Why You Should Launch Your End-of-Year Campaign in January And How to Do So

Why You Should Launch Your End-of-Year Campaign in January And How to Do So
By Rabbi Yisroel Brod, Kfar Chabad, Eretz Yisroel

Today is the ideal day to begin planning your end-of-year campaign. Yes, you read correctly. A successful end-of-year must be preceded by a well-planned beginning and middle, so now is the ideal time to get things going.

This article will outline the “when” and “for whom” of various fundraising campaigns that are conducted throughout the year and demonstrate how, when carried out in their appropriate times and with their appropriate constituents, they should b’ezras Hashem lead up to a successful conclusion to the fiscal year.

At the core of it all lie three keys, each of which are crucial to the success of your annual campaign:

  1. Divide your fundraising goal into units and “assign” potential donors to each one
  2. Designate a set season for each fundraising “event”
  3. Devote your time where it pays and sometimes delegate lower-level fundraising projects to others

Let me explain.

Dividing Your Goal Into Units

Dividing your annual fundraising goal into units and “assigning” them to your potential donors prior to conducting any solicitations or fundraising campaigns is the first step in creating your professional fundraising structure.

If your fundraising goal is $180,000, you can divide it into 100 units of $1,800, with each unit equaling one percent of the goal. Similarly, if your fundraising goal is $360,000, you can divide it into 200 units of $1,800, with each unit equaling half a percent of the total goal. No matter the sum of your fundraising goal, it is easiest if you create the equation such that one unit is equivalent to the average amount you can expect your “medium-level” donor to donate during the course of one fiscal year.

Assigning Donors to Each Unit

Once you have divided your fundraising goal into units, create a list of all of your potential donors and write down how many units you think each of them can be realistically solicited to contribute throughout the year. Doing so will enable you to approach a donor and ask him to contribute x amount of units (be it as a one-time payment or divided into installments paid throughout the year) as his portion of a well-built pyramid-like structure.

As a rule, 20 percent (or sometimes 30 percent) of your people will produce 80 percent of the money you need to raise. As such, it is important to spend the first quarter of the fiscal year investing your time into this 20 percent of your potential donors.

If your annual fundraising goal is $180,000, 80 percent of it—$144,000—will be donated by 20 or so percent of your donors. On the other hand, a meager 20 percent of your goal—$36,000—will be raised by a whopping 80 percent of your donors. So, with whom would you like to spend most of your fundraising time at the beginning of the new fiscal year?

An additional advantage of beginning your fiscal year by approaching the “top 20” (the 20 percent of your potential donors who will b’ezras Hashem produce 80 percent of your annual income) is that within a few months of the beginning of the new fiscal year you should have a good part of your budget committed. This will give you the peace of mind to work on reaching out to the half-unit donors as well as new potential unit-donors, and eventually to the lowest level donors as well.

Creating a Presentation

Now that you’ve worked diligently to create a list your potential donors and have identified your “top 20”—and yes, you must create this list and not just say that you know who the potential donors are—here’s the catch: you need to prepare a proper presentation to share with them during your one-on-one meetings. The presentation must show how much money you need to raise, based on a budget you’ve created that is built on real numbers and an impressive breakdown of the programs and activities you provide to the community. Only once you have prepared this presentation can you begin to reach out to this group of potential donors.

Designating a Set Season for Each Fundraising Event

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of the main keys to successful fundraising is your well-structured calendar of “events.” These events are not dinners or auctions but scheduled periods of time when you focus on reaching specific groups of potential donors. Soliciting your “top 20” from January through the end of March is an event. Focusing on the “$600-$900” (one-third to one-half units) from April through June is an event. I suggest that you schedule your annual fundraising “events” as follows:

January-March: Focus on the Potentially Highest-Level Donors

Having your presentation ready for the beginning of the fiscal year will enable you to get a head start on your fundraising. By the end of March you should already have reached out to all your “top 20,” or at least to most of them, and received commitments from those with whom you have actually met, or at least most of them. That being the case, you should already have at least 50 to 70 percent of your budget committed for the fiscal year of 2018. You will likely not have achieved more than that because not all people with whom you will try to schedule meetings will actually give you meetings then. Some people will prefer for you to meet with them in September or closer to the end of the fiscal year. Also, not all people you will have met with will actually have given you their pledge for the year.

While it may be challenging to get your “top 20” to make their commitments at the beginning of the year, investing the effort to make this happen—even if the actual payment will come many months later—will b’ezras Hashem grant you the financial stability you need for the year to come.

