Hey fundraisers and non-profit managers – did I ever tell you the one about the $100,000 gift my organization received at 11:00 pm on New Year’s Eve?
I didn’t? Probably because it never happened. But it could. And that’s what I always try to be prepared for. You should too — because hey, you never know!
The odds of a major gift falling in our lap on New Year’s Eve, as the donor rushes to avoid some kind of tax consequence or other calendar-related deadline, are pretty slim. It’s much more likely that someone would like to make a $25, $100 or even a $1,000 contribution — just because they wanted to. What’s important is that we make it easy for the donor, no matter what the size of the gift or their intention, to give whenever they want to give.
There are two rules I try to follow every New Year.
(1) Keep the office open up to and including December 31, even if for only a half day. There may not be a lot going on, so use the time to catch up on filing or paperwork. But a presence may mean something.
(2) And when the office is closed in the days up to New Year’s Eve, make sure to leave a cell phone number on the voicemail greeting along with a message that includes something like this,
“Thank you for calling XYZ Charity! We’re not available to take your call right now, but your support is important to us! If you’d like to make a year-end gift you may do so right now by visiting our secure Donation page on the Web at XYZCharity dot org. If you’d like to mail a check and get credit for a 2016 contribution, your postmark of December 31 or earlier is all that’s needed. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us by cell anytime at 716-555-1212.”
People give for many reasons, and when people give is more up to the multitude of variables in their lives than when they are asked.
Will a major gift fall into your lap while you’re getting ready to toast 2017? Probably not. But what would it hurt to make sure all the pieces are in place so it could?
And think about how good your champagne would taste if it did!