When the ball dropped in Times Square, it did more than signal the beginning of 2018; it also marked the beginning of your nonprofit’s fundraising year. Right now, your calendar is a blank slate. You have the opportunity to make this the most robust year of nonprofit fundraising your organization has ever seen.
What’s the best way to get started? With an ultimate guide to developing your nonprofit fundraising calendar.
Nonprofit fundraising calendars do more than keep track of events and meetings; they also help you and your team implement a strategy to communicate with and retain donors.
Gather your development and communication teams, and let’s get to work.
1. Housekeeping: Set Goals and Identify Key Dates
The first things you and your team should determine are your annual goals. Goals will vary, but they can include items such as:
- Overall fundraising goal
- Target donor acquisition
- Technological enhancements (e.g, mobile giving, monthly giving option, etc.)
Next, identify the dates of fundraisers and events to include on your calendar. Events can include:
- Annual galas
- Year-end fundraisers and #GivingTuesday campaigns
- Board meetings
- Other fundraisers specific to your organization
- Networking events
- Slow fundraising season (more on that later!)
Now, you have a “skeleton” calendar, with goals and some events. It’s time to flesh it out.
2. Add Actionable Tasks
Consider the time and tasks that each event requires, and input this information on your calendar. With your team, take a look at each event or campaign and determine:
- When and how you will begin promoting the event
- How you will utilize volunteers
- How you will invite people to your event
- When and how you will thank donors
- When and how potential donors will be contacted
Input this information, including who is responsible for completing each task, so that everyone is aware when certain tasks should begin and who will be completing them.
3. Enhance Your Nonprofit Fundraising Calendar
Now it’s time to think about achieving your goals. Your calendar should include a strategic plan for engaging with potential donors.
Fundraising strategist Gail Perry suggests employing one fundraising strategy each month. For example, make January “Thank You Month,” during which you thank donors for their specific contributions and describe how they made an impact. Then, February can be “Storytelling Month,” when you use your blog or e-newsletter to tell your beneficiaries’ powerful stories.
Joe Garecht, at The Fundraising Authority, suggests a similar strategy, but calls it a “tactical fundraising calendar.” Scheduling fundraising strategies in the same way that you would schedule an event ensures that all members of your team are on the same page and that you are working toward your goals.
4. Handle Slow Nonprofit Fundraising Seasons
Sometime during the year, donations will slow down. This might be in the summer or between two major fundraising events. If you can predict this time of year, put it on your calendar.
This is the time to engage your audience with useful content. Send e-newsletters and publish blogs that tell stories or share research. Include links to your mobile giving page, so that when people are inspired by one of your stories, they can give easily, fundraiser or not. Slow fundraising seasons are a time when a mobile giving option actually helps you capture donations you wouldn’t have otherwise received.
The only “right” calendar is the one you and your team create after careful thought. So, put a pot of coffee on, set up the drawing board and make 2018 the best it can be!