The most important ingredient in making this happen is personalized one-on-one cultivation through meaningful meetings and facilitation of growth in Yiddishkeit throughout the year. Most of these people don’t need any fundraising events or other gimmicks. They are giving to you because they believe in you, your vision, your mission, and your goals.

April-June: Focus on the Mid-Level Donors

Once you have successfully completed soliciting most of your “top 20,” who will b’ezras Hashem generate eighty percent of your fundraising goal, you are ready to move on to the next group of potential donors.

If your total fundraising goal is $180,000, your “top 20” consists of those with a potential gift of one or more units ($1,800), and even those who may give anywhere between half a unit and one unit ($900-$1,800). Beginning shortly after Pesach and for the three months that follow, it is time to focus on those who will potentially donate half a unit or one-third of a unit ($600.00–$900.00).

For these donors, I suggest you not use the Chai Club, even at $75.00 or $50.00 a month ($600.00–900.00). This is because you will only receive about half of their respective pledges during the current fiscal year (since they’re starting the 12-month cycle mid-year). Instead, I suggest you ask the donor to commit to half a unit or one-third of a unit, to be given in full during this fiscal year.
During this period of April through June you will also continue to reach out to those of the higher lever donors with whom you were not yet successful in scheduling a one-on-one meeting to solicit them for one or several units.

July-September: Focus on the Lower-Level Donors

The months of July through September should be used to ask people to sponsor a day in your calendar for a gift of $180.00, or to join the Chai Club at $18.00 a month ($216.00), $25.00 a month ($300.00), or $36.00 a month ($432.00). You can also use a raffle to attract those who will give $100.00 or several hundred dollars a year though purchasing raffle tickets at $100.00 apiece.

These months, which are less exciting months with regard to active fundraising from the higher level potential donors, should be focused on accumulating small gifts from many people. This must be done with a plan of identifying several hundred potential donors at this level and working toward reaching each one of them individually. This should not necessarily be done by you personally but with the help of volunteers. Even so, it should be done in a focused manner, with a goal of reaching a specific list of people and acquiring a specific sum of money.

September: High Holiday Fundraising

By the time you have reached September—usually just approaching Rosh Hashanah—you already have most of your fundraising behind you. You have already solicited most of your “top 20” unit donors and you have already solicited most of your potential $600.00–900.00-level donors.

This is a time to reach out to the masses for any amount for your Chabad House, be it through a gift when they receive your calendar or Tishrei Guide, via a suggested gift toward High Holiday seats, a pledge at your Yizkor appeal, or any other form that encourages people to give at any level. (A word of caution: Do not turn your High Holidays into a machine to make money. Be extra sensitive with regard to how you go about raising money during this time of year. Although it is a traditional time of giving, it is also a time when many new Yidden will come to your Chabad House and have no idea that they will be asked to give (again and again). Be sure to remember what is the ultimate purpose of our shlichus and never to do something that may drive someone away.)

October-December: End-of-Year Campaign

After Tishrei, you have another two-and-a-half to three months left of the fiscal year, during which you should plan and conduct your end-of-year campaign.

The end-of-year campaign is meant to help you accomplish the following:

  1. To solicit those in the “top 20” who, for whatever reason, you did not succeed in reaching. If you can’t schedule a face-to-face meeting, make the solicitation by phone. You can send your presentation by email before doing so.
  2. To collect the pledges made by those in the “top 20” who may not have finished paying their commitment for the year.
  3. To reach out to all those who did contribute during past years but did not at all do so this year.
  4. To solicit the parents whom you are serving via your Hebrew School, preschool, teen programming, or Torah classes who have not contributed this year.
  5. And, finally, to reach out to the entire community at large to try to bring in new donors.

An “end-of-year” campaign is not meant to be used as simply a gimmick through which to solicit all of your donors, and specifically not to solicit the “top 20” donors who already made a commitment for the year. You can inform your “top 20” of all the campaigns you are about to launch, but this should be done in a manner of sharing information with them as partners, letting them know what’s happening. If, on their own, they decide to contribute to any of the campaigns, accept their gifts with appreciation. At no point should any donor who is contributing one or more units (or even half a unit) be directly solicited for any of your other campaigns.

Now that you understand what the end-of-year campaign is all about, you also realize how much work you have ahead of you in order to be able to launch it successfully.

The outcome of your year-long efforts will, to a certain degree, serve as the determining factor of your primary focus during your end-of-year campaign. If it turns out that you were unsuccessful in reaching many of your “top 20” potential donors throughout the year, and you believe that with intense efforts and some creativity you will indeed be able to reach them now, your campaign will look very different than one designed to attract completely new donors.

