If you know me, you know this is my favorite time of the year: FOOTBALL SEASON! Football is a game with four quarters. The fourth quarter can be a critical time in not only the game being played, but also sets the tone for future games yet to be played.
As you approach the fourth quarter of the calendar year, take some time to assess your current development score and make a strong plan to finish the year out with a win.
- Are you lagging behind? Now is a good time for focused gift discussions with donors who haven’t been approached yet. Some donors who have already given will be supportive of a case for a specific program or operational needs that may be threatened by lack of funding. The game is not over, but you’ll need a very targeted plan to win. Specificity is key during this time.
- Do you have any plans for year-end direct mail, online Giving Tuesday participation or other activities that focus on those donors who primarily make their gifts during this time of the year? Remember, in a donor-centered culture, we are prepared to discuss funding opportunities when donors are most ready to listen, not just when it fits within our “annual campaign calendar” timeline.
- Are you executing on that stewardship plan you rolled out at the beginning of the new year? If you have missed some steps, its not too late. Reinvigorate your thank you efforts all throughout the fourth quarter to not only thank donors for past gifts but to bolster year-end giving. The game isn’t over! End the year strong.
- Sometimes, when we are “way ahead” in the fourth quarter, players with less experience get playing time, giving them a chance to develop through live game experience. Do you have some staff who could get involved in year-end stewardship efforts such as organizing a thank-you phone a thon, or writing and sharing stories for a social media campaign targeting efforts to raise year-end dollars for a specific initiative? Take someone with you on a stewardship visit or include a future leader as part of a tour. Growing their level of comfort will make them better down the road when it’s their turn to “get in the game.”
- What is the status of your acknowledgement process? Have all donors been thanked more than once this year? Don’t let sloppy game play penalize you in the fourth quarter and erode the lead you worked so hard for. Review your back office process to make sure you have given donors, including staff who payroll deduct, what they will need in order to wrap up their year-end documentation and prepare for taxes.
As you prepare for the fourth quarter, make sure your whole team is as prepared and motivated as they can be. Whether you have a deficit to overcome or a lead to grow, keep your head in the game and keep playing!