It’s giving season. Donors are feeling generous, the appeals have been sent out, and the donations are (hopefully) flowing in!
But, as every seasoned nonprofit employee and volunteer should know, the work is far from over. There’s much more to do to wrap up any loose ends and set a solid foundation for next year.
A successful year-end wrap-up will help you:
- Evaluate the year’s performance
- Engage your constituents
- Balance your org’s checkbook
These are all things that should make for a smooth transition into the new year.
We’ve boiled down our best advice into a simple nonprofit year-end checklist that every organization can accomplish before the end of the year.
1. Communications: Thank Your Donors
This may already be on your nonprofit’s year-end checklist, but it’s worth repeating because it’s just that important.
Since nearly one-third of all donations happen in December, you’ll probably be thanking a lot of donors for contributing to your year-end campaign. But you should also find time to thank other donors who have contributed throughout the year, even if they haven’t donated in a while.
The message doesn’t have to be elaborate—something as simple as a postcard or email expressing your thanks for their support this past year will get the message across. It’s just another opportunity to engage with your supporters and remind them why they contributed to your cause in the first place
Here are some creative “thank you” ideas:
- Send a postcard instead of a letter
- Invite them to an event (without asking for a donation!)
- Record a personal video message
- Send the “thank you” from someone new
Your nonprofit year-end checklist should also include recognizing major donors, dedicated volunteers, and other important supporters. The end of the year is a great time to thank them for their support, and individual gifts may be especially effective (depending on the donor).
Consider creating a list of any donors who made significant contributions and doing something special to make them feel appreciated.
2. Reporting: Evaluate Your Performance
There’s a whole year’s worth of data in your system with all sorts of information about donations, members, and donors. As you work through your nonprofit year-end checklist, make time to create, save and export reports in your donor database that will help you make sense of your performance over the past year—and it’ll help you improve next year!
Reviewing reports now will help you get a sense of what’s working now and what could use some tweaking to achieve maximum impact in the future. This data will be great to have in mind and reference while planning your annual fund and overarching strategy for the year.
You may also want to use information from these reports in your nonprofit’s annual report and other materials to illustrate your impact on constituents and board members. But remember not to get caught up in the visualization of your data.
Compelling data visualization can be very effective, but focusing on the story the raw data is telling is more meaningful than making it look pretty. However you choose to use your data, focus primarily on your story and use your data to reinforce that narrative.
3. Transactions: Process Any Miscellaneous Donations
The end of the year is a great time to process (and follow up on!) any miscellaneous donations, memberships, and other pending transactions that have yet to be entered into your system.
You may have some transactions that fall through the cracks, usually because they have to be imported or manually entered or because you’re not sure how to best process them. This is the best time to take care of them.
If you’re unsure how to enter certain transactions or confused about the import/manual entry process, you probably have options. Many CRM providers offer step-by-step guides to walk you through the process; if you’re a Neon CRM user, you can find these guides in our Support Center.
Make it a priority to deal with these transactions and follow up with your donors before the end of the year. It’s important for your fiscal records, and it’s nice to have a clean slate for the new year.
And once you process these transactions, you’ll have another opportunity to engage with these constituents. Like we mentioned earlier, you can never say “thank you” enough times!
Plus, your constituents will likely be looking for confirmation and receipt materials to use for tax purposes. Making sure all transactions are processed and properly recorded will make it easier for you to give them the information they need.
Create a Nonprofit Year-End Checklist That’s Right For You
Every organization is different, and that means your nonprofit year-end checklist might have some other unique needs on it. But we’re confident that everyone can benefit from these three things, and that they’ll put you on the track to success in the new year.
It’s never too early to prepare for the year end giving season.
To help you kickstart your efforts, we created this guide to planning your end-of-year campaign.
What else is on your nonprofit year-end checklist? Let us know in the comments!
Join the discussion in our Slack channel on connected fundraising