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Finish Strong! 6 Tips for Successful Year-End Fundraising

in Boards, Giving, Planning by Sara Lundenberger Leave a comment

The end of the year is approaching and we all know what that means! Nervous fundraisers are doing everything they can to hit their yearly fundraising goals; running their donor lists and checking them twice to make sure they don’t miss any possible dollars. Although there are only a few weeks left in the year, here are a few things you can do for a final push to hit your goals.  Remember: 12 percent of giving happens in the last three days of the year!

1- Make sure 100 percent of your board has given
Having the financial support of your board sends a message that those closest to your organization believe in the mission. There are also many grantors that require 100 percent participation for funding. If you need to, enlist your board chair for help to solicit those last-minute shoppers. Remind your board that even making a pledge and paying it in the new year can still count as a participation in 2017.

2- Post on your social media
No, social media is not going to bring in significant dollars. (I can repeat that if you need proof for your executive director.)  In 2016, social media brought in about 7 percent of all donations. BUT, post a compelling story about someone or something your organization did in 2017 and you might gain a few new donors and/or followers.

3- Send out an e-blast/e-newsletter
For every 1,000 newsletters you send, you can expect a $44 return. That doesn’t sound like much, but if a donor’s first gift is $44 from an e-newsletter, imagine their potential once they’ve been stewarded and thanked all year long. Keep it simple and to the point. Nobody has time to read a three-page story, especially at the holidays; however, a reminder about your organization, why you are important and what you did in 2017 might be enough to persuade someone to give you their year-end gift.

4- Remind donors about stock gifts
The stock market is up, so if you can accept stock gifts – DO! Stock is a great way for donors to give to your organization, sometimes at a higher amount than they could in cash. If you can’t accept stock this year, add it to your to-do list in January.

5- Pick up the phone
Visit the ghost of Christmas past and remember the days of actual phone conversations. Call your largest donors who haven’t given yet and gently remind them about the importance of their donation. Even better, enlist your board members (who are always asking how they can help) to call a few donors and thank them for their support.

6- Make a plan for next year
You know all of those awesome ideas you have right now that you don’t have the time, money or the resources to implement? Write them down for next year!

You still have plenty of time to engage your donors and hit your fundraising goals.  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Sara Lundenberger, director, nonprofit consulting

10 ways to improve the board, staff relationship in a small nonprofit

in Boards, Giving, Volunteerism by Amy Wong Leave a comment

I hear countless stories from small nonprofits who are frustrated with their boards.

Surprise, nonprofits! The boards get frustrated with you too.

I tend to see the biggest frustration with smaller nonprofits for several reasons:

  • They don’t have internal resources to manage a board effectively.
  • They are often run by individuals who are passionate and capable of running the organization, but have received no training in managing a board
  • They have little board turnover. This leads to stagnation, boredom and apathy.
  • They are not strategic in their board recruitment. As author Jim Collins would say, nonprofits “need to get the right people on the bus.”1 Many do not.


Unfortunately, this frustration can be detrimental to the organization over the long term. So, here are some suggestions to help nonprofits AND their board members develop a successful relationship.

Suggestions to nonprofits:

  1. Have an outline of board member expectations – and stick to them. Financial support, meeting attendance and volunteer expectations are key components of this outline. If they don’t agree, they shouldn’t be a board member.
  2. Communicate regularly and clearly. One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a board member. “Remember that you live your job every day. We don’t and we forget some of the things you tell us. So, if there is something important you want us to know and learn, keep telling us,” she said. Ergo, regular communication is critical.
  3. Delegate. Your board is there to support you. If you outlined expectations, you should be able to delegate tasks. So, don’t just talk at board meetings. Create action items.
  4. Have a nominating committee. The job of this board-led committee is designed to recommend potential board members with specific skills who will help your organization move forward.
  5. Set term limits. It doesn’t matter how well you implement suggestions 1-4. There will always be board members who aren’t effective. Term limits help you rotate “underperformers” off the board.


Suggestions to board members:

  1. Make a gift! Period, done, end of story. If you are a board member of a nonprofit, you must write an annual check to the organization. Make it meaningful. • Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask. Your question may help the organization run more effectively.
  2. Offer your personal or business expertise. Do you know how to write business plans? Are you an accountant? Do you understand marketing or social media? These skills can greatly benefit a nonprofit.
  3. Don’t just offer suggestions, offer solutions. Smaller nonprofits are often operating at capacity. Provide ideas that will help solve problems without overtaxing the organization. You may have a good idea, but it may be impractical to implement. (i.e. an additional fundraiser may solve the financial issues, but be totally impossible to implement due to limited staff time.)
  4. Be present. Attend meetings, be an active participant and advocate for the charity anywhere you can. Being on a board should not be about status. It is about doing things for the greater good and helping forward the mission of the organization.


Like any relationship, a successful nonprofit/board partnership must be a two-way street. There must be open communication, clear expectations and a shared vision. When this occurs, nonprofits thrive, boards become engaged and the community as a whole benefits.

For additional resources on board development for nonprofits and board members we suggest the following resources:
• Board Source:
• The National Council of Nonprofits: Article on Board Development:
• The Nonprofit Expert: Article on Board Development

1 Jim Collins “Good to Great” multiple references