As the sands of the annual hour glass start to run thin, most nonprofit organizations enter into “silly season.” The last quarter of the year seems to be when the proverbial revenue alarm goes off and a mad reactionary scramble ensues to turn over every sofa cushion and hold every stakeholder by the ankles in search of loose change.
This isn’t going to be a post about how to be more strategic all year to avoid “silly season.” Reality is, it is mostly unavoidable and not necessarily a negative thing. According to Network for Good
, 33% of all annual online giving happens in December, with 22% of all annual online giving happening between December 30-31 !
According to Convio
- Seventy-four percent (74%) of U.S. adults plan to give this holiday season. With average total gifts of $281, the anticipated amount raised by nonprofit organizations is $48.4 billion.
- Giving is profoundly multichannel with 70% of donors saying they will give in multiple ways (i.e., print is still alive!).
- Donors with online relationships with a nonprofit report they will give almost $100 more than average ($378 vs $281) this holiday season.
- Generation X donors plan to give almost $350 this year, making them the most generous demographic.
So yes, unavoidable and rightfully so.
However, for nonprofit marketing and fundraising professionals, this isn’t as automatic as it may appear. Far too often, especially in recent years, the coffers begin to run bare by or before the last (calendar) quarter, leaving the migraine-inducing problem of reaping a harvest with few or no seeds. This pressure is compounded with the widely known reality of how common it is to raise significant funding in the last month(s). Nothing like peer pressure!
The way I see it, we have three choices of how to respond - 1) Complain and worry. It’s like a rocking chair — it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere. 2) Play the blame game for not allocating enough budget toward marketing for the year. (That conversation is a year too late and is a never-ending "teachable moment" anyway.) 3) ... or take the one last bean you have and make magic.
In full transparency, this tends to be my exact reaction sequence.
This takes knowing and mastering your craft better than ever, perhaps immersing and studying like never before. This takes confidence in yourself, knowing you have been a part of success in the past and are fully capable of doing it again. This takes being vulnerable and asking for help. Mostly, it requires risk. Risk in doing something different in order to get something different.
It takes a lot of fortitude to realize conditions aren’t always (or ever) favorable for a bountiful harvest and it is up to you and you alone sometimes to make a beanstalk with little to no "jack" in the coffers.
Plant in a new place in a new way and step back!