Snowing night outside a corner store

How Nonprofits Can Avoid Saying “What Do We Do Now?” After the Holidays

         Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol endures as a holiday masterpiece. Although first published in 1843, this classic work of literature remains so relevant, Netflix has even produced a new version in 2022. The DonorSearch team has a special affection for this story, especially the Disney version, because in the end, Ebenezer Scrooge is filled with the holiday spirit, spreading joy throughout the town on Christmas Day. The story ends on a joyous celebration—but especially in light of the current crisis in generosity, a natural question arises: “What happened to Scrooge after the holiday season passed?”

          Scrooge likely embraced his newfound spirit for the rest of his life. To this point, sociologist Émile Durkheim coined the term “collective effervescence” to refer to the joy many experience around holidays like Christmas and Hannukah. This levity is intrinsically tied to philanthropy—in fact, psychologists point to giving (both gifts to friends and to charity) as a top way to improve the mood for those who may suffer problems during the holiday season—or any other time of year.

Such emphasis on giving during the holidays is evident in the fundraising programs of every nonprofit in America. One recent report claims fully 20% of annual nonprofit revenue is raised in December. (That’s actually lower than the figure commonly circulated among the nonprofit community, which pegs the total at more than 30% of annual revenue.)

Clearly, this month is critical to the success of the typical nonprofit, but it’s inevitably followed up by a weaker first quarter, which seemingly mirrors the coldest months of winter experienced by much of the country. Unfortunately, in 2022, the traditionally soft first quarter was even softer in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, nonprofits that have just finished their fourth quarter fundraising push are often left asking: “What do we do now?” as the dust settles. Thankfully, DonorSearch clients are empowered to build and even strengthen deep relationships with their community all year long using powerful data and industry leading support only our firm can provide.

         In practice, DonorSearch works with each client to identify those key community members who are engaged with their mission. These people are not just part of any group—they are members of a tribe. For as Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell, co-author of the acclaimed book The Generosity Crisis: The Case for Radical Connection to Solve Humanity’s Greatest Challenges, explains, “When a community member feels a deep emotional attachment to a nonprofit, which we call Radical Connection, it’s not a matter of writing a check—it’s a relationship that thrives all throughout the year.”

A recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy favorably mentioning both Chappell and DonorSearch, provides an excellent example of such Radical Connection. The pieceexplores the example of the Houston Food Bank, which built stronger relationships with donors using a variety of tactics including personalization. Most importantly, the article explains how donors reacted to the nonprofit’s efforts to communicate better.

Incredibly, one supporter called the nonprofit to talk about the inflation hitting the U.S. economy. Far from scaling back her gifting, the donor increased her monthly donation out of concern skyrocketing food prices might weaken efforts to feed the hungry. Yet, for most nonprofits, the most engaged potential donors—like this woman who called the food bank about inflation—may not even be on a fundraiser’s radar screen.

DonorSearch can change that.

         As Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco explains, “Nonprofits need to strengthen their current relationships with donors and build completely new relationships all year long, not just at key times of the year. Our team therefore enables non-profit fundraisers to effectively and frequently communicate with your best prospects, many of whom feel strong ties to your organization without you even considering them prospects.”

The DonorSearch team accomplishes all this by leveraging cutting-edge tech, the best data sources available in the market, and a strong track record of successful collaboration. Specifically, we employ a range of innovative tools and data sources to create a more accurate picture of an organization’s community. Likewise, the DS Insights AI Solutions provides a variety of helpful scores for individuals, including retention, updates, and lifetime value metrics.

All this valuable information is combined with vast databases going far beyond traditional wealth data to include new activities directed toward giving, such as peer-to-peer donations. Although our process is number-intensive and data-driven, it produces the opposite effect—offering a more holistic view of any organization’s broader community where engaged potential donors stand out from the crowd.

         For all these reasons and more, DonorSearch clients are definitely not left scratching their heads in the first quarter. Instead, they have their plates full with new potential donors. What’s more, they are better poised to deepen their relationships with engaged community members, even those they haven’t communicated with before.

With our team’s help, your first quarter can also transform from a slow period to the perfect time to develop new and lasting connections. (And greater fundraising results!) To learn how DonorSearch can help you achieve this type of success in Q1, please schedule a call with us today.   

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