Plan Your Giving Season Budget [Free Template]

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Use Your Data and Industry Benchmarks for More Success

There’s a good chance that you’re responsible for fundraising – but that’s not your only job.

I see this often with our clients. Because of staff turnover or priority shifts, fundraising often falls to the executive director or a staff person in the communications/marketing area.

This model can work fine for a while, especially if that person can manage both the left-brain and right-brain tasks of fundraising. But it does have its drawbacks.

Budgeting for Giving Season is one of these. Why?


Pull your data for accurate projections

When you’re multitasking, you may not be in your donor database every day. This means you may find it challenging to pull metrics like average gift size and the response rates to your donation letters or emails this year.

And you need these data points to make accurate projections for the most profitable time of year.

Our free Giving Season Budget Template can help you with that forecast. Use it along with our Fundraising Self-Audit to get a pre-populated Giving Season plan that you can customize with your data and preferences. We already programmed the formulas you need into the cells!

And don’t worry. You still have a couple months to get your data house in order before Giving Season. If you need help, feel free to reach out to our team.

Use industry benchmarks as a backup

Using your own data is ideal, but something is better than nothing, right?

That’s why our template comes populated with the current industry benchmarks for donation letters and email. These are the tactics that fundraisers told us they use the most for Giving Season – though you can add any tactic and benchmark you want to the template.

With these numbers, you can get an idea of whether your draft Giving Season plan is likely to pay off. Or whether you need to readjust your list size (reach), number of appeals (frequency), or the channels you use.

With the template you can see the effect that changing each one of these variables will have on your end result.

Seek strong internal support

I know this template may seem a little basic, but basic is good. Basic gets done.

And that means you’ll have time to explain and build support for your plan internally. This is a critical part of any campaign.

If your nonprofit’s leadership understands what you’re doing and why, then they’ll be less likely to spring surprise goal increases on you. (It’s not a total guarantee, but a strong plan driven by real data can help.)

And if your co-workers understand, then they may volunteer to help you at critical points during Giving Season. It always helps to have more hands to write thank you letters, fix website bugs and process vendor payments.

We know it can be lonely as a fundraiser, whether you have that title or not. That’s especially true as you get closer to the end of the year.

But with a little help from your team and our template, you can stay on track toward your goals and achieve even more success.



Laura Ingalls is CEO of Abeja Solutions and co-creator of Beezable, a tool that automates direct mail fundraising. She’s produced for CNN, served as a humanitarian spokesperson in Iraq and led award-winning nonprofit and corporate communications teams. Read more from Laura.


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