Start Making the List and Checking It Twice

| by Derwin Dubose

By my calendar, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.

Last month, I blogged that for nonprofits the year really ends on November 22, the last business day before Thanksgiving. Due to holiday travel, it’s difficult to corral the people you need to solicit gifts and make decisions.

That calendar sentiment is ringing true as I work with clients on year-end plans. It’s getting more difficult to schedule meetings, to complete projects, and to get everything done on a tight timeline.

November 22 is tomorrow, but I know there are many loose ends that need to be tied before December 31. Amid personal travel plans and planning meals for the next few weeks, all nonprofit professionals should have an end of year checklist.

With only four working weeks left until 2014, here are some key fundraising questions that need to be answered:

  • Have you solicited all of your donors who normally give at the end of the year?
  • Have you solicited all of your lapsed donors who normally give in the fall?
  • Will your holiday appeal letter hit mailboxes in the next 10-12 days?
  • Have you made stewardship calls to all of your major donors and board members?
  • Will your donors get a holiday greeting?
  • Are you prepared to process an increased number of gifts at the end of the year and still send acknowledgements within three days?
  • If you operate on calendar year (instead of a fiscal year), are you prepared to close out the year financially? Remember, IRS code requires you to report gifts receivedby December 31, regardless of when they are dated.
  • Who is covering the office during the holidays? Who can donors contact in case of an emergency?
  • What intra-office decisions need to be made before you and your colleagues start to travel?
  • Do you have any big events or meetings during the first two weeks in January?  If so, what needs to be done now to prepare for them?

Before you head out for the Thanksgiving break, make sure you have answered all of these questions. Taking care of business now can bring more money for the end of the year and alleviate a lot of stress when you return from the break in January.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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