Year-end is a busy time for many advancement shops: a season of giving with a deadline for taxes! For many of us, it’s also a season of reflection on the year we’re ending and the new one ahead.

Fundraisers can use this mindfulness to their advantage in ways both practical and reflective. While you’re working through this busy season, keep in mind this checklist to end 2018 well and set you up for success in 2019.

  • Get in front of as many donors as possible. Messages of generosity are all around them, as are considerations of tax issues. You want to be front-of-mind, and able to offer giving solutions that help address tax concerns. This week is an excellent time to take advantage of a slower calendar by reaching out to prospects and donors, either via the phone, email or in person!
  • As you go through your portfolio to make this outreach, take a critical eye to your portfolio. Are there individuals who are nice, but just aren’t going to make the gift? Who haven’t responded to continued attempts at outreach? Make room for new names and new opportunities.
  • Freshen any templates you use, and keep in mind that using plain language will come across as more authentic than “development speak” (e.g. “We want to get to know our alumni and your experiences” versus “We’ve launched an initiative to engage alumni”).
  • Look at your January calendar — have you blocked off time for the most important work you do? If you don’t usually block time for prospect outreach, the new year is the perfect time to start this strategy to keep focus on what matters most.
  • Create a thoughtful out-of-office message. This sounds obvious, but this message is an opportunity to be warm, engaging, and make a potential donor feel they can receive any answers they need to make a gift quickly.
  • Reflect. What has been working for you? Where are there opportunities to strengthen your skills? What would you like to try differently? Honest self reflection is critical to growth and true success, and there’s no time like the present to take stock.

What do you do to end your year well and start the new year strong?

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday break and a wonderful New Year!

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