Outlook for Year-End Fundraising: A Letter from Gail Perry

Dear fundraising leader –

The giving season is upon us!

There are lots of reasons to be optimistic for this year-end. So don’t hold back – because the giving environment is extremely positive right now.

Here are giving trends that will help your organization ride to a higher year-end goal.

The US Stock Market Keeps Hitting Record Highs

Many of your donors are probably feeling wealthy, since they may be sitting on highly appreciated stock portfolios. The state of the stock market bodes well for your year-end goal, because when donors “feel” wealthy, they are typically more generous.

I recently read that the overall wealth for affluent households has increased by 20% just in the last year and a half. Yes, the wealthy have additional funds for this year-end giving season.

Just imagine, your major gift and leadership annual fund donors are sitting on investments that have grown significantly over the past few years. Yes, you have donors who are sitting on investments that have grown significantly over the past few years. So you might say they have “paper profits” – profits that are quite sizable.

Be alert for the potential for a gift of stock, because when donors make gifts from their assets rather than their living expenses, those gifts tend to be higher than cash gifts. And, smart donors know the significant tax benefits they can receive for making gifts of stock.

Don’t forget that your big opportunity for mega year-end gifts is to seek gifts of stock.

Donors’ Hearts Seem to Be More Open Than Ever

With the pandemic, we saw a trend of more donors stepping up to help their favorite causes with more generous gifts. It seemed like many donors’ hearts were opened.

In the past year and a half, the media has emphasized community needs, and featured people and organizations impacted by the pandemic. All sorts of issues that needed attention and funding came to the forefront.

This year, because of all this media attention, and the great stories you are telling about your work, donors seem to be more aware of community needs. Reading about the plight of many people during the pandemic has caused many donors to want to give back.

We think donors are emotionally primed to give this year end. Remember, decisions are made emotionally, and then justified with logic. All the research on fundraising continues to point to emotions as the top trigger for the gift decision.

Among our own capital campaign clients, we saw more gifts flowing to all sorts of causes. The organizations that were telling emotional stories clearly really did see increased returns.

A New Skill: Engaging with Donors on Zoom

When the pandemic first hit, most major gift fundraisers felt hamstrung by the new situation they were in. Gone were the donor dinners, VIP events, board meetings, private lunches – all our highly favored opportunities to nurture major donor relationships.

Many smart fundraisers faced the situation and floundered. They asked us: with our traditional donor engagement opportunities gone, how would we connect with our donors? What formats would we use?

As a result, many fundraisers had to learn a new skill: Directly engaging with donors on Zoom. Hint: this is a key major gift fundraising skill they should be mastering anyway!

At Gail Perry Group, we’ve focused much of our training and coaching in the past year helping fundraisers learn new virtual skills with donors. They’ve learned how to create rewarding digital experiences for their donors, nurture important donor relationships and actually move forward to discuss gifts with donors.

All these new skills bode well for year-end fundraising and beyond. Smart fundraisers will be able to close major gifts for the year-end – without even leaving their office or home. They’ll be more efficient, more effective, and donors will probably feel more engaged than ever.

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