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Development During the Other 11 Months

A little over a month into the new year, and your small but mighty development team probably completed its annual fund analysis (maybe using these great tips) and is moving into high gear executing its 2024 fundraising plans.

And if you’re typical, you may notice that a disproportionate amount of your annual fund was contributed in the last month of the year — as much as 60%.

So why don’t we just call it the December fund?

Because contributions made at the end of the year are a culmination of a longer stewardship process that happens throughout the year. Strategic engagement with your donors from January through November have a bigger impact than you might imagine on year-end giving.

And here we are at the beginning of the year, so now is the time to start!

Coming up with creative engagement opportunities that speak to the interests of your donors can be a lot of fun. See if your team can think of a stewardship move for every month during a staff meeting. Here are some to get your juices flowing.

Your Year-Long Fundraising Calendar

fundraising calendar

January: Thanks — A Lot. Chances are you received some nice gifts in December and spent the first several days back digging out and thanking your generous donors. It could be by email, snail mail cards or even a phone call to express how grateful you are. Maybe you created a website page listing your donors. Gratitude can take many forms — don’t let it go unspoken!


February: Educate and Engage. Flex your organization’s know-how muscle and host a webinar with experts from your team. Attract a spectrum of participants to experience a thoughtful perspective on a timely issue. You can even do 2 versions: a small participatory event for very engaged donors and a formal one for your greater donor community.

March: What’s the Latest? Give your donors a substantive update on your latest client successes, organizational wins, and achievements of your team. One page of program news, data, and stories, personalized for some of your most invested donors, can inject a sense of connection to your mission. Your donors will see how well their resources are being used.


April: Get Together. Say thank you in person. Host a convening at a board member's home or office. Have a social gathering with a program theme, a cocktail hour for casual connections, or a program site visit to see your work in action. Do something engaging and substantive while coupling it with a recent learning from the field.

May: One-on-One Time. Take a walk with your favorite funder. Ask them about their giving philosophy and why they give to you. With their permission, share their story on your website or newsletter. Your readers will be inspired, your donor will feel appreciated, and who knows? Maybe other donors will learn from this one and give more.

June: Get the Board on Board. Inspire your board to do a thank-a-thon to your donors. They can send personalized emails, make phone calls, and even take a couple of them out for coffee. Make it full of genuine appreciation. It’s halfway through the year, so something big like this can cement their year-end plans (or, if your fiscal year ends in June, secure great gifts now).


July: Spin Another Webinar. Put a state of the union address into your summer mix. See what you learned from the last webinar and seek to tailor this one accordingly. And if you find that this event created a lot more buzz, explore the idea of launching a thematic webinar series. Start planning this year to make next year’s series really fly.

August: Summer Movie Season. Bring your organization’s vision to life with a program video of your work in action, an interview with a client who has achieved great things, or testimonials from board members or other stakeholders. Save the polished professional video for your annual gala — this is just a snippet of life with your organization. Authentic, informative, inspiring.


September: Wake-Up Call. Host a breakfast with two board members as co-hosts. Keep it simple, not too expensive, no frills — at their work spot or a nearby restaurant. You’d be surprised how many donors will stop by if the topic is compelling and the outreach is intriguing. If you have donors in several states, consider hosting these convenings at different locations.

October: Make The Case. By now, you are officially building toward the year-end appeal. The stewardship performed here should “prove” your impact combined with an emotional hook that grabs your donor’s attention. Show why your organization is vital. Combine a program update with an illustration of the greater problem. If you run an opioid addiction clinic, talk about the larger crisis. Show them why their gift matters — not just to your organization, but to society.

November: Thanks + Giving. Use the special day of Giving Tuesday to share a heartfelt electronic thank you card. Embed a reason to support your organization in a note of gratitude for all those giving to your work: donors, volunteers, in-kind supporters, pro bono lawyers, etc. This is your last time to thank before you put in the hard-sell to ask for a renewal gift.


This list includes just a few of the ideas for stewarding your supporters and keeping them engaged year-round. See what creative recommendations your team can generate. Drop me a line to share the ones that jump out for you and I can share them with others. Working together comes in many forms!


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