2010 is quickly coming to a close.  It’s been a tough year, no doubt.  But this is no time to put the brakes on your fundraising efforts, despite what some “experts” are saying about the continued bad economy. 

In fact, the last few weeks of the year are huge for most nonprofits – so make sure you’re poised to reap the benefits in the coming weeks.

Here are some tips to help maximize your year-end success:

1. If you can, reach out (in-person or via phone would be best, but mail/e-mail can work too) to every middle and major donor that hasn’t yet given in 2010.  Make sure they know just how critical their support is to the lives your organization touches.  And how much you depend on their continued partnership. 

2.  Adjust your marketing calendar to squeeze in an extra year-end mail appeal or telephone solicitation.  Even if you only contact your most committed donors, the extra income from one added solicitation (especially in December), can have a huge positive impact on your bottom line.

3.  If you have a monthly giving program, year-end is a great time to ask these highly committed donors to make an extra “stretch” gift

4.  Don’t overlook planned gift donors at year-end.  They’ve planned for your future in their will, but many will also help you meet current needs at the end of the year if you have a compelling reason to give.

5.  Don’t go dark in the week after Christmas.  There’s a tendency to send staff home for vacation that week.  And rightly so!  They’ve worked hard.  It’s been a tough year.  Everyone deserves a break.  But I’d caution you to have at least a few staff members in the office throughout that week to help with gift processing (you should see a spike in gift volume), making thank you calls, and especially to reach out to donors that haven’t yet made a gift in 2010.  This is also one of the busiest weeks for organizations that receive year-end gifts of stocks and other securities.  You’ll want someone in the office who can handle these kinds of inquiries from donors, and who can work with your bank or broker to accept these gifts before year-end.

6.  Invest in Search Engine Marketing (SEM).  In recent years, testing indicates that the final three weeks of the year see dramatic increases in people conducting web searches for terms like “year-end giving.”  Donors and prospects alike are on the web during the final weeks of the year, and are actively searching for causes to support.  SEM will help ensure you’re front and center on the web when people in your community are looking to give.  Even a modest investment in Search Engine Marketing of $500 – $1,000 can yield returns as high as 3:1 – 5:1.

7.  Use a three-part e-mail series to build awareness, excitement and fundraising momentum at year-end.  Tie your campaign to specific year-end and holiday needs to ensure success.  Time your campaign so that each e-mail is at least a few days apart, and e-mail #3 is in mailboxes on December 31, to highlight the final giving opportunity of 2010 (for tax purposes). 

8.  Make sure to ask your volunteers for a year-end gift.  We had one client who recently did this and generated a 16.5% response to this request.

9.  Remember that you still have time to seek out a matching gift from major donors and corporate sponsors.  Nothing will improve your year-end results like offering donors the opportunity to have their gifts matched by others.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful as we come to the end of the year.  Don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail if I can be of assistance to you in any way.

Want more tips to improve your year-end fundraising?  Go visit Roy Jones Reports for five more great recommendations.

Wishing you much success this holiday season!