As I See It | Missy Gale, CFRE | President & CEO

Further stewarding your donor base may be the key to your organization’s year-end success

Since I’ve always been “the glass is half full” kind of gal, of late I’ve been asking myself what went right this year? A lot has gone right.  The most positive part of 2020 has been the slowing down. No hustle bustle to social events, restaurants or travel. While I do miss these interactions, this new, slower pace lifestyle has been great, and I hope I can find this balance when the pandemic ends.

Another thing that has gone right is the additional time for more meaningful stewardship. The connection with others, the common ground we are all experiencing, the discussions of things we need to change, to improve and to filter differently has allowed for richer interactions even though they are mostly virtual.

I am reading a lot about what the final months of 2020 will mean to nonprofits and to development professionals. With a contentious national election just a few weeks away, no real end date for COVID-19, a recession and the holidays looming, here’s what I am gleaning are the right moves to make now:

  • Use October for stewardship. Pull a sampling of your donor base below the top 50 you’ve been stewarding throughout the year. Divide these donors amongst your team for check ins this month. In addition, consider dropping a personal note in the mail to a few more friends on your donor list or email them a thank you note.
  • Carefully share your organization’s impact— not the chest beating things you do, but how you are benefiting and impacting your clients or constituents during this time.
  • Plan your year-end solicitations following this schedule – after the election prior to Thanksgiving and then again just after the holiday. This should prove productive unless your organization is directly involved in political or social causes effected by the election.
  • Plan a direct year-end ask via video conference or phone call to those you’ve been stewarding all year. These calls will be easier to make because you will know how your donor is doing and you can short list those who have been most responsive to your check ins throughout this year.  This is the best way to train your team and your board on the art of the ask!
  • Plan and implement a peer-led year-end board campaign. You can do this earlier than usual and use your participation rate or a match as a challenge for other year-end giving.
  • Have a robust development plan for next year. We don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, but we do know that organizations with strategic fundraising plans will do better than those without them. Stripping away important costs that help ensure success may be one of the most dangerous moves your organization may make. A robust plan allows for different strategies for each constituency and does not rely on one form of fundraising to meet your goals.

What is your organization doing to assure year-end success? I would love to hear from you, missy@mgaleassociates.com.

About the Author

As president and founder of M. Gale & Associates, Missy Gale has dedicated almost three decades to crafting unique strategies and solutions to complex fundraising projects and organizational issues, resulting in transformational fundraising success for her clients. With more than ten years at the helm of M. Gale & Associates, Missy has assisted nonprofits in North Texas and the Southwest in healthcare, arts and culture, social services, and education. Missy is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and holds the Certified Fundraising Executive credential. She has presented at numerous international, national and regional conferences. In 2014 Missy was honored as the Outstanding Professional Fundraiser by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Fort Worth Metro chapter. She has also served as national chair of the Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC).