Getting a Head Start on Year-End Giving

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By on October 3, 2017   /   Leave a comment

Twenty-five to thirty percent of all donations occur at the end of the year. Did you hear that?! During November and December people give over and above. This is true for your ministry partners too. Since they are already invested in you and your ministry, it is highly likely they would prefer to give to you — where their hearts already are.

There are a lot of tips, tricks, and strategies to an effective Year-End Ask (YEA). This does not mean you are turning a beautiful response to God’s calling into a mathematical formula. The goal of effective communication is simply to shorten the distance between hearing a need and responding to it. God lights a fire in someone to get involved, and we don’t want to let time dull that enthusiasm as the clamoring of daily life makes its demands.

Here are four steps—you do the work you can so that your ministry partners don’t have to. You want ministry giving to be simple, understandable, and easy. All they have to do is look to where God is directing and say “yes.” You have done all the logistics for them. The sooner you start on everything, the better!

1. Regular Communication

You don’t want your partners to only hear “asks” from you, so be sure you are on top of regular communication. Have a routine newsletter arrive early November—this is ministry-focused with specific stories (only one page, with pictures).

2. Ask Letter

This is your YEA. The goal is to not arrive amid the flurry of Christmas cards. The day after Thanksgiving is a good time to stick everything in the mail. If at all possible, make this a hard-copy letter, one page, color, with a personal signature and PS note. Also, include a response card and pre-addressed return envelope!

If you are overseas, there are many mailing services that will print, stuff, and mail everything for you—but be sure to put your order in early to accommodate holiday backlogs.

The goal of this letter is connecting your vision for ministry to life impact, and to the impact your partners are having.

3. Follow Up

The heart and soul of partner development is personal connection. But you also have to be mindful of the fact that you have limited time! If you have the time, for the best response, follow up the letter with a phone call asking for a commitment. This is a chance to connect, re-cast the vision, and personally invite people to respond.

The second part of follow up is a priority for everyone. Send a thank you within 24-48 hours of receiving a gift. If you are overseas, I would recommend emailing a thank you in addition to a physical card, to accommodate how long mail takes. Yes, I said a physical thank you note. Value the person more than their money—they are worth a stamp and a few moments of your time.

4. Finishing Up

Ten percent of annual giving occurs in the last three days of the year. Send out an email on Dec. 29th or 30th. This email is simply a greeting with the purpose of a genuine Happy New Year wish for your partners, while also serving to bring you and your ministry back to mind as they execute their giving. Don’t include any formal ask, but do include your online giving link.

Other tips

  • Utilize social media and email to give a short blurb from your letter. Always point people back to your primary method of communication, but connect in a variety of ways.
  • Don’t send a YEA to anyone who just started giving, gave a special gift, or increased their giving in the last six months.
  • Customize two different letters: one for on-going financial partners, one for non-givers.

You can have these communication pieces printed and ready before November even begins. Lower your stress level and get started NOW.

Remember—this is not about who can give, but who needs to hear about your ministry. The whole point of anything when it comes to support raising is about connecting with people on a relational level, connecting them with what God is doing, and inviting them to be an active part in that work!

What unique things have you tried that have made for an effective YEA?

Statistics from Blackbaud’s 2014 giving report and charity navigator

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