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Boost your fundraising with a month-to-month plan

Posted January 4, 2015 by Timi Paccioretti

Many of my development colleagues work in small nonprofit organizations and look for, as do I, great ideas that can be implemented quickly and easily to boost fundraising outcomes. With the largest gift giving period coming up in a few short months (more than 30 percent of gifts come in during the last week of the year), I thought you might appreciate some tips I  learned from a recent webinar.

Marc Pitman, author of Ask Without Fear, recently hosted a free webinar featuring Shanon Doolittle and Vanessa Chase from the Stewardship School. In the webinar, they laid out a practical, easy-to-implement stewardship plan, which can be implemented on a month-to-month basis, that I expect will have a tremendous impact on your year-end giving outcomes.

Month-to-month plan

Month #1 – September: Make a list of your top donors who have yet to contribute this year and call to thank them for their past support

Remember, this is a stewardship plan! NO asking; just make a phone call to say “thanks!”

Need some ideas on what to say? Check out Claire Axelrad’s free e-book Donor Thank-You Calls Ebook + Script at or consider these suggestions from Shannon and Vanessa:

  • First, introduce yourself and tell them how you are affiliated with the organization (“Hi! My name is Timi and I am a board member at St. Anthony School”).
  • Then tell them the reason for your call (“I’m not calling to ask for a donation, rather to thank you for supporting our school”).
  • Next, build rapport with your donor; ask them about their summer, inquire about their family, or tell them how wonderful it was to see them at your last event.
  • Lastly, give them an update about what’s new at your organization.

Month #2 – October: Ask donors for feedback with a simple 3-question survey

By asking your donors 3 important questions, you’ll relay that their opinion really matters and it’s valuable to you. This is a great way to build trust with them.

What 3 questions should you ask?

  1. What inspires you to give? This could be an open-ended question or multiple choice, if you prefer.
  2. On a sliding scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree, post this statement: I felt thanked and appreciated when I gave my last gift.
  3. In your opinion, what can we do better?

If you send a survey, be sure that you plan to implement the feedback you receive. It’s also suggested that you provide a follow-up to your respondents to share what you’ve learned and what changes you plan to implement in response to their feedback.

Month #3 – November: Make this month a “Thanks for Giving” month.

Create a Thanksgiving-themed stewardship touch to remind your donors how important they are to your organization. Send a Thanksgiving card or use social media to celebrate a donor a day or organize a Thank-a-thon to call donors to say “thanks!”

Wondering if this extra activity will pay off? Roger Craver, in his recently published book titled Retention Fundraising, reports that donors who were thanked just one time more than their counterparts were 40 percent more likely to give again.

Month #4 – December: Share an inspiring story that highlights donor impact

Whether you share a client story or use a donor story highlighting why they chose to give, the key is to be sure that you share that message where your donors are most likely to see it. Consider sharing it via email, posting it on your website, including it in a newsletter, or sharing it at a special event or on social media.

Need some help with crafting your story? Check out Chris Davenport’s video on A simple story formula for engaging your donors.

Little Green Light offers an affordable, easy-to-use donor database with tools to make this plan a reality. LGL allows you to easily search for your top donors, create a form to survey them, and even accept online donations for your year-end appeal. Interested in learning more? Try us free for 30 days or download our 6 Steps to a Successful Appeal ebook for more helpful tips.

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