Find Your Fundraising Fit for Giving Season [Free Guide]

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Use a Self Audit to Measure Your Fundraising Operations

Some things in your closet fit better than others.

Wearing them gives you confidence. And experts say you tend to wear this 20 percent of your wardrobe 80 percent of the time.

The same idea applies to your fundraising program. There are activities that you have the skill and will to do, either in-house or with some outside help. That consistency makes a huge difference to donors.

What’s your fundraising development level?

And then there are things that aren’t such a great fit. Maybe it’s an activity that a board member saw another, very different nonprofit do. Or maybe it’s that one fundraising fad that keeps popping up at every nonprofit conference.

But you just know that’s just not a good fit for where you are right now as an organization.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals has detailed research that can help you gauge where your fundraising operation is today, and what activities they recommend you do at your level.

For example, AFP reserves capital campaigns for the most advanced levels – once an organization masters activities like direct mail, online giving, events and major gifts.

The report is a great resource, but it’s not exactly light reading.

Quick guide to fundraising levels

To save you time, the Abeja team created a one-page Fundraising Self Audit. The audit considers 5 factors: organizational structure, internal and external resources, measurement and culture of philanthropy.

It’s unlikely that your nonprofit will land squarely in one level.

But we hope you’ll recognize a pattern in your fundraising operations and get some ideas about what to focus on next if you want to level up.

That’s the longer term fit. However, over 60 percent of the nonprofit professionals who took our recent survey said they start planning their Giving Season campaigns in July and August.

You need something practical to use NOW.

Get your Ultimate Giving Season Checklist

To help, we paired our audit with a free guide to crushing your year-end goals at any level.

The Ultimate Giving Season Checklist offers month-by-month suggestions on tasks to complete to increase the success of your individual giving campaign. There’s a checklist to match each level identified by the self-audit. Plus, you can fully customize yours using the accompanying Project Plan/Gantt chart.

Each checklist covers things like:

  • Cleaning and expanding your donor data

  • Improving your donation page

  • Sending timely emails

  • Executing successful donation letters

  • And staying on track toward your goals

Check off everything on our list and you’ll be top of mind for donors during the most charitable time of the year.

Note that our guide does not cover social media or other forms of advertising. This is primarily because those activities tend to have far lower average returns than the core tactics we recommend.

And most of the folks we meet don’t struggle to execute social in the way they do with higher stakes channels like email and year-end appeals.

But certainly consider how your existing social media and ads can support your year-end cadence of donation letters and email. That gives donors even more choices about how and where they give.

The most important thing is that you find the right mix of channels – the perfect fit – that works for your donors. Because a good fit will mean more confidence and success for your team.



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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