Planning for Year-End

Planning for Year-End


By David Allen, Development for Conservation

Happy Holidays everybody! I hope that the season finds you warm and comfortable, surrounded by family and good food.

I spent the past week sending out Holiday messages to land trust friends and clients all over the country. A lot of them by email. And I was impressed by the number of emails that came back right away with Out-of-Office replies. It reminded me of a post that I wrote in2015.


It is still relevant today, so I’ve reprinted it, only slightly updated, here.


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Let’s say that I’m a donor who wants to give a gift of stock. And I’m a procrastinator, so I decided to go to my wife’s office party instead of taking care of business. And I wake up to this fact at about 2:30 Friday afternoon the 29th.

So I call your office.

Will anyone be there who can answer my questions? Will anyone be there to even answer the phone?

The answer should be YES to both questions.

Being there for your members and donors is job number 1 for fundraisers. It goes without saying, doesn’t it?

This year, both Christmas and New Years land on Mondays. That means someone (you?) needs to be in the office next Tuesday through Friday next week, picking up the mail and answering the phone. Here are several other things you might plan to do:

  • Assuming you got your appeal mail out the door, the last few days in December are a great time to send out follow-up emails. Explicitly reference the story and/or imagery in the appeal and remind people that there is still time to make a gift in 2015. I saw one social service group had good results emailing on the 27th, the 30th, and the 31st – all three. I wouldn’t advocate emailing on Sunday this year, but perhaps Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday?
  • Get personal with your thank you letters. For most organizations, the mail will be fun to open during the last few days in December. The temptation will be to crank out “form” acknowledgment letters. Resist – you have time to do a better job. Make them personal. Tell a story. Hand-write a few. Consider calling a certain number (five?) every day – perhaps based on gift amount, perhaps randomly. Or consider passing along gift information to board members and asking them to call.
  • Call your board members, or fellow board members if you yourself are serving on the board. Tell them how much you appreciate their board service this year and how you are looking forward to working with them in 2016.
  • Get your filing done. At least get everything organized that should be in the donor files and the files themselves in the right order in the cabinet. Then read through the files on at least your board members and major donors. Organize the paper in chronological order and shred any redundant copies. For files that are considerably thick, consider summarizing the information on a brightly colored sheet near the front of the file.
  • For foundations and businesses, request current annual reports and replace the ones you have been keeping with more current copies. Verify their grant deadlines and note any interesting personnel changes and/or grants they are promoting.
  • Make a plan to promote planning giving more in 2016. Keep in mind that planned gifts are simply gifts that require planning. A gift of stock is a planned gift under this broad definition. Making a gift of appreciated stock can be very advantageous for the donor. You may believe most donors know all this already, but many do not, or at least aren’t thinking that way. What will you do to help stimulate their creativity?

That should keep you busy.






Photo by Matej courtesy of

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