The next 100 days (give or take) will play a major role in the following 365 days to come. After all, how year-end giving ends will impact the possibilities for future mission-fulfilling activities and fundraising programs.

Right now, my inbox is filled with articles, webinar announcements, and infographics telling me what to do to make the year-end fabulous. I’ve even written a few of those articles. Yet, I am always amazed at how many fundraisers drop the ball when it comes to maximizing year-end donation potential. Yes, that’s a bit harsh, but I don’t apologize. Year-end does not creep up on us like a tropical storm, or arrive without warning like an earthquake. Key milestones are predictable for year-end planning – Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, Christmas or Hanukkah … and of course, New Year’s Eve itself.

Unfortunately, some will still squander the opportunity. Don’t be that person! Between now and December 31, you owe it to your employer—and to yourself as a fundraiser—to be as effective as possible in growing your donations and your relationships with your donors.

So, check yourself—it’s time to get in the right frame of mind for year-end planning!

Replace Common Misconceptions with Year-End Pep Talk:

  • Misconception #1: We don’t want to bother our donors too much. Your donors support your mission because they believe in your mission. Sure, they don’t expect to hear from you ad infinitum, but multiple requests for funds – especially when sandwiched between some feel-good reporting that makes us all want to cheer – are not going to drive your donors into the arms of another organization. Don’t wait to talk to your donors when you’re desperate. Share your needs and what they can accomplish through your organization. Then, let them decide whether or not they want to support the opportunity.
  • Misconception #2: Our donors don’t like mail. Despite how you might feel about it, your donors don’t hate mail. In fact, a recent study showed that 86 of 100 Americans pick up their mail at the first opportunity, and 63 percent actually look forward to receiving it. As a fundraiser, our job is to communicate to our donors in as many ways as possible. Some love email, some prefer postal mail, still others enjoy face-to-face. We make a mistake when we project our own likes and dislikes on our donor file as a whole.
  • Misconception #3: If a donor already gave in the last quarter, it would be rude to ask them again. Results show that your best donors are the ones that recently gave. They gave because they believe in what you’re doing, they want to see you do more of it, and they want to be part of the solution. Invite them to do just that!
  • Misconception #4: We don’t have to nag; they know we have needs, so they will make a gift if they are able. Your donors are busy people. They have good intentions, but sometimes they don’t follow through. Make it easy for them to give. They will if they want to. However, if they have to go searching for your website, an envelope or a phone number, they just might move on and donate to someone else who made it easier for them to give.

Your donors are your donors for one reason: they believe in what you do! Wise fundraisers invite them to do it again, and again, especially at year-end.

EOY Fundraising Toolkit


Pamela Barden, CFRE, is a Direct Response Fundraising Strategist and Copywriter. With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations.  She specializes in writing fundraising copy, P.R. materials and instructional articles, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy.

As Vice President and Group Director at Russ Reid (2006–2009), she was responsible for the management of the largest single account for this marketing agency specializing in nonprofit fundraising.  Her nonprofit experience includes leading the fundraising work for International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (2001–2006); World Relief Corporation (1988–2001) and Youth for Christ/USA (1979–1988).

Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from the DMA, a Distinguished Instructor for UCLA Extension, adjunct instructor at University of La Verne and a weekly columnist for “Today in Fundraising.”

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