Year-end review

by Jini Stolk

I’d like to say a few words about the many fundraising messages and holiday greetings I received at the end of last year.

Fewer straightforward email asks came in at the end of 2013 than in 2012, but I noticed a number of companies doing something I thought was smart: they reminded me that the deadline for 2013 charitable tax deductions was coming up and urged me, if I was thinking of giving, to take advantage by making my donation now. I believe in taxes and want to pay my fair share, but this was a very appealing appeal; I imagine it was effective.

The Green Party took me pleasantly by surprise with a message titled: “Here’s your record. Is this right? We’re about to close the books on this year — so we’ve been making sure our records are up to date. Here’s what we have for you,” followed by basic information from their database including total donated this year, and suggested donation! Perhaps one too many follow-up messages came in the next two weeks, but I was definitely interested in updates on how close they were getting to their year-end goal, how many new or renewed donors had come on board, the current total, remainder to be raised to hit their target, etc.

Setting campaign targets and providing target updates (even for a regular annual campaign) is tremendously encouraging; I even like those fundraising campaign “thermometrics.” It’s one of the reasons I believe indiegogo campaigns (including The Theatre Centre’s very successful Community Campaign) are so effective: “oh, they only need $700 to reach their target. I can help with that”, or alternatively “oh no, they still need to raise $7,000 to reach their goal! I should help with that.” Is that just me, or is it human nature?

Toronto Arts Foundation won for the quickest thank you: a sweet note from Jason arrived on the evening of the day I hit “send” on CanadaHelps.

I love getting real cards in the mail – they’re becoming so rare! – but I appreciate the rush of holiday e-cards I got just before Christmas. As I said last year, they mean more when they’re personalized – and I’m especially delighted by the ones with group/staff photos.

This year there were more than the usual number of New Year’s greetings in my inbox right after the holidays. I couldn’t help guessing, based on personal experience, that some of these were because companies didn’t find time for pre-Xmas cards. But I still loved reading them, because I’m continually impressed by the beautiful and original ways artists find to say:

“Best wishes for happiness, health, love and fulfillment in the coming year”

p.s. Canada Post seems to be putting the last nail in the coffin of mailed holiday greetings: read this, by Leah Eustace, if you’re worried about the impact of changes to mail costs and delivery on your organization. She reminds us that only two years ago, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada, with Ipsos Reid, surveyed Canadians about their charitable giving: almost half (45%) preferred receiving a letter in the mail (the next highest preferred fundraising approach was an email at 17%).

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