Plan Now! The End (of the Year) is Near!


Plan Now! The End (of the Year) is Near!

 Hooray? December's coming! Image: pixabay.com

Not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty sure that the NPR crew from “Pop Culture Happy Hour” read my blog two weeks ago. Yeah, that’s right. You know, the post about the value of a “thank you” and how hearing or reading those two words can release serotonin (I keep thinking Pitocin, but that’s definitely not right…). Well, last week the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast had the cool title: “Need a Boost? Here’s Some Pop Culture Serotonin.” They know (and you know) that serotonin is pretty awesome. Who knew Hollywood was reading my blog?! Well, at least in my dreams they are.
A phrase that will, sadly, not release serotonin:

It’s time to start thinking about your year-end giving strategy.
Even though there are still three and a half more months left…everyone in the non-profit development/fundraising world is already talking about it. I’ve had at least three different posts cross my desk declaring “now’s the time to get organized.” The first one arrived on August 18th. Egads. Talk about freaking out.
I know most of you are just trying to make it through Stewardship season but now’s the time to put December on your radar.
And you know why?
33% of all giving happens in December. Let that sink in. 33 percent.
Here are three things to put on your “to do” list in the next several weeks. Some of these have been inspired by Steven Screen’s ten-minute video (the same one that arrived on August 18th).
1. Map out your overall year-end strategy and give yourself dates to follow. If you’re lucky enough, you have four channels to reach people: direct mail (you remember…the kind delivered by a old-fashioned postal carrier), email, your website, and social media. If that’s too much to cover, just do a great job with your direct mail (and try to include email). Start with these dates – when will your letter be finished? When will it be copied? When will it be mailed? Hint: your life will be much easier if the letter is completed, copied, and ready to be mailed by the first week of December. Then you have some flexibility as to when you actually put it in the mail.
Once your letter is finished, think about how you can use it in an email or on Facebook page, or have it uploaded on your website. Remember, these days, people receive correspondence in a variety of ways. Direct mail is but one way.
2. Decide – who will the letter be from? It may be time to mix things up and have the year-end letter written by someone other than you (the clergyperson). How about finding someone whose life has been changed because of one of your ministries and/or congregation? It may even give the letter a little extra credibility.
3. Determine – what’s the focus of your letter? What’s your “call to action”? Most people are not motivated to give to the general operating budget. Why? In a word, because it’s boring. You already have dynamic ways that you impact your congregation and community. Focus on those things rather than you need to “finish the year strong.” Write about kid’s Sunday School or the AA groups that meet at your church or the food bank that is staffed by your volunteers. That’s what will motivate people to give.
Now that you’ve recovered from your near-heart attack anticipating that December is around the corner, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves to get crackin’ on planning for the last month of the year. The end is near – and if you start now, you’ll have no fear knowing you’ll be rockin’ it. I’ve got your back. Let me know how I can help.
P.S. Last chance! Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church is offering a free webinar, “Share a Budget that Tells a Story” this Thursday, September 13 at 6:30 (CDT). Sign up here.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She’s almost ready for Christmas. She’s making her list and checkin’ it twice. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.