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A Year-End Fundraising Checklist

By Mark Randall, CFRE, Executive Director of Pontifical North American College (Rome)

As we approach the end of the calendar year, development teams are in full swing. With estimates of 30% of all annual giving taking place in December (and 12% in the last three days of the year!), we have reason to be active. But no matter how things are going, don’t relax just yet. Here are ten donor-centric ideas you should consider to maximize revenue and relationships.

  1. Know when your major donors give to your organization. Run reports, check your data. Why wait to contact lapsed donors until January? Get in touch now and invite their renewal before 12/31. Many donors are busy and appreciate the reminder. Remember to let them know what you will do with their gift (mission impact!).
  2. Don’t rely solely on your year-end direct mail appeal. People give to people – not paper. Even major donors set aside appeal packages and wait for a personal ask. Never assume the check will arrive. Other revenue streams include online giving, monthly recurring appeal solicitations via email, and more.
  3. Send Advent or Christmas cards. Send as many as you can afford. Have the Director/CEO/Chaplain hand sign all of your major donor cards. And make the card design specific to your mission. Donors love homemade cards!
  4. Carefully consider Christmas gifts for major donors. While many benefactors view pricey gifts from non-profits as a waste of resources, everyone enjoys getting a gift. For your major donors consider a framed photo of your mission in action, a prayer/Mass/Rosary bouquet, a keepsake ornament, etc.
  5. Check on your print/mail deadlines for the first quarter of 2018. The artwork, mail lists, and postage for anything you plan to send is probably due right now. Don’t get behind in your solicitation schedule.
  6. Consider a no-ask mailing. ‘Tis the season for gratitude. Segment your low to mid-range donors and send a simple letter of gratitude for their support in 2017. Skipping a year-end ask might easily win favor for a Lenten gift in your direct mail program.
  7. Make sure your website has an easy option to donate online. Many donors “blitz donate” online on December 31. If they can’t find the online giving page or option on your website, it’s possible they will set your appeal aside.
  8. Keep social media active. People have time off as we approach year-end and spend more time online. Post photos, stories, historical facts, and facts about your impact to help generate revenue among those following you on social media.
  9. Turn around your gift acknowledgements in 48 hours or less. It’s hard work – yes. But donors greatly appreciate a prompt, sincere, and informative thank you letter…before January 15!
  10. Most importantly: take a moment on December 25 and thank our Lord and Savior for all those who generously support your mission. Pray for their needs and ask for God’s continued blessing upon them.

Mark Randall, CFRE is the Executive Director of Pontifical North American College (Rome). In this role, Mark oversees all US-based operations for the largest American seminary, which is based in Rome, Italy. His key areas of responsibility include management of the team, fundraising strategy, communications and marketing initiatives, and close collaboration with the PNAC alumni association of over 4,000 living priests in the US, Canada, and Australia.


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