We are days away from the start of the 4th quarter, and as always, I want to know, are you ahead or behind on meeting your budget needs? Starting with this edition of the Coach, entitled Starting Your End-of-Year Preparations, I will share how to catch up on your giving while assuring a great closeout to this year.
How important is it to have a strong 4th quarter? As much as 30% of annual giving for non-profits occurs in December, with 10% of annual giving occurring on the last 3 days of the year. Let’s start preparing and planning for your 4th quarter end-of-year giving strategy.
Preparation is the key to a successful 4th quarter of giving. Every NFL team has a 2 Minute Drill strategy they practice weekly. To be successful at end-of-year giving, you must plan!
The lack of preparation and planning is one of the biggest reasons churches underperform in their end-of-year giving. In my experience, most churches have zero plans for increasing giving. Let’s change that starting now.
By the end of September, the end of the third quarter, you should know how things are stacking up and, thus, what your apparent need is. At the beginning of October, you need to start thinking about what your end-of-year appeal is going to be for. Will it be to close the gap in the budget? Will it be for some special cause or mission endeavor? Or are you in a capital campaign that needs an extra boost? Whatever your greatest need, that is your ask.
How you ask is as important as asking. Having an end-of-year plan is good, but you must think about how to best position your “ask.” The message and vision of your “ask” needs careful thought, consideration, and planning. I recommend spending the next few weeks thinking through what your end-of-year appeal will help fund.
Remember, vision drives dollars! When you communicate vision, you need to remember the three C’s. Make it…
Clear– Does it make sense what you are asking for and why?
Concise – Can what you are asking for be repeated in one to three sentences?
Compelling – Does the “ask” tug at your donor’s heart?
Your vision is the underlying reason for the appeal, but you must know how best to communicate that. I use,
The Three Major Elements of a Successful End-of-Year Appeal – Professionals use this formula for making appeals…
Crisis – I want my donors to know about… What crisis can your end-of-year appeal help meet?
Need – We can help by… What need will help meet that crisis? For instance, the crisis might be homelessness in your community. The need might be blankets, food, etc.
Ask – Your gift NOW will help us meet this need!
As we move into October, we will spend more time on this crucial topic. Start thinking now about your end-of-year appeal. Write down your thoughts and keep tweaking not simply what you will ask for but how you will ask for donors’ support. Let’s start planning for your best end-of-year giving ever!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach