Resolutions for Fundraisers: 2018 Edition

I love the year-end holidays. Yes, it’s a time of madness, both personally and professionally. But it’s all worth it for what comes next: the new year.

Like a gajillion others, I make resolutions. And I break them. (Exactly now many years has “lose weight” been on my list?

More than resolutions, I love the process of cleaning house. I take down the tree, put the decorations away, and give my home a deep clean.

But beyond that, I like the mental house cleaning, that includes resolutions. I like the act of wiping the slate clean, and making a stab at improving my work and personal life.

In that spirit, fellow fundraisers (and others involved in the meaningful work of nonprofits, I’m pleased to present my second annual Resolutions for Fundraisers.

Let’s get to work.

#1: Don’t let the atrocious Republican tax bill get you down. There are all sorts of predictions of gloom and doom. Some of the analysis that I’ve read quanitifies the number of people who may no longer itemize their deductions. Those analyists then calculate the potential reduction of charitable giving in the United States.

What I think is missing from the conversation is the fact that the charitable tax deduction is not the biggest motivation for people to give. Yes, it’s important for some people, but it’s not the biggest driver. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I don’t think the sky is going to fall.

So resolution #1 is this: keep on telling your organization’s story, demonstrating impact, and inviting people to support your good work…tax bill be damned.

#2: Make January a time to communicate with your donors. If you’ve done your job all throughout the year, your donors already have their gift receipt for their taxes. But why not send another one? Or for those who have given to your organization multiple times during the year, a summary of their contributions. It’s another, perfect moment to thank your donors and to demonstrate who their gifts have made a differenence. Just get the letters out by January 31.

#3: Send acknowledgement letters every day. I think I may have included this in last year’s resolutions, but it’s worth repeating. Make sure you send acknowledgement letters to your donors within 24 to 48 hours of receipt of the gift. Don’t wait until once a week (or heaven forbid, every other week) to send letters out. Every gift is important and deserving of immediate acknowledgement.

#4: Implement or improve your monthly giving program. This one was definitely on last year’s list, but it’s so vital that I’ll probably repeat it every year. If you are not actively promoting monthly giving, you’re leaving money on the table. Check out my previous post on this topic, and make 2018 the year you take on monthly giving head-on.

#5: Engage with one donor in a meaningful way every single day. We all get caught up with meetings, planning events, writing grants, and a whole bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with fundraising. All that is important (well, probably not the other “stuff”), but the most important thing we can do for our organizations is having meaningful contact with someone every day.

Some of you are rolling your eyes. I can see you. But here’s a story to share.

I recently conducted a development assessment for a health-related organization. During our data collection, I noted surprisingly high revenue numbers for major gifts, realized bequests, and new bequest intentions, given the size of the staff. I asked the VP of Development how many front line fundraisers she had during the time period of our study.

“I was the only person,” was her response.

Stunned, I asked her, “How many people do you see during a month’s time.”

She replied, “I try to see two or three people a day.”

Two or three people. There it is. One meaningful encounter a day is do-able. And it will lead to more revenue.

#6: Conduct a thorough assessment of your development program. (This is just a slightly self-serving for my consulting work, but there it is.) A development assessment is like a thorough medical exam. Imagine you haven’t gone to the doctor in 10 years and then one day you wake up and realize what a fool you’ve been.

So you go to the doctor, who asks you a tons of questions. She orders scans, and tests, and labwork. Then she gives you a report of your health, and a treatment plan to fix whatever may ail you.

It’s never a bad time for a check-up, whether its your personal health or your fundraising performance. If you want to learn more about assessments, shoot me an email and I’ll share my Guide to Assessments 2018 Edition.

Glenn is a fundraising strategist who loves working with small- to mid-size organizations that want to innovate and grow. Check out his website at, and to find out how he can help you, email him at You can follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

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