In most cases, an end-of-year campaign will not exclusively focus on one group of potential donors. Rather, it will target all the groups listed above. What should, however, be determined is where most of the effort should be invested, as well as where you should invest most of your time.

This brings me to my next point.

Devoting Your Time Where It Pays and Delegating as Needed

As the executive director and rabbi of your organization, your fundraising time has to mostly be spent with the potential “top 20” donors—that’s where the money is. Beyond that, you should also be the one to solicit the half-unit and even one-third-unit donors. In addition to the fact that there is a lot of money there, some or hopefully many of those donors will become full unit donors down the road.

While it is a good thing to have someone go distribute pushkas to people and then collect them when they are full, this is not something you should be doing. Similarly, fundraising events to raise 20 percent of your budget via the remaining 80 percent of your people should not be done directly by you. Rather, you should activate others to get involved and do the work that is necessary to make the campaigns succeed, regardless of what those campaigns may be.

Suppose, for example, that you’d like to launch a community-wide mishloach manos project, which has become a rather successful fundraiser over the last few years.

  1. The potential “top 20” should not be solicited. They should merely be informed of this project as a news update.
  2. You should not be directly involved in planning or running this campaign.
  3. You should work behind the scenes to get lots of volunteers on board, unless your wife is running this campaign, in which case you should let her decide whether she needs or wants your help.

What about other events? Be it a dinner, concert, Chinese auction, or anything else, ask yourself and your close community members the following questions in order to help you determine which event, if any, you should conduct:

  1. Is the main purpose of this event money, Yiddishkeit, or general PR?
  2. What group of potential donors is this event targeting?
  3. Who is going to be the “father” of this event, taking full responsibility for it?
  4. Who are the people who will be investing time in making this event a success?
  5. Is there enough time from when you decide to conduct the event until the date of the event in order to make it achieve its goal?
  6. What are you going to have to give up or downsize by doing this event?
  7. And, the most important question of all: Will the investment of time, money, manpower, energy, and focus be worthwhile? Will the net gain not have been possible to obtain through “conventional fundraising”?

Once you have answered these questions (and others), you will be able to determine whether this is an event you should be launching, as well as when it should be scheduled to take place.

As you can see or guess, I am not a big fan of events that cost a lot of money, take up a lot of time, involve a lot of people, and whose financial return may be less than desirable. Focus on face-to-face direct solicitation, create good and meaningful relationships with people, work on bringing them closer to Yiddishkeit and Chassidishkeit, and b’ezras Hashem you will see much success.

For clarification purposes, there is place for an organization to have a dinner and host other large events, but these should typically be done on an infrequent basis. In any event, whether or not a mosad should host such an event should be evaluated and determined on an individual basis for each organization.

Note: The subject of this article and the criteria used herein to schedule “events” applies only to annual campaigns. For the criteria to be used in a capital campaign, see “Three Crucial Answers About Capital Campaigns” in Volume 19 of Compass Magazine.

One Campaign Does Not Fit All

It is crucial to recognize the importance of being selective with regard to which donor you solicit with which campaign. Imagine asking a potential mega donor to purchase a raffle ticket for $100.00 or to join the Chai Club—even at $100.00 a month! A potential donor capable of contributing several thousand dollars a year should not be solicited to purchase a raffle ticket or to join a Chai Club. Rather, such a person needs to be solicited at a scheduled “one-on-one” meeting and asked to take on a specific number of units, leaving it for him to decide how and when he would like to give it.

How to Divide Your Fundraising Goal into Units

Divide your total fundraising goal into 100 units. For example, if your goal is $180,000, divide it into 100 units of $1,800 each. Then, create a pyramid including the following calculations:

i. 1 donor will give 10 units ($18,000)
ii. 2 donors will each give 5 units ($9,000), totaling $18,000
iii. 3 donors will each give 4 units ($7,200), totaling $21,600
iv. 5 donors will each give 2 units ($3,600), totaling $18,000
v. 35 donors will each give 1 unit ($1,800), totaling $63,000
vi. 40 donors will each give ½ a unit ($900), totaling $36,000
vii. Many donors will give various smaller amounts, totaling $5,400

This will bring you to a grand total of $180,000.

