The Year End is Upon Us


Part one of a two-part series on year-end fundraising. Just in case you don’t know, the year-end is upon us. Christmas. Hanukkah. New Year’s Eve. This is also the time nonprofits roll out “year end” fundraising campaigns. Many started a few days before Thanksgiving. Or earlier.

If your organization is feeling a little “late to the party,” social media maven Pamela King of CMB Business Solutions (@CMBVA) suggests hosting a Facebook event as a low-cost, low-stress fun way to engage potential donors.

“No one has to get dressed up. You don’t have to drive. It’s easy and fun. But don’t get too carried away and forget the call to action,” she cautions. “It is all about giving and inspiring your guests to give. Be sure to drive people to your donate page.” Get started by clicking the “Create Event” button.

While the time for crafting a traditional email appeal has passed there is still time to craft and send an emotionally compelling email appeal. Keep it short and sweet. Be specific about how funds raised will be used, and how much you are seeking to raise. If you can secure a matching gift, that can add appeal. Remember, year-end nonprofit online giving tends to be impulsive, so appeal to your donors’ desires to make an impact and share some of the joy they are experiencing. As with all email, use a catchy subject. Include links to a special year-end giving page on your site if you have one. If not, link to your donate page. Tweet your appeal. And post on Facebook.

As a best practice we suggest you also take the time to open a free account with Guidestar ( Donors and funders check Guidestar to learn details about nonprofits and to ensure their legitimacy – you want to be listed there.

Holiday greetings are another form of year-end giving. Two local examples are MIFA and the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. MIFA offers Christmas, Hanukkah and Happy Holiday cards. The Women’s Foundation offers Tribute Holiday Cards. Both will send out beautiful, custom-designed and personalized cards to those on your list. Visit or

Nationally, the United Negro College Fund has rolled out a “Gift Catalog” at This online store lets donors imagine they are purchasing a text book ($125) or school supplies ($10) for an undergraduate; a dissection kit ($50) or scientific calculator ($150) for a pre-med, biology or chemistry student; or a T Square ($15), drafting pen ($15) for an engineering student. All funds are pooled and used to support students at UNCF colleges.

Finally, don’t forget to personally reach out to individuals who have supported your organization throughout the year. The gift of appreciation is a great gift to give.

Next week: can we skip year-end giving?

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They provide fundraising counsel locally and nationwide. Visit them at or call (901) 522-8727.