Fall Fundraising Plans

Fall Fundraising Plans


6 September 2022


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


Every year in September, I start thinking about how just about every single member or donor who has given us money in recent memory will be solicited between now and year’s end. The entire year comes down to these next four months.

How many (and WHO) will be solicited in person?

How many (and WHO) will be individually solicited by handwritten card or letter? Or otherwise in a more personal way?

How many (and WHO) will receive form letters with “lift notes” handwritten by board directors or staff? How will that get organized, and when?

How many (and WHO) will be solicited even less personally by letter or email?

And what about the calendar?

Election Day is November 8th – the first week in November in election years is always BAD for solicitation mail. But what kind of chaos do you expect in your state as the voting outcomes get challenged?

Thanksgiving is early this year, with nearly a whole week between Thanksgiving and
December 1.

When will your newsletters drop? (And will they support the appeal?)

When will your e-News arrive? (And how will they support the appeal?)

Do you have appreciation or fundraising events planned? How will those work? How will you get your top donors to attend?

When are your grant proposals due? How about those grant reports?

Board Meetings and Committee Meetings?

Will you send out one appeal letter? Two? Three?

How about “last chance to give” emails the week between Christmas and New Year’s?

Will you make phone calls this year? (Some to say we miss you and some to say thank you.)


There is no magic fairy dust this time of the year. It’s all “elbow grease and shoe leather.” Accountants have March and April. Fundraisers have October, November, and December. It’s the day after Labor Day. Time to roll up our sleeves and go to work. Will you be ready?



Here are FOUR things you can do that will make a difference in your results both this year and in the long term.


Make PLANs. Plural. Make a task level plan for every activity as if it’s the only thing you have to do. Due dates. Work plans. Appeals, events, phone calls – all of it.

Then put it all together as a single timeline and look for the bottlenecks. Back the tasks up as necessary until the bottlenecks smooth themselves out. You still have time to write a killer fundraising letter (See One way to Tackle Writing an Appeal Letter), but not if you wait until Thanksgiving to start.


Build in the follow-up. (See Follow-through and Follow-up.) Events aren’t over that night. Build in time to express your gratitude for those who came, your regret that others couldn’t come, and your appreciation for the event sponsors. And do so right away. Have a date already picked out for your 2023 event and ask your sponsors to commit NOW for that event.


Make a list of donors who gave money last year but who have not yet given money this year. As they begin to give, cross them off one by one. Organize a strategy meeting for the middle of December to formally review that list. Make it a Board activity or at least a Development Committee activity. What have they seen from us already? What might they need to see? Would a phone call help? (Not a solicitation call per se, but rather a call to draw their attention to your letter.)


Pay attention to your acknowledgement protocol. Everybody know what to do? Thank-you letters should go out within 48 hours. How will that get done? What about more personal notes or cards? From board directors? Is there a threshold for making phone calls? One organization I like a lot calls EVERY DONOR regardless of gift amount. If you adopt this idea – and I DO recommend it! – prepare an index card for callers to use. On one side is a script to read for voice mail machines. On the other side are three talking points to use when someone answers the phone.



Just about every single member or donor who has given money in recent memory will be solicited between now and year’s end. Will you be ready?


Cheers, and Have a great week!




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.


Photo by Tatyana Fyodorova courtesy of Pixabay.


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