The sample list above is nothing more than an arbitrary chart. In order to create your chart, you must analyze each of your donors and determine how many you believe you will be able to bring on board at each of the listed levels. Once you see that you do indeed potentially have enough donors to help you meet your goal, you will walk into each fundraising appointment with a very high level of determination. You know that the donor in front of you has the potential to bring you to your final goal of reaching $180,000 (this formula can be applied to any sum of money, as well as any number of units).

Field Report

In my work with Rabbi Yankie Denburg via my six-month coaching program, I strongly suggested that he not be directly involved in his raffle fundraiser. Rather, I suggested he create a committee of committed volunteers who should be the ones to reach out and sell the tickets. Rabbi Denburg was responsible for creating the list of potential candidates to purchase the tickets, making sure to delete the names of the higher-level donors, and handing over this list to the committee.
The results:

  1. Rabbi Denburg saved a tremendous amount of time.
  2. Rabbi Denburg maintained his position as executive director, one who is directly involved with the potentially higher-level donors.
  3. There was a lot of excitement in the community, as there were many volunteers who came to make phone calls.
  4. Double the amount of tickets were sold than in previous years.

As this was Rabbi Denburg’s first year going this route, it is reasonable to say that next year there will beH be more volunteers, more excitement, and, ultimately, more tickets sold—and all this with less work for Rabbi Denburg himself.

On the day all the volunteers came together to make the calls, Rabbi Denburg made sure to serve a good lunch and be present to help the volunteers. Doing so, he recognized their efforts, as well as was available to answer questions and “close” some sales. There were those who wanted to speak to the rabbi directly and he was there for them.

The Fiscal Year at a Glance

January through March: Focus on the 20 percent of your donors who will produce 80 percent of your income, typically donating one or more units (“unit donors,” in this article also referred to as “top 20”).
April through June: Focus on those who will donate one-third to half a unit, while still working to obtain commitments and payments from your “top 20.”
July through September: Focus on the 80 percent of your donors who will produce 20 percent of your income.
October through December: Run your end-of-year campaign, focusing on those in the “top 20” who have not yet come through, past donors who have not donated this year, those who use your services but have not donated, as well as new donors and the community at large.

Wills and Endowments

A word about wills.

In a perfect, professional world of fundraising the system is such that one item follows the other. First, with much meaningful cultivation, comes the annual campaign, then, after even more cultivation, comes the capital campaign, and then, finally, come the wills.

The annual campaign is the base for everything. It is the platform through which donors get to know you and see how you operate. It is your medium through which to turn donors into partners. By sharing your vision and more information with your partners, you create a high level of trust. And the high level of trust brings them to cover your annual budget. After several years of continuing to build the annual campaign, you may be in a position to launch a capital campaign.

Launching a capital campaign professionally and successfully is a major step in building stronger relationships. It brings most of your donors to higher levels of giving while at the same time continuing to support the annual campaign, thus becoming more committed to your organization.

Having reached this point, you are ready to begin the process of obtaining wills. The people who started out by giving to your annual campaign and, over a period of years, joined your capital campaign with a substantial gift, are the most natural candidates to speak to regarding wills because they have proven to be bought into your vision.

This is all true in a perfect world. However, we do not live in a perfect world. We actually live in a very mixed up world, a world where the Rebbe has directed us to try doing everything—חטוף ואכול, חטוף ושתי. During the last few years, with the Aibershter’s help and the Rebbe’s brochos and largely due to the efforts of shliach Rabbi Shuey Eliezrie, more and more shluchim are obtaining wills without following the logical steps dictated above.

A word about endowments.

Many years ago, I worked with a shliach who was deeply in debt. After two years of turning the organization around we launched a campaign, “From Debt to Endowment,” and BH the shliach has an endowment fund.

Usually, though, you can only consider launching an endowment fund after you are running an organization for a good number of years with credibility, fiscal stability and responsibility, a strong annual campaign, good capital campaign(s), and excellent relationships with mega potential donors. In short, you need to be in a very good position to even think of launching an endowment fund.

More about endowments and wills in another article…

The Rebbe Is Fundraising With You! 

Rabbi Eliyahu Gross related:

“At one point, I began to fundraise for a certain mosad. When I began this new venture, I went to the Rebbe for yechidus and expressed how difficult it was for me to raise money. The Rebbe responded as follows:
“‘Imagine you are standing on Eastern Parkway, and not only on Eastern Parkway but in 770, on the second floor [the residence of the Frierdiker Rebbe], and you are in the Rebbe’s room. I am with you and you are with me, and together we are fulfilling the Rebbe’s wishes. When you have this in mind, your work will be easier!’”

Kfar Chabad Magazine v. 547, p. 57

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