Originally published April 8, 2015

Annual giving teams face a number of challenges when making the big push for fiscal year-end. Unlike the calendar year-end, there is no tax deadline to motivate prospects to act; therefore, developing a sense of urgency can be difficult. Here are some strategies to help you overcome this and other obstacles and achieve your best year-end yet.

Use Your Data

Now is the time to analyze and use information in your database to make informed strategic decisions when identifying your year-end strategies. Student calling programs typically generate pledges, and those outstanding pledges are a good place to start. In addition, consider pulling a list of donors who have historically given in the spring and those staff-managed prospects who have been suppressed from annual giving appeals.

Your data should define your segmenting. Not only are you typically short on budget by the end of the fiscal year, but time is also running out. Because of the limited resources, segmenting your remaining pool will give you the best results for your efforts. Consider these segments:

  • Spring LYBUNTS.
  • Leadership-level LYBUNTS.
  • One- or two-year SYBUNTS.
  • Appeals to reunion classes who may be getting close to their reunion weekend on campus.
  • GOLD alumni who still remember their senior spring and commencement.

Just as your data can guide you to where you should spend your resources, it can also tell you where not to spend. The spring may not be the best time to allocate limited resources to acquiring long-term non-donors or long-lapsed donors, except those in a reunion year.

Know Your Timeline and Plan Ahead

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: the key to success for any project is to make a plan and follow it. Statement mailers, commencement emails, and year-end emails are all items you know will be going out. Square these away now so you can focus on your non-donors and not waste time mulling over copy.

Space out appeals appropriately to make the process a multi-channel approach. Student calls should occur between commencement and year-end emails and build on the different forms of communication, including social media. Student calls can be incredibly effective around commencement when alumni and parents will be reminiscent and engaged. Without thoughtful planning, major dates may sneak up on you, resulting in missed opportunities.

All Hands on Deck

Too often, the fiscal year-end push is left to annual giving staff to coordinate and execute. But it is most successful when all members of the advancement team have ownership of it and are working together towards a shared goal. So, engage the entire advancement staff and your campus partners right from the beginning. By coordinating solicitations and strategy, all facets of the advancement program will see the benefits.

This coordination starts with leadership and should trickle down to every frontline fundraiser.

  • For teams that use traveling leadership annual giving officers, these staff members should be in the office making phone calls for the month of June, if not earlier.
  • If they have not done so already, your major gifts colleagues should ensure all their managed prospects make their gifts to the annual fund. Their calls to these prospects are a good complement to the appeals from the annual giving staff.
  • Colleagues in alumni relations and other departments can also take part in the fiscal year-end fun, ensuring that their boards, councils, and other volunteer leaders are at 100% participation and meeting their dollar goals.

While the drive to the year-end can feel overwhelming at times, there are a variety of strategies that can be used to help reduce the stress. By using your data well, planning carefully, and engaging your entire advancement team, you can make this the most successful and least stressful fiscal year-end yet.

Bentz Whaley Flessner takes the time to understand the complexity of your annual giving programs. We can work with you to conduct a careful and thorough analysis of your annual giving program by looking at your annual fund strategic objectives, program planning and implementation, staff training, and benchmark research, to develop and implement annual giving strategies to increase results. Contact us today to discuss how we can partner with you to develop your strategy for annual giving.

Copyright © 2015 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.

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