As any nonprofit professional knows, the end of the calendar year is a powerful time to fundraise. Nearly one-third of all charitable giving occurs in December, and 12 percent of all giving occurs in just the last three days of the year. Twenty-eight percent of nonprofits raise up to half their revenue during year-end fundraising.
While December drives immense impact, it also is a great source of stress for the employees and executives responsible for meeting year-end goals. From our perspective as donors and former fundraisers, here are a few reminders to take the stress out of year-end fundraising.
Year-end fundraising coincides with the time of year meant to celebrate family, friends and the start of a new year. Don’t lose sight of everything else in your life in pursuit of the perfect fundraising season. Try making a list of everything you’re grateful for outside of work, and spend time at the end of the day finding joy in those.
Getting to know donors as people is beneficial to fundraising. When talking by phone or meeting in person, ask about their families, careers and holiday plans. People can tell when they’re just lines on a spreadsheet to you. And, it’s more fun for the fundraiser to interact with people beyond asking for money.
Don’t forget to lean on your colleagues and even donors with whom you have an existing relationship. Invite them to join brainstorming sessions or ask about their favorite—and least favorite—fundraising experiences. Their knowledge can help you avoid potential pitfalls while feeling less alone during this high-pressure season.
When you feel overwhelmed, exhausted or frustrated, return to why you got into this line of work in the first place. Whether you joined the nonprofit world because of a personal experience, deep belief in your organization’s mission, the people or a combination of catalysts, reflect on those reasons. During the hardest moments, if you refocus on the bigger picture, it may help you overcome negative feelings. If you still feel stuck, look into the symptoms of burnout and how to treat it.
It seems counterintuitive, but hear this out. Every interaction with current and prospective donors at year-end contributes toward their long-term relationship with your organization and cause. If a supporter fails to make a year-end gift, it doesn’t mean the relationship is over—you’ll have many more opportunities to nurture it.