50 Things You Can Still Do Before Year-End

50 Things You Can (Still) Do Before Year-End

In a FONK (Fear of Not Knowing) about your Covid-19 year-end fundraising? Here is a check list of 50 things you can still do before year-end (actually, it’s more than 70) to make your year-end fundraising appeals more successful.

Lori Overmyer, Executive VP of GoettlerAssociates has developed a fun and fast-paced seminar on this topic (and now webinar) over the past few years. And, she has thoroughly updated and expanded the year-end checklist for our pandemic-wracked lives We hope this provides you with the inspiration to strive toward greater impact in these next two crucial months of a very unusual year.

Countdown to December 31 2020

  • 56 days and counting . . .
  • You still have time to make an impact!

The Sky Is Dark, But Not Falling

  • Lessons from the Great Recession
    • Households who give, give consistently even in adverse times
    • 2007-2010: many people did not stop giving; dollars decreased but percentage of Households giving did not
    • KEEP FUNDRAISING! Giving is a habit.

It’s (Still) All About the Data

  • Run your LYBUNT and SYBUNT reports – don’t miss anyone
  • Add salutations and SEGMENT
  • Run the Fundraising Fitness Test using 2019 as your baseline year –afpfep.org


  • Adjust and hone your messages to acknowledge Covid-19
    • How they are doing
    • How you are doing
    • What you are doing
  • Remind your donors of their philanthropic intent while recognizing changes may have occurred
  • Your story of impact and what their donations make possible for the community is more important than ever
  • Collect stories to show the continued relevance of your organization
    • Personalize and bring it home
  • Connect (frequently) with those you serve
  • Integrate your stories through all platforms (channels)
  • Everything you are thinking goes with you;  tone is critical
    • Empathy
    • Understanding
    • Superior listening
  • Humor wins the day
  • A great time to find out what your organization means to your donors- ASK THEM!
  • Communicate how donor gifts made a difference before you ask
    • 72% of donors say that impact and results are very important factors in deciding to give – it is still true!
  • Use technology
    • Zoom (of course)
    • Try live streaming
  • Year-at-a-Glance
    • Let them know the bright spots
    • Mail is making a comeback!
  • Increased transparency
  • Have a laser-focused donor message, based in fact, not speculation
    • What revenues are in
    • What you expect to bring in and sources
    • What you predict will/will not come in
    • What is the gap?



  • Giving Tuesday – do it!
  • Send digital solicitation communications to non-respondents the last 4 days of the year
    • Suppress those who already gave
    • Did you miss any thank yous? Mea Culpa with sincerity
  • Use RAP Sheets (Relationship Advancement Program)
    • Write down what you will be saying to donors in an organized fashion
  • Plan a RAP sheet action and partner for every month
    • People will give more when they believe they matter and even more when they decide they matter
  • Test your messages
  • Multi-channel
  • Integrate giving options
    • Links in direct mail
    • Donate Now buttons
    • Matching/Challenge/Stock Gifts
    • CARES Act 2020 Tax change
  • Board giving at 100% !
  • Add a personal P.S. to solicitation letters
  • Hand-address envelopes
  • Do a handwritten ask
  • Send a note with a picture of a program recipient
  • Personal follow-up
  • Mobilize your volunteers through a peer-to-peer campaign
    • Empower friends and family
  • Hone your messages for each segment
    • Same
    • Upgrade
    • Downgrade
    • Lapsed
  • Make the most of every day – 40% of all gifts are contributed between October and December
  • Don’t drag in December
    • The average person makes 24% of his/her donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s
    • Donors who don’t give until December give 52% more
  • Not a time to fake it till you make it
    • Know exactly what you want
    • When you want it
    • Why you and Why now
    • What it will do
    • Who else you are asking
    • A follow-up that summarizes the conversation
    • Set up the next meeting
  • Show up as your best true and authentic self
  • Don’t “fill in the blanks” for donors
  • Ditch the “never before” comparisons
  • Make the ask the donor’s idea 
    • Questions focused on the donor
    • 75% donor talking 25% you
    • Total listening mode with undistracted eye contact
    • Load up on answers to key questions
  • People want to be heard and they want to help you!
    • Plain – Quick – Truthful


  • Adopt a forward-thinking sensibility
  • Adapt to the current situation (now lasting much longer than we thought)
  • Improve your development practices, every day
  • DONE is better than PERFECT
  • Be on the path of remedy, not reaction
    • What policies would have helped you at this time?
    • What programs/events/committees can you bless and release?
  • Hold an Annual Meeting
  • Conduct a Board 360 assessment
    • Board
    • Self
    • Chair
    • Include staff feedback
  • Conduct a year-end review of departmental milestones
    • Be honest about the highs and lows
  • Annual Report
    • Consider an infographic
    • Spelling, alphabetize
    • Double-duty for stewardship
  • Vow not to go back to “same old”
  • Kick the tires on your mission and vision
  • A great time for a strategic plan (in two parts)
  • Review your IDEA Policy
    • Don’t have one? Top of the list for 2021


  • Nonprofits that develop a dedicated and strategic campaign to engage donors experience growth in giving
  • Get your development plan ready for this time next year – SMART goals – you still need them
  • Critique and improve your virtual fundraiser and learn from others
  • Prepare 2021 tax letters
    • Separate from donor thank you
  • 2020 was tough, 2021 may be tougher – find the baseline that makes sense
  • A confused development director doesn’t ask, a confused donor doesn’t give – communicate your plan!

Final Thoughts

  • Brace yourself: Every week there is and will be a new report
  • Where do you see your best future and what do you need to achieve it?
  • Get the mail! (Seriously)
  • Recharge your batteries as much and as often as you can
  • Accept what you can and cannot control
  • Work to stay positive
    • My work has real impact
    • Donors get real impact from giving
    • It feels good to invest
    • There’s joy in giving back
    • People love to give me money
  • Don’t believe your own press
  • Remember your co-workers
  • This is a time of forced opportunity

Good Luck! We hope this check list of actions and tactics you can still do to have a successful year-end is helpful. If you have a question, just give us a call. GoettlerAssociates has been helping clients raise more of their true philanthropic potential for 55 years. Stay safe, wash your hands, call fundraising counsel, we know things will get better, and we’re confident you will have the best year-end possible!

Recent Blog Posts: