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  • Writer's pictureDebra A. Gill

Kickstart 2024

10 Essential Steps to Getting off to the Right Start

In the realm of fundraising, February is often viewed as a quieter period, presenting an ideal window to address crucial tasks. Before the flurry of spring fundraising activities commence, consider delving into these pivotal actions:

1. Reflect on Last Year’s Fundraising Activities

  • Assess your results from the previous year by conducting a thorough fundraising review and audit.

  • Evaluate the return on investment (ROI) for each event with an honest calculation of cost vs results, including staff time. While friend-raising is worthwhile, determining the number of major and planned gifts that result from events ensures a focus on the true net benefit.

  • Review your entire fundraising budget and income. Are you meeting your goals? Are your methods cost-effective? Make plans for improvement in the upcoming year as appropriate.

2. Thank Your Prior Year Donors

  • While you undoubtedly sent the standard gift acknowledgement at the time of receipt, consider supplementing this with a fresh expression of gratitude. Unexpected thank-you’s are crucial for several reasons:

    • They reinforce the donor’s value to your organization.

    • They acknowledge that their gift was recognized and appreciated.

    • They facilitate donor retention.

    • They create opportunities to personally demonstrate impact.

  • Consider handwritten thank-you notes, individualized phone calls, or personalized emails. Customization counts.

  • And while you are at it, refresh your thank you letters with updated messaging. Try running them through an AI tool to see what modifications surface. It’s a quick and surprisingly effective way to get new phrasing into the mix, for free!

3. Verify Your Fiscal Year Fundraising Budget

  • Having a clear budget ensures effective fundraising planning.

  • Establish a strategy for donor retention and acquisition.

  • Explore educational opportunities for your team.

  • Determine how much you can allocate to fundraising activities keeping ROI top of mind. Common expenses include staff time, marketing, entertainment, event spaces, food/beverages, printing/postage, and online services.

  • Take generational strategies into consideration for thorough diversification.

4. Finalize a Detailed Fundraising Calendar

  • Create a calendar alongside your budget. 

  • Use insights from your year-end review to manage snail mail and social media scheduling, including event invitations and other key messaging.

  • Evaluate mailing schedules to avoid overlapping and donor fatigue.

  • Establish a clear plan taking advantage of Cause Awareness opportunities.

5. Explore Creative Fundraising Ideas

  • Consider unique approaches like virtual events, social media challenges, or themed campaigns.

  • Leverage holidays like Valentine’s Day to engage donors. For instance, host a virtual “Share the Love” fundraiser.

6. Plan a Virtual Fundraising Event

  • Virtual events remain a powerful tool, are typically cost-effective, and overcome geographic and seasonal barriers. 

  • Engage supporters through interactive experiences and storytelling.

  • Feature faculty, physicians, researchers, or other interesting spokespeople in customized webinars. 

  • Provide education on planned giving methods, charitable IRA rollovers, and giving through stock.

7. Leverage Social Media

  • Use February to ramp up your social media presence. Share impact stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and calls to action.

  • Encourage supporters, staff, volunteers, and board members to share your content and spread the word.

8. Engage Corporate Partners

  • Reach out to local businesses and explore or renew partnerships. 

  • Collaborate on cause-related marketing or employee engagement initiatives.

  • Highlight how their support aligns with your mission.

  • Offer wrapped giving opportunities – one ask/multiple engagement options.

9. Promote Monthly Giving Programs

  • Encourage donors to commit to monthly contributions. 

  • Emphasize the stability and impact of sustained giving.

  • Create a compelling case for why monthly donations matter.

  • Recognize those who are giving monthly and invite them to tell their “Why” story.

10. Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17)

  • Use this day to inspire kindness and generosity. 

  • Encourage supporters to perform small acts of kindness and share them on social media.

  • Tie it back to your cause and invite donations.

February presents an excellent opportunity to lay the groundwork for a successful fundraising year ahead. Make the plan, work the plan, and enjoy the results of the plan … it’s ever so much more effective to be proactive than reactive. 

Kickstart 2024 – it has a sweet ring to it!

Alliance Philanthropy’s philosophy is to inspire staff, volunteers, and board members for all types of not-for-profit organizations to raise funds enthusiastically and passionately - at maximum levels - in support of their mission.

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