I know, on the surface, it seems like “The Grinch” has arrived to steal Christmas by making a statement like this. It is especially egregious if the not-for-profit organization you work for is faith based. However, if you are concerned at all about stewardship, you must have your development team recognize that the last 10 days of December are the biggest financially for the entire year. Many not-for-profits do not get out of the red until the last few days of the year.
You must be there for your donors!
Donation receipts must still be processed within 48 hours. Major donors, especially, need to be called and thanked as soon as their yearend gifts arrive. I am amazed and offended at the number of development departments that simply close down between Christmas and New Years. HUGE MISTAKE!!!
Stay open through the holidays. Have at least a few major gift officers in the office that can be making clean-up calls to donors that haven’t given yet this year and thank you calls to donors who make large year-end contributions. They’ll also be available for those last minute calls from donors who want to make gifts of stocks or other assets before year-end.
It is critical that your donation processing proceed on schedule. Delaying gift processing until after the New Year is a critical mistake. If you are doing things right, more donations will arrive to your not-for-profit’s door during the last week of the year, than the previous 4 to 6 weeks combined. If you delay processing acknowledgement and thank you letters, rest assured, it is going to cost your organization real money in second gifts from the receipting program.
Speed is a critical strategy during the Holidays!
Bottom line, if you include a reply envelop and crank out the thank you within 24 hours of the gift, 1 out of 5 will send a second check. For every 24 hours you delay the receipting… you are going to drop the response rate.
24 hours 20% response rate (for every 100 gifts… that equals 20 extra gifts)
72 hours 15% response rate
120 hours (5 days) 7% response rate
168 hours (7 days) 4% response rate
336 hours (14 days) 1% response rate
Every receipt must be processed, but if you can use “speed as a strategy” you can create a revenue stream instead of a cost center. If you take off or slack off during the last few weeks of the year you will forfeit critical future revenue and turn your acknowledgement process into a cost center, instead of a huge revenue generator.
Excellent post! Questions:
Where do your response rates come from (research, reports, etc.)?
Do you think this strategy is more effective for different segments of donors over others?
Why do you think donors are motivated to give a second gift due to fast thank-you turnarounds during the year-end time?