This the Busiest Time of the Year

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    Are you ready for the December rush? As ready as you should be? This is an important time of year for nonprofits as well as individuals and it needs focused attention on so many things. There are year-end programming events and fundraising things to do. But you can always do more. There are some easy things to do that may just go a long way.

    I am writing this on the so-called “Cyber Monday” – the Monday after Thanksgiving. Sales today are expected to top $1.5 Billion – 20% more than last year. I believe it. I find that although I have purchased things online for years I shop this way much more frequently than I used to. It’s kind of nice to have things delivered to your door. This is also true with charitable giving. What this means for most nonprofits is that it is a good investment to greatly improve their internet savvy. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t get in the fast lane in just a few weeks. You can, however, do a few simple things to enhance your online presence and fundraising results without spending a lot of time or money. It is so much easier to make a donation online than respond to direct mail and this is the age of convenience.

    I am recovered from cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd and in the next two weeks I will facilitate a Board Retreat and be an “Expert” at the New Jersey Center for Nonprofits Annual symposium. I have started my Christmas shopping including some special gifts bought at the annual Newark Museum Shopping Spree. I even got up early on Black Friday and bought a new laptop. Desperately needed – my old one said enough already.

    December has so many “Must Dos” that sometimes I feel I am in constant motion. This is true for nonprofits too. You probably have your annual direct meal appeal out and are beginning to process the returns, your Fall fundraising event is behind you and plans for year-end festivities for those you serve are underway. Enough on your plate? All done – NOT!

    There is that other group that needs attention in December. They are your online “supporters” (supporters may or may not be donors yet) who you only have contact with online. They may check out your website without you even knowing it. They may like your page on Facebook but never post a comment. They may google something -your name comes up – and they browse your website. They may be checking out your name because they heard you provided food or a warm place to recharge their cell phones during Sandy.

    So the question is what will they see? Do you have a holiday and current news on your homepage or a report – without a picture – of an event last April? Is your Donate Now button right there on the homepage or three clicks away? Are you ready to post on Facebook throughout December – not just asking for donations but with program updates and a link to your donate page?

    I could keep on writing about what you should do in December but I’ll keep it simple. Keep these facts in mind: 40% of all individual donations are made in December. 22% of online giving is done in the last two days of the year and the biggest day of the year for online giving is New Year’s Eve. So here are just three easy things that you can still do before year-end:

    1. Update your home page with recent pictures, news, and year-end planned activities
    2. Plan on sending an eNewsletter – brief – one topic and brief appeal in the next couple of weeks
    3. Write a brief eNewsletter – the key word here is BRIEF with one topic only- news or a year-end activity to be sent on December 29-30th. You can write it now and queue it to be mailed then so even if you are on vacation it will go out.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Nonprofit Capacity Building.