Five great ways to end your year on an up note

publication date: Nov 17, 2020

Somehow when we weren't looking it has become November. And that means we are already into the two most important fundraising months of the year. 

If you are feeling behind, there is still time. Here are five ways to boost your year-end.

Run your LYBUNT list and start calling

This is a classic but that's because it works. Run your list of donors who gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not This  (LYBUNT) year and sort by largest gift. 

Step one is to take a look at your top twenty gifts. Are they all in progress? If not, book some time in your calendar this week and try to set up coffee dates to renew their support.

After you have conquered that group, keep going to the next twenty. And the next twenty. It works.

Ask for a pledge

While you are calling and doing a Zoom meeting with your top donors, ask them to make a pledge. Whether it is $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000, ask them to give at that level for the next 3 years. I find donors often will agree to 2 years. Clearly the economy will not improve soon so you are asking them to stay with you for the longer run.

This won't help much this year but next year will be great - and even if you are short this year, if you are able to tell your Board "we have $x in pledges for next year," they may be more forgiving of a shortfall this year.

Find an accountability partner 

This is a great idea I learned a few years ago at AFP Congress from Amy Eisenstein. Find a colleague from another institution and set 3 simple professional goals each week. Then once a week, you call each other for no longer than 10 minutes and report. In an era where we all have short attention spans, this is a great way to stay focused.

Hire some consulting time

This year has been completely upside-down. Consultants have deep subject matter expertise plus they are talking to charities from coast to coast to coast. They have a finger on the pulse of trends. A few hundred dollars can make a huge difference.

Keep doing professional development

One of the research findings released in a study by Amy Eisenstein, Dr. Adrian Sargeant, and Dr. Rita Kottasz in 2018 was that ongoing professional development in person is highly correlated to major gift success for organizations that raise $5,000,000 a year or less.  We can't be in person these days but there is a wealth of fantastic conferences like AFP Congress or the many high quality webinars happening that will help you keep upping your game. Best of all, everything these days is free or highly discounted.

It is close to year-end but there is still time to make your budget (or get closer). Consulting help, professional development, an accountability partner, pledges, and LYBUNTs are your quickest keys to success.

Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE is an award-winning professional  who has been helping donors, volunteers, Boards, and neighbours make good decisions about charity for over 20 years. She is the principal for "Charitably Speaking" providing expert advice, interim leadership, and project support to nonprofits in areas including governance, strategic planning, fundraising, and nonprofit management. She has served as the Executive Director of a foundation with a staff of 2 and has also worked in a large, national charity with a staff of 1,000. In her spare time, she serves on the Board of Rainbow Railroad and volunteers with several local charities. She can be reached at or via her blog at

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