It’s 2020: Throw out your year-end fundraising rules and ask these 6 questions instead.

It’s 2020: Throw out your year-end fundraising rules and ask these 6 questions instead.

You know it. I know it. We all know it: This winter is going to be different

The virus’s spread is predicted to continue in many countries until late 2021. Countries with fewer resources will most likely be fighting COVID-19 until the end of 2022. As the entire world readjusts its expectations and timelines, nonprofits are being forced to re-evaluate, well, everything—starting with their 2020 year-end fundraising plans.  

As our friends and clients grapple with how different is different, the questions are rolling in. We’re hearing it all. Do any of these concerns sound familiar?

  • We think we need to move our gala to an online experience…right?
  • Do you think we should send more emails?
  • My Executive Director wants to make a video…should we make a video?
  • Our development team says we need more social media…do we need more social media?
  • Do you think donors just need a cool gift?
  • Is giving fatigue really a thing?
  • We probably should send more direct mail…right?
  • My CEO says we need to prove the ROI before we can try something new, so…can you tell us exactly how many new donors we will get?
  • How could we get a giving contest to go viral? Can you do that for us?
  • Is asking for estate gifts during a pandemic insensitive?
  • God will provide what we need. We just need to be patient…right? 

At Fervor, we believe God does provide. We also believe we are given skills and abilities we can use to participate in God’s work. Do you remember the story of the 10 talents? God gives us all talents, whether they are resources, expertise, influence, and/or a network of thoughtful colleagues. So we don’t bury them. We don’t make half-hearted, timid attempts. We use those talents—no-holds-barred—to do the most good possible!  

One of Fervor’s talents is asking our clients tough questions. So we thought we’d share some questions to guide your 2020 year-end fundraising strategy sessions. 

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you grade your online giving experience? The stats so far are pointing to a banner year for online donations. If your online experience isn’t already pretty stellar, consider making some upgrades to make sure it’s clear and seamless for donors. Patience is in short supply these days: Donors should be able to give within just a few clicks, especially while multitasking on their phones! 
  1. How personal are you prepared to be? The theme for 2020 is Zoom! In-person meetings are at near standstill numbers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be personal! Personal calls, personal letters, personalized emails…is your team ready to get their phones, pens and one-to-one emails out?
  1. Is your year-end giving an integrated communications effort? If your year-end campaign isn’t multi-dimensional, then you’re missing out. Direct-mail series should always be paired with digital, social and retargeting ads; interspersed with phone calls; followed with personal notes; and all tied up with your CRM (a must, not an option). Our lives are integrated; our marketing efforts should be the same.
  1. Speaking of integration: On a scale of 1 to 10, how strong is your year-end social media strategy? If you have a peer-to-peer social media campaign planned, give yourself 3 extra points. If you already have your content themes for social ads in the works, you get another 2 points! If you’ve been too busy and haven’t thought about social media yet, deduct 3 points…then start strategizing! 
  1. Is your entire leadership team involved in year-end giving planning? This is an all-hands-on-deck situation that demands a united leadership team. We use the book Traction (by Gino Wickman) and its Entrepreneurial Operating System model to guide our business here at Fervor. What sort of structure is your organization using to ensure you are all focused on the right Q4 “rocks” (or short-term goals)?
  1. On a scale of 1-10, how focused is your year-end strategy on your donors and best advocates? What do you need to change to meet their current needs? It’s the year of the pivot: We’ve seen restaurants who never would consider delivery….delivering. We’ve seen event businesses figure out how to teach online courses. Dig into how you can serve your donors exactly where they are—even if it means pivoting!

These are the kinds of questions that are driving our conversations with clients and helping us craft strategic year-end approaches. We hope they help you get your year-end conversations started—and boost your curiosity and creativity!


Want to walk through the questions with a team that is passionate about helping nonprofits achieve their visions?

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