Giving Tuesday is over for another year, but if you think your job today is to add up how much money came in yesterday and congratulate yourselves…it is! So do that and then turn your attention to the delicious opportunity that is available over the next few days only and which will guarantee that you will raise more money next year.

Starting this afternoon, and over the next few days, do the following:

  • Call some of the donors who gave to you for the first time yesterday to thank them for choosing your cause out of so many other worthy not-for-profits. (Wait! What? You want to call all your donors? OK, but not calling everyone gives you a control group which will allow you to PROVE that doing this makes money. But, at this moment I can’t bring myself to dampen your enthusiasm in the name of research.)
  • Pull your board members, executive staff and colleagues into this activity so that they, not just you, get to enjoy the only perk in the fundraising business – talking to donors when you are not asking them for money. But, make sure you record in the database which donors were called and by whom because this precious information will serve you well in 2019. Calling newly acquired donors, by the way, will mitigate the biggest problem in fundraising today which is first-gift-to-second-ask attrition.
  • Compose a genuinely grateful and uplifting thank you letter (with variations for different stakeholder groups, like donors who gave earlier in the year but still sent you another gift yesterday). Send your brilliant letter to every donor who made a Giving Tuesday contribution. There are no exceptions, nor should you compose a “lesser” letter for donors who made smaller gifts. Donors who give modestly by your standard might be giving quite generously relative to their own means. They are equally deserving of a great thank you letter because your appreciation of their effort is what will inspire them to give more generously the next time. Make sure your letters are signed by someone of influence in your organization (ie not by a Development staff member, regardless of his/her title).
  • Use your experience, data and powers of persuasion to convince your CEO to authorize the designation of Giving Tuesday contributions that came in yesterday to a single, compelling initiative – a program or project more narrow in scope than your mission as a whole – and then let your donors know that this is where their gifts have been assigned. You would be smart to also tell them that you will monitor progress in that program or project and get back to them with measurable results as soon as they are available. (Of course if you had taken this step last week, you would have authored a much more compelling Giving Tuesday appeal and raised a ton more money…but that’s water under the bridge for now; you’ll do that next time.)

That’s it. Why am I sure that if you do these things you will raise much more money going forward? In our most recent Burk Donor Survey, 36% of donors said they left money on the table last year, even though 2017 was a record-breaking year. Even more impressive, 35% of the Survey’s most generous donors who gave $10,000 or more also said they held their philanthropy back. And, perhaps most exciting because we’re talking about donors to Giving Tuesday, 53% of respondents under the age of 35 said they could have given more.

Ah, fundraising nirvana. Some days, life is just too good, don’t you think?




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