5 Ways to Supercharge Your End-of-Year Fundraising

by Seth Rosen

Last night I had my annual stress dream where I’m taking my high school Spanish final, and before I even answer one question the bell rings and Senor…

Development professionals love summertime. I know I always did.

Vacations. Warmer weather. Maybe a summer Friday or two.

Most of all, it’s just more relaxed. There’s a slower pace to work. Donors are away.

For the last 2 months, many conversations have ended with, “Let’s tackle that in the fall.”

Well don’t look now… fall has arrived.

How do I know? Last night I had my annual stress dream where I’m taking my high school Spanish final, and before I even answer one question the bell rings and Senor McKenny is taking my test away. You ever have that dream?

So it’s time to dig in and supercharge your end-of-year fundraising. The holiday giving season starts in just two months!

To get back in the swing of things I suggest tackling four things that you have likely been putting off during the past few months, plus one more thing that’s a bit more fun and will help you get through the upcoming grind.


First off, you need to do these things now. Not next week. Not next month. NOW.

Think of it like the polar bear plunge. Once your system gets over the shock you’ll be in tip-top form and the rest of your to-do list will feel like a vacation.

Each one of these should be completed in the next five business days.

While this list is great to get over the summer break it really can be used anytime you need to get your head back in the game after any amount of down time. I do these things myself after I return from vacation.

1. Call the donor you least want to talk to.

Be honest. There’s a donor on your list that needs to be solicited before the end of the year and should be cultivated right now. But you just don’t want to talk to him.

Perhaps the donor has been less than nice in the past, or maybe you were late getting the donor some requested information. It’s not ideal, but it happens.

The longer you put off talking to them, the harder the call becomes. So pick up the phone now. Want to know what happens when you fail to cultivate a donor and just treat him like an ATM? Here’s what happens.

2. Schedule your next three board development committee meetings.

Very often boards can be quiet in August as volunteers are enjoying the summer just as much as you are. However, don’t make the mistake of letting your development committee meetings slide off the radar.

The committee is well aware of how important the late fall and winter are for end-of-year fundraising and they will want to know your plans to get dollars in the door.

Also, you’re going to want their help. If your next three board development committee meetings are not yet on the calendar go and schedule them now.

Here’s a link to a trick I suggest to help your board become better fundraisers.

3. Write your next board report.

Almost every board meets in September, which means your next board report (or your boss’s report) is due very soon.

Starting your report late means a rushed job that fails to showcase your outstanding work. Use this fantastic board report template and start writing a report that shows off your work in the way it deserves.

4. Clean your database.

This to-do is absolutely crucial to do right after summer is over. If you have bad data in your database, it is impossible to raise all the dollars your organization deserves.

If you can’t reach your donors and prospects, or you’re getting quite a bit of returned mail, you need to spend time getting your database into shape. Otherwise all of your great planning, and your end-of-year fundraising, will be for naught.

5. Plan time off in January.

This is the fun one.

Let’s be honest, the next several months are hard for any fundraiser. There’s a risk of burnout. The pressure can be terrible and it feels like there’s endless work to do.

Please plan a day off in January. Plan a special treat for yourself. And I mean plan it. Look up what you want to do online, talk to friends, read Yelp reviews, whatever you need to do to plan a relaxing day. I’m not suggesting that you go without vacation before then. But be sure that you plan a day of fun just for you, even if that means binge-watching Netflix on the couch.

Block that day out right now. It will give you something tangible to look forward to in the days ahead.

What are the things you do to kick start your end-of-year fundraising after a break? Tell me in the comments below.

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