The January Effect: make the most of lulls in your fundraising calendar to strategize. Plus, the low-down on reporting.
The “January Effect”
You made a big push for End-of-Year giving, so can you really ask in January?
The Holidays are over. It’s dead in the office. Everyone is either out or working on reports. You’ve just finished your big year-end campaign, and you’re a little leery of asking again.
It’s a feeling we all get in January when all the air seems to be let out of our fundraising sails. It happens again at the start of the new Fiscal Year, too, in August. This “January Effect” can pop up after annual galas, major events and round-number anniversaries at your organization, giving you several “Januaries” in a year.
So how can you fight this dreaded January Effect?
Thank-You calls to donors are the best way to keep your cause top-of-mind for the coming year. Even those who did not give for the Holiday season should get a call. Thank your donors for their meaningful support and remind them that this year has lots more to do.
Mini Campaigns are a good way to get your fundraising year started – raise funds for a specific service area or a unique client. Put a short deadline on your mini appeal to give donors a sense of urgency. “Timmy needs your help now! Donate in the next 24 hours to make sure he gets our services when he needs them!”
A/B Test your mini-campaigns by sending out a short appeal for “Timmy” and for “Sally”, then see which campaign did the best. Look at what was different in your call-to-action for Timmy and see what you said in Sally’s campaign that got more donations. That information can be used to create more effective larger campaigns.
Brainstorm in the office to get everyone back on track. Sit your team down, pull out your pens and notepads (or stylus and tablets) and start mapping out ideas to put into play for the rest of the year. Did you have any “lightbulb” moments last year that you didn’t get a chance to act on? Did anything inspire you over the holidays, like an appeal you yourself got in the mail?
Develop your Board while there’s down-time. A new year is a chance for everyone to get a fresh start, so people will be updating their resumes, searching for new openings and looking for new opportunities to enrich their lives. It’s a prime time to look for potential new board members and to galvanize your current members.
Research foundations giving in January or in February – some foundations and funders have January deadlines or Q3 giving periods. Find out who they are and put together proposals for the early deadlines.
Don’t let January slow you down. There’s time now for you to create a work-plan for the next quarter, to create a robust calendar for the year, and to get started on your big events by laying groundwork now.
This can be a very focused month that bears fruit throughout the year. Don’t let this January, or any January, slip away this year!
Tips: Do Ahead of Time
Is January a slow month for your organization? Make it productive this year by using the time to thank donors and keep them engaged. Here’s a campaign you can prepare ahead of time: Valentine’s Day!
February and Valentine’s Day are usually about asking: “Be My Valentine”. This year, instead of asking, get to thanking. Thank the ones who’ve shown you support, kindness, generosity and commitment.
“Thank You” vs. “Love Me”
It’s easy to get in the habit of treating your prospective funders like crushes. You fixate on one, hoping for any acknowledgment, a glance, a letter, a meeting. Then when you’re rejected, tears dry quickly and you’re already pursuing someone new.
When you do get a “crush” to like you back, sometimes you get so afraid they’ll leave you that you spend a lot of time needing reassurance, which can be alienating.
Spending more time saying “I love you” is a more effective way of getting commitment than “don’t you love me?”
A heartfelt “thank you” means more than talking about how much you deserve to be loved.
For Valentine’s Day, send a personal thank-you note to your donors and supporters, or at least an email, to remind them how much you appreciate them and make them feel loved.