Do You Only Ask for a Gift Once a Year?


Nov 25, 2013 | Programming & Outreach

Many senior living organizations have an annual appeal. They ask their residents, families, volunteers and friends to give to them once. They do not want to offend anyone by asking more than once. Are you offended when your place of worship asks every week? My husband sends a check every time the local food bank sends him an appeal. It makes him feel good several times a year.

The research shows that people give at many different times during the year. Some give only in December before the tax year ends. Others may give quarterly when they get certain income or have time to review their wishes and assets. Like my husband, some will give every time they are asked by an organization they wish to support.

Birthdays, anniversaries, or the date of the loss of a loved one can prompt a donation in honor or memory of someone. This is an especially good appeal message to senior living residents and their families. “We truly appreciated the memorial gifts given in Harry’s memory and the lovely patio they made possible. Your gift this year will help us add more landscaping and apple trees that he loved.”

Is there a special date in your organization’s history? If you have a founder’s day event, or a special day to honor staff, this can be a reason to send out an appeal.

The key is to have the request letter and envelope in their hands at the time they are most likely to give. Thus, sending an appeal once a year will miss quite a few people.

Some senior living organizations send out LYBNT and SYBNT letters (Last Year or Some Year But Not This). This is to wrap up a drive and try to get people from dropping off your lists. This is a very important request because you do not want to lose donors. We know that consistent donors, even small donors, are prime prospects for a bequest.

If your organization is sending out a quarterly newsletter or an annual report, do not miss the chance to insert an envelope. Often, the donations that flow from this minimal effort pay for the publication and are second or third gifts in that year. It is easy for a mail house to sub-sort the mailing list, so only some people get the envelope and not others such as referral sources.

A very effective approach is to ask people to consider a monthly payment plan automatically charged to their credit card. This may not appeal to some seniors, but other donors may like the simplicity of this and that it can be small amounts donated each month. It is as simple as a special box on your appeal envelope and/or the option on the donation page of your website.

For more ideas on how to create an annual fund raising calendar, call Freddi at SageAge Strategies. We welcome the opportunity to evaluate your current fund development activities and jump start them to a new level of results. SageAge Strategies can also improve your on-line donations with your website including adding the automated monthly payment option.

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