Your Fundraising Calendar for 2013

It’s time to plan for 2013! Here’s a guide to help you plan strategically to get the highest return for your fundraising effort.

And, as Donald Trump says, “If you’re going to be thinking, you might as well think big.”

Here’s a calendar that will nudge you to keep you on your toes so you can stay ahead of the game.

13871918_sJanuary — It’s Thank You Time

I hope you received a flood of gifts in December and particularly at year’s end.

It’s time to thank, thank, and thank your year-end donors again and again.

Penelope Burk found that donors were far more likely to give again if they received a prompt, personal thank you.

So go overboard and show your donors some love.

  • Create a welcome package for new donors and extend a special personal greeting to them.
  • Invite them to a special party or tour.
  • Send them a special newsletter.
  • Have someone your organization serves write them an appreciative note.

Find out how to create a killer thank you letter here.

11746210_sFebruary — It’s Major Donor Month

It’s time to add some firepower to your major donor efforts.

Set a firm goal for how many major donor visits you will accomplish each month.

Don’t let anything stop you from making these visits—they’re absolutely essential.

This month, recommit to getting out of the office.

You can make many different kinds of visits:

  • Thank you visits
  • Advice visits
  • Update visits
  • “I’d love to hear your story” visits
  • “I’d love to share our latest project” visits
  • “I want your opinion and feedback” visits
  • “Can you help us with some prospect strategies?” visits
  • Asking visits

11238099_sMarch — Social Media Time

I bet your cause could get a whole lot more out Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Don’t forget that people are social creatures.

When your donors take part in the lives of others whom they are helping, they are happier.

This month, assemble and empower a group of smart young people who will help you drive the social media conversation for your organization.

  • Be sure your cause has interesting things to say and share online.
  • Ask questions of your supporters online.
  • Seek their input online.
  • Rally the troops, ask for help, drum up volunteers — all online through social media.

12298389_sApril – Is Overhaul Your Messaging Month

Just how snappy are your messages about your cause?

Are they interesting? Imaginative? Full of energy?

Are you using stories, pictures, videos effectively?

Or are you still using that old lofty academic tone that so many nonprofits favor?

Remember it’s the story that evokes an emotional connection—not statistics!

  • Create a tone that’s casual and friendly.
  • Find a story or a theme to use all year.
  • Create a metaphor that is delightful and charming.
  • Use an icon or picture that exemplifies your metaphor.

Stop taking about you, your staff, and “organizational news”—instead fill it with stories about people you are helping and the difference you are making in the world.

12952972_sMay — It’s Party Time!

May is time to take stock of your fundraising events.

Lay out the numbers. Figure in the costs of staff time and resources.

Remember that you can raise much more with fewer events.

Events have the highest cost per dollar raised of any fundraising strategy.

The average net cost from events is about 50 percent of each dollar raised.

The real money in events comes from sponsorships. And they take time to develop and close.

If you are packing too many events into a year, you’ll never have time to plan far enough ahead to secure major sponsorships.

So ditch your next event, and you’ll make more money!

5841891_sJune – It’s Retreat-Planning Time

Time to pull your board together for a one-day retreat.

There are lots of themes you can tackle:

  • Conduct a board self-assessment. Are your board members happy with their experiences on the board? Discuss the results.
  • Tackle the most important strategic issues facing your organization. How are you going to deal with them?
  • What’s your organization’s plan for the next year?
  • Get your board members fired-up for the cause— and put them to work.

An annual retreat is essential for another important reason.

Downtime outside of a formal meeting gives your board members a chance to socialize with each other and get to know each other.

Social time helps knit them into a more cohesive group of team members. And that’s what you want!

If you need to plan a killer board retreat – let me know – I can help you!

3863286_sJuly — It’s Planning Time

If your fiscal year ended on June 30, you are probably entering a welcome lull.

It’s time to take a breath. And create a great fundraising plan.

Now’s the time you can take stock.

How did your fundraising go this past fiscal year?

Evaluate everything—your special events, your staff, your board’s participation, every single fundraising strategy.

Reconfirm your fundraising priorities. What do you need to promote?

It’s time to set new goals for the year. What kind of increase is really possible? If you plan for fundraising increases, spell out exactly how you’ll make those goals.

Never, ever set goals based on wishes and hopes. Instead, define a specific strategy to back up each expanded fundraising goal.

16042340_sAugust — Focus on Planned Gifts

To many nonprofits, organizing a planned giving program seems daunting and complex.

Exactly where do you start?

Planned giving doesn’t have to be complicated:

1. First, identify people who are your best estate giving prospects—they are your longtime donors who give consistently year after year.

2. Then plan to send them a note twice a year promoting an estate gift.

3. Get rid of all the jargon and simply chat with them about the idea of leaving a bequest.

Taking a simple step-by-step approach to planned giving makes it easy to implement.

12179119_sSeptember – Year-end Fundraising Time!

You’re entering major fundraising season—the year’s end.

If you are like most nonprofits, you’ll raise most of your funding during the last quarter of the year.

Lay out a step-by-step year-end fundraising plan.

  • First warm up your donors for the ask. Try starting with a “thankathon.”
  • Then lay out a multi-channel fundraising effort – using direct mail, phone follow-ups, postcards, email, and social media. Use the exact same message over and over in each medium.
  • And lay out a sequence of appeals that reminds your donors over and over how much they care about your cause.

This is how powerful fundraising is done these days.

Be sure you have a clear dollar goal that is tied to a specific project or outcome, even if it’s just keeping the lights on:

“Our goal is $250,000 so we can do xxxxx.”

October – Pull Out the Stops with Face-to-Face 11188279_sAsks

Don’t forget to include face-to-face asks in your year-end strategy.

Select 100 donors and map out a plan to see all of them during the year-end fundraising season.

If you can’t see all 100, then choose 50, or 40, or even 30.

Call out the troops; put your board members and key volunteers to work.

Make it an all-out-effort—with teams, goals, a deadline, a theme, and awards. Make it fun!

This strategy alone can put you over the top of your goal.

4451919_sNovember -Time to Tweak Your Web Site

Now’s the time get ready for that tidal wave of online gifts.

According to Network for Good, 40 percent of online donors make their gifts in December, and 40-60 percent of those donors will give on December 30 or 31.

Be sure your donation page is easy to use.

Add a Web page that says, “Your gifts at work”—with a pie chart of your revenue sources and how you use the money.

Post your overhead percentage—that’s what today’s wary donors want to see, because they are less trusting than in the past.

12195670_sDecember – Show Everybody Some Love!

This month will probably find you busy with your year-end appeals, parties, and gifts to honor donors.

There’s not much time for the big picture.

So this month focus on appreciating everybody!

Send holiday wishes to your wonderful donors who help make your work possible.

Take time out to thank your board members for all they do for the cause. Board members are so seldom appreciated.

And be sure you thank the staff.

An appreciated and acknowledged staff is also a high-performing staff.

Remember it’s the small thank yous and appreciations that make staffers feel appreciated. They’ll reward you with loyalty and even better performance!


There’s lots to do this year. Be strategic and focus only on what’s most important.

How can you put this calendar to use? Let me know with a comment?

OR did I miss something important?? Let me know!