Reflection Guide: What can you learn (and improve upon) from your 2018 Year-End Fundraising results?

By Mary Hackett, Associate Vice President and Wendy Hatch, CFRE, Vice President

You’ve made it through the busiest time of year for gift-giving! The ever-challenging journey of Year-End Fundraising might have thrown you a curveball or two, taken you down a path that wasn’t anticipated, or went exactly as planned with minimal hiccups.

Now comes the time for reflection.

Like any experience, it’s important to assess it before the memory becomes fuzzy. Below are some questions to get the juices flowing. So, gather your team and sit down to have a candid, eyes-wide-open conversation.

Let’s start with the anecdotal side.

Answer these questions:

  • Did we plan appropriately for Year-End Fundraising?
  • What cultivation and stewardship efforts did we make in the Summer/Fall to set ourselves up for a successful Year-End push? What would have helped our Year-End be more successful?
  • Was the donor experience special? Did we run out of time for taking extra steps/personal touches?
  • Were the right reports produced and were they timely? Were we able to course-correct when needed? What reports would have been helpful?
  • What surprised us?

Once you’ve examined the subjective side, next take a look at the hard data. Build a matrix similar to the example below to show a side-by-side comparison of all Year-End Fundraising efforts.

Answer these questions:

  • What were our Year-End Fundraising results? How did we compare to last year (number of donors, average gift, and dollars raised)?
  • What effort completely flopped? Why did it flop?
  • Did one of our efforts cannibalize another effort? Is it worth doing next year?
  • Are there efforts that we should omit next year because it wasn’t worth the time and effort?
  • Are some of our resources (time and budget) better deployed somewhere else?

Now that you and your team have talked through the anecdotal and the metrics, consider sketching out your 2019 Year-End Fundraising strategy and tactics now. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged, 5-page plan; a one-pager that maps out appeals, timing and goals is perfect. If you need help with planning, check out this webinar on preparing for Year-End Fundraising.

The candid conversations, honest and open discussions, and review of data will set you up for an even better Year-End in 2019. And, as always, we’re here to help you with planning, strategy, and reporting.