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FUNdraising Good Times

POSTED: November 11, 2016, 2:00 pm

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“How can we raise money before the end of the year?!?”

We have received several calls like these. Established and emerging organizations want to make sure they communicate with and solicit donors before the end of the year.

It’s too late. Fundraising is something that goes on year-round. If you’ve kept an open eye you will have noticed that large national nonprofits began launching their campaigns the week before Labor Day. By the time you are reading this if you haven’t launched your year-end giving campaign it’s time to take a few small steps today and plan big for tomorrow. Here’s what we mean.

First, be sure to send a personalized message of thanks to those who have given time, resources and funding to your organization throughout the year. Let them know what happened as a result of their giving and involvement. Invite them to an event your organization is already planning. Include an insert with options for how to give, and a return envelope. Keep it simple. Personally sign each message. Modify for use via email and social media. When gifts are received, immediately thank each donor.

Second, set your sights on the coming year. Look at how your organization makes decisions and how programs are developed. Is fundraising – or the development plan – an afterthought? Are there a few individuals – or a committee – responsible for fundraising while everyone else focuses on the “important work?” Begin a list of employees, board members, volunteers, clients and advocates who you could invite to participate in organizational and fundraising planning for the coming year(s). We will talk more about how to use that list in future columns. For right now, just start your list.

Third, consider a culture shift. Successful fundraising has at its heart a culture of fundraising where all parties are part of fundraising planning and activities. We’ve been preaching this because we have found it is at the heart of successful fundraising, especially for those organizations that are not launched with the committed support of major philanthropists or foundations. It’s being talked about more now, and studied. Here’s what Cynthia M. Gibson wrote in her report Beyond Fundraising: What does it mean to build a culture of philanthropy?

“Generally, a culture of philanthropy is one in which everyone—board, staff and executive director—has a part to play in raising resources for the organization. It’s about relationships, not just money. It’s as much about keeping donors as acquiring new ones and seeing them as having more than just money to bring to the table. And it’s a culture in which fund development is a valued and mission-aligned component of everything the organization does.” Cynthia M. Gibson

The report was produced by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. You can read it online at

We’ll be sharing more about this in future columns. We want you to be successful and want you to know what is really at the core of successful fundraising: it’s more than a program, it’s a way of being in the world.

Copyright 2016 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of the new book FUNdraising Good Times Classics Vol. 1 now available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.

First part of a two-part series.

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