeals, you should start NOW planning your Giving Tuesday campaign, which should be more than just posting a couple of times on Facebook asking people to give. And plan out your year-end appeal so you’re ready to go the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
5. Plan your communications. Lay out your content calendar for the rest of the year. What stories will you feature in your monthly newsletters? What kinds of things can you share on Facebook? What videos could you shoot and share on YouTube? Planning it out will make it infinitely easier to get done.
6. Prime your major donors. Make a list of your top 10 donors and top 10 prospects. Invite them out for a tour of your facility, and if you don’t have a facility, invite them to lunch for a video of what your nonprofit is doing. See if you can find out what they love most about your organization and tuck that away in your mind for later when you need to ask for money. Getting big donations is all about matching up a donor’s hot-button interests with a need you are trying to meet.
7. Engage your Board. Share your fundraising plan with your Board and ask them where they’d like to plug in to help. Remember that most Board members are terrified of asking for money. If you can get them involved in thanking donors or hosting facility tours, they’ll see that there are LOTS of ways they can get involved in fundraising without actually asking someone for money. Then next time you ask them to get involved, they’ll be more likely to say “yes.”
8. Line up volunteers. Once you have all your ideas on paper, see where you’ll need help and go ahead start recruiting. if you’re doing mailings in house, plan out the production schedule and start lining up volunteers to help fold and stuff letters. If you’re planning a Thank-A-Thon to call all your donors to say “thanks,” see how many volunteers you can find to help. There are probably lots of things you can use help with, and you can find the right people if you start looking for them early.

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