Bring it home: Fiscal year-end campaigns

April 22, 2015

A fiscal year-end campaign can be a powerful tool in your fundraising toolbox. Yet it can sometimes be a challenge to effectively sell it to your donors because a “fiscal year-end” is about your organization – it’s about “us,” not about them. The strongest fundraising happens when it’s all about the impact your donor can have.

To be truly effective then, the tone of a strong fiscal year-end campaign should be urgent, timely and specific, not desperate, needy and concerned.

This campaign isn’t about the organization’s need to meet its goal, it’s rather about the community’s ability and responsibility to ensure that the valuable services your organization provides continue – and that happens when the goal is met.

This is about being confident and crystal clear about what you want, why you want it, and when you want it. It’s about making a bold, but brief case pitch… clearly stating the situation and timing… asking strongly and directly for a contribution… and building credibility and a future vision through powerful impact statements.

When it comes to campaigns like this, it’s essential to remember that unless you face a dire situation – an actual threat to the organization’s future, which is rare – that truly effective fundraising is about funding the possibilities for the future, not paying off the debts of the past.

Particularly if you’re not yet at goal, be cautious about talk regarding a shortfall. While it may make you feel better, and it may inspire a handful of “saviors” to take action, it will likely raise more questions than inspire gifts. “Why is there a shortfall? Are they doing something wrong? Do not enough people care? If no one else is donating maybe I shouldn’t either.” You can see how this message can easily take a donor’s mind to a place you don’t want it to go.

Be true to the reason you are asking for these funds:

“To raise the funds that will allow this organization to provide even more service in the year to come.”

“To enable this organization to serve our community in the unique ways you’ve come to count on.”

“To make sure that the people who need this organization most will still have somewhere to turn.”

Use fiscal year-end timing to your advantage, but as you do:

Stay strong. Stay urgent. Stay positive. Stay successful.

  • A version of this post was originally published by Greater Public, providing nationwide fundraising and marketing leadership in public media.