Want to Get Beyond the Madness of Year-end Fundraising? Here's Some Advice

The busy year-end giving season winds down tonight, making me wonder: Are you happy with your 2015 fundraising results? Are donations more or less than you hoped?

If it’s the latter, there’s something you can do about it, starting now. Follow Simone Joyaux’s advice in one of the best articles I’ve read about fundraising in more than two decades of covering the field.

With all the hype around year-end giving, as Joyaux notes in her article published last year, it’s easy for people (including your boss and your board members) to forget that raising money is a 52-week slog.

Fixing that, she writes, requires a written plan that’s “more than a calendar.” It’s a roadmap for the entire institution, not just the fundraising staff, and every board member has assignments in the plan.

The board assignments are negotiated with each trustee, who is offered a menu of choices to ensure that communications with donors are coupled with extraordinary experiences for each person or organization—and that donors regularly receive requests for donations.

“From a timing point of view,” Joyaux writes, “the organization makes sure that the fiscal-year fundraising plan spreads asking (and hence giving!) throughout a 12-month period.”

That’s how fundraisers ensure that cash flows into the organization throughout the year. And, she adds, “you ensure that all your eggs aren’t in one basket” at year end.

Do you have a written fundraising plan? If not, now’s the perfect time to start writing one.