Pearl and Mel Shaw FC CCAn important part of launching your year-end fundraising campaign is data. It’s not sexy, but it’s true. No matter how exciting your campaign may be, the question is this: who are you talking to?

We believe a nonprofit’s year-end fundraising should engage current and past supporters as well as new ones. We understand the excitement of designing a new campaign, using new technology, to engage new donors. Go for it! But don’t forget those who already know and support your organization. Here are four things that can help you engage those you already know.

1. “That was a great cultivation activity.” This is a phrase that makes the rounds within nonprofit circles. It’s repeated after a special event, or when a print or online article draws attention to the work of your nonprofit. Here’s what we know: not everyone you cultivate will give. But, if you don’t ask for a gift you radically increase the chances a prospective donor doesn’t give. Make sure to review lists of all those you have cultivated throughout the year and solicit them using an appropriate method or methods. It’s okay to ask via email, through a social media campaign, a direct mail piece, and a personal ask.

2. LYBNT. Within mature fundraising shops this stands for “Last year but not this.” You run a LYBNT report to learn about a group of donors you need to solicit: those who gave last year, but haven’t yet given this year.  When reviewing this report, look to learn “how” they give. For example, when your donor last gave, did she give via your website, in response to a direct mail appeal, through your phon-a-thon, or because of an in-person ask? Start your solicitation process with her prior giving method. Tip: include foundations and corporations in your LYBNT report so you don’t forget to submit proposals to prior funders.

3. Prior fundraising. Run a report that shows prior year solicitation methods and assess which method had the largest numbers of responses. You will want to make sure your year-end campaign includes that method. Look also for the method that yielded the most money. Include that method as well.

4. Determine your focus. Use the three methods above to help determine what solicitation methods you and your team should engage in and who you should solicit.

Build your donor base with new donors, but don’t forget your current or lapsed donors. You’ve invested in cultivating them, now be sure to solicit. It is much harder to gain a new donor than it is to retain a current one.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad&Shaw. They serve the nation’s nonprofits. For help with your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.