Annual End-of-Year Reminders – 2021

Annual End-of-Year Reminders – 2021


14 December 2021


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


Tomorrow is the 15th of December. Which means that today is the day for an annual reminder that all fundraisers should be available all week this week for the people you serve. Hopefully, this is all review!

Sorry about that.


Let’s say that it’s December 30th. I’m a donor who wants to give a gift of stock. And I’m a procrastinator, so I decided to go to my SO’s office party earlier this month instead of taking care of business. And I wake up to this fact at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I could make this gift to any one of three charities.

So, I call your office.

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

OR –

I’m spending this week revising my will and would like to leave part of it to the land trust. My lawyer says I need the legal name and address of each charity.

So, I call your office.

OR –

I just bought a new truck, and I’m interested in donating my current F-150 to the land trust. I wonder if the land trust can accept a gift of a truck?

So, I call your office.


Is anybody there?


The answer should be YES! Being there for your members and donors is job number 1 for fundraisers. And that explicitly includes executive directors who don’t have other development staff.

It goes without saying doesn’t it?

In fact, consider sending out an email to you member/donor list that suggests that you are extending your hours this year to better serve their needs.


This year, New Years Day is on a Saturday. That means someone (you?) needs to be in the office all week – Monday through Friday – picking up the mail and answering the phone. (Take a week in February off instead!)

The last two years have been so different in so many ways. Everyone gets that. (What does being “in the office” even mean this year?)

Doesn’t matter. Figure out a way to still be available.


And it’s still true that most of the time the phone won’t ring. Most of the time no one will be looking for information about how to donate a truck. It can be a lonely week. You’re going to need other stuff to do.


So here are several other things you might plan for:


Send out follow-up emails.

Recent research indicates that nearly 40% of all online giving occurs between Christmas and New Years (compared with about 4% on Giving Tuesday). Explicitly reference the story and/or imagery in the appeal and remind people that there is still time to make a gift in 2021. I saw one social service group had good results emailing on the 27th, the 30th, and the 31st – all three.


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” acknowledgement 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 2022.


Call other people, too.
  • Former board members,
  • Field trip leaders or other volunteers who help you work effectively with donors,
  • Donors or donor prospects whom you have not “touched” in some time,
  • A mentor, a teacher, someone whose presence made a difference for you this year,
  • Someone you need to thank.
  • Someone who might need you.


Say Happy New Year! Say thank you. Tell them that you were thinking of them. Share.


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 at least your board members and major donor files. 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.


Update your institutional donor files.

For foundations and businesses, request current annual reports and replace the ones you have been keeping with more current copies. Verify all their grant deadlines and note any interesting personnel changes and/or grants they are promoting.


Make a plan to promote planned giving more in 2022.

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?

See also:

Three Basic Steps, and Three Enhancements, for Your Planned Giving Program

Coronavirus and Fundraising – Planned Giving


That should keep you busy.


Happy Holidays!




Photo by HOerwin56 courtesy of Pixabay.


PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.



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  • Carol M Abrahamzon
    Posted at 08:07h, 15 December

    If you can’t be in the office have your calls transferred to your phone and then you are available all of the time.

    • David Allen
      Posted at 09:26h, 15 December

      Right – Just remember to turn your phone on!

      The point isn’t about where you are physically. It’s about being available so that someone can reach you if they want to make a gift. And to some extent, it’s about using that time between Christmas and New Years to reach out as well.

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Julia F Landstreet
    Posted at 11:57h, 14 December

    Question, not directly related to today’s post. My husband and I support a number of non-profits (schools, conservation, social services) and we have received many end-of-year solicitations formatted on a folded note card, as though it was an invitation or a greeting card. Just curious what prompted the trend away from a letter.

    • David Allen
      Posted at 13:25h, 14 December


      Thank you so much for writing!

      I haven’t seen this type of cards here and I’m not aware of a “trend.” However, as a guess, I do know that everyone is trying to stand out a bit more in the mail. Mailing an appeal in an odd shape or in an odd format does help the piece stand out. And if doing so gets a few more people to pay attention, and if a few more of those end up responding, it will have been worth it.

      Personally, I would not use that form for an initial appeal letter, or at least without testing it. I might use it for renewal letters or for reminder appeal letters.