15 Nov Finishing 2017 Well
Dear Christian Radio,
I have a confession for you…I really don’t like needlework projects. Chalk it up to my own impatience…about halfway through the project I realize that I’m ready for it to be complete. Because I’m ready to be done, my stitches become erratic and I do not finish well; which is quite evident in the end result. Much to the chagrin of my mom and grandma I’m just not into that sort of thing!
Any good non-profit ministry understands the need to finish every year well. It’s important to take the time to formulate a plan that will meet the financial needs of your organization and serve your donors with excellence. You’ve hopefully spent most of the year—as it relates to your donors—cultivating relationships, effectively communicating financial needs, expressing gratitude, and showing proof of mission.
At PAR there are several key things we do to ensure that our organization ends the year financially strong and ready to serve our donors in the coming year.
Once we come out of our fall Fundraising Celebrations—usually in early November—we take the time to call and thank every donor who gave during our fundraising season. Yes, you read that correctly. Each team member takes a list of donors and begins calling each person on that list to express appreciation for them. Every donor is thanked for the trust they have shown by gifting us one of their most precious commodities, their financial resources.
Another layer of appreciation is a Thanksgiving or Christmas card sent to all donors who gave to the ministry’s current calendar year. Some years this is an actual paper card; other years, it’s an electronic card. The sentiment is always the same—wishing them many blessings and expressing our love and gratitude, as we reflect on the ways God has used them to bless our ministry this year.
Like so many of us, your mailbox will soon be filled with letters from multiple non-profits stating their financial needs. They will undoubtedly request a need for one more gift and remind you that it’s tax deductible. Almost all are good, honest requests coming from worthy causes that could really use your financial support. Even so, chances are only one or two will capture your attention.
For PAR, the two keys to a successful end of year mailing have always been timing and that extra something which sets it apart from all the other mailings. We have found that letters arriving after Thanksgiving and within the first 10 days of December have much higher response rates. What’s more, we are blessed to have an incredibly gifted graphic designer who always creates a mail piece that is not only beautiful but draws her in; wanting to see what’s inside.
If you are fortunate enough that she takes the time to open your letter, please be certain you’ve made good use of her time by sending content that has a message worthy of both her time and action. Remind her of the hope found in Christ even during this ever-busy season; be direct in stating your financial need; and make it easy for her to respond. We realize that paper easily gets misplaced. That’s why, our end-of-year letter is complimented by an email campaign that is strategically planned for specific days. The strategy’s messaging is three fold, as it:
- Alerts her to the coming mailing;
- Creates urgency by counting down the need—reminding her that time is running out;
- Reaffirms that the organization’s financial need is worthy of her consideration.
There is one last element I will mention. The final week of the year is a great time to take to the airwaves and ask listeners to partner with your ministry. A lot of people are weighing who to support financially, as the final days of the year tick away. A day-long campaign that shares stories, proof of mission, and the ministry’s need is a guaranteed way to boost end-of-year giving.
Honestly, there is much more I could share…how our Partner Services plan weaves together with on-air promos throughout December; the importance of playing her favorite Christmas music; and how fun content, encouragement, and hope delivers her from a season of endlessness exhaustion back into a season of cheer. I feel you have gifted me with enough of your time. Therefore, finish well with these thoughts…
Strive to end 2017 well by:
- Appreciating donors
- Implementing a well thought-out mailing plan—both paper and digital
- Providing multi-faceted response options
- Producing content that draws her to your ministry and leaves her wanting to give financially.
From our PAR family to yours, Blessings this Thanksgiving and Christmas; may you receive great comfort and joy through the gift of our Savior.
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