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7 Nonprofit Must-Dos

In the Last 7 Days of the Year

We know you're busy! But we asked our team what advice they're giving clients as the year wraps up, and this is what they said. It's a must-read list!

7 Nonprofit Must-Dos

Here we are, nonprofits, at the end of the year again. Amidst all the twinkling lights and holiday cheer and too-tight pants, nonprofits still have their foot on the fundraising gas and will until the ball drops at midnight and the new year is upon us.

While it’s a sure bet you have a to-do list a mile long, we thought it would be helpful to check in with our team and crowd-source a list of seven must-dos for the last week of the year. Our team has, combined, approximately a zillion hours working with and for nonprofits, so take a peek and see if they’ve come up with something you haven’t considered!

The Last-Seven-Days List

As the year winds down, it’s common to either panic and try to launch a (or multiple) new campaign(s) to ignite a last-minute fundraising bonanza….or be so worn out you’re limping to the finish line.

Neither is advisable, nor particularly pleasant.

What will work is continuing to do what you’ve been doing for the past three months. It’s more about going the speed limit than flooring it to beat the car next to you! Keep your goal top of mind and constantly communicate the good your organization does. When prospects hear from you via different channels (think email, phone, text, direct mail) and get a consistent message, they’re more likely to donate.

Here are some other tips the CharityEngine team wanted to share:

  1. Think taxes! Send out year-end tax summaries. Many of your donors will start working on their taxes in January, and you want them to have your documents in hand. Issue 1099s to vendors, send donation receipts for year-end gifts (that link takes you to a free checklist you can use), and make sure you’ve valued and documented any in-kind gifts.
  2. Spend the next week thanking your donors, staff, and volunteers. Your donors deserve tremendous gratitude, of course, but your hard-working staff and volunteers should be acknowledged and thanked. And your board deserves a round of applause as well! If you really want to stand out this busy season, pick up the phone and call someone who deserves a thank you. It might surprise them, but they’ll appreciate it.
  3. Highlight your success stories. Include them in whatever outreach you have planned, or just draft some social media posts. The more you focus on the good you’re doing, and the impact donations have, the more attractive your nonprofit will be to prospective donors. You can get creative as you think of ways to share your success, but anything from the heart will be well received. (Psst…videos break through the communication clutter. Give them a try!)
  4. As you close the books on this year and set goals for next year, be certain your insurance is updated. Easily overlooked, nonprofit insurance can protect you from accidents, mistakes, or misunderstandings that can lead to liability lawsuits. There are many guides that have been written to help nonprofits navigate this world of insurance.
  5. As you plan your goals and campaigns, consider whether you want to make those goals public. Whether it’s via an email, direct mail piece, or even social media, publicizing a big annual fundraising goal and updating your constituents through the year can make them invested in the outcome…and teed up for your next big campaign. You can also share your annual report or a letter from the board. Transparency is key to donor trust.
  6. Check any contracts that might be ending in the next few months and decide if they should be updated or renewed. If you have many different systems running, it is easy to have one lapse! (A quick commercial: if you’re tired of all those disparate systems stuck together, shoot us a note. We’re the only game in town that keeps all your fundraising modules…and payment processing, too! one place.)
  7. Finally, plan something so your team can let loose after a busy year. Turn a ho-hum meeting into a dance party, take the team out for pizza, or even sit around and reflect on all the good your organization did in the past year. Celebrate your success!

Much like our team, those answers represent different areas of expertise. But the best to-do lists have tasks that might remind you of another! For example, thanking your donors might make you want to spotlight them on your website, and then you might remember you want to make your “donate” button just a little bigger or brighter. Just like the mouse and the cookie, letting one task lead you to others is one way to get a lot accomplished!

Looking Ahead

Remember, closing out one year isn’t only about maximizing fundraising. It’s also about setting the stage for success in the new year, so you’re able to leap into January ready to tackle new campaigns and challenges, as well as celebrate many successes.

Take a look at your strategic plan and think about areas in which you didn’t meet your goals or weren’t happy with outcomes. This exercise helps you plan next year, learning from past experiences and maximizing your impact with targeted strategies.

If you had a banner year, note specifically what worked. Which channels and messaging appealed to which audiences? How was your website traffic? It’s a good time to lean into analytics readily available in your fundraising software to dive into how and where prospects became donors and donors became sustainers.

And then…. breathe. It’s a hectic time in a busy year, and your focus on doing good things is admirable. Let your mission motivate you, this year-end season and beyond.