4th Quarter Moves to Meet Your Year-End Goals

Key Takeaways

As a fundraiser, what can you do to ensure success now that it’s Q4? Jessica discusses some 4th quarter moves to meet your year-end goals.

  • Look for a major donor who would be a candidate for a challenge match.
  • Dive deep into in your pledge payment schedules.
  • Dial that telephone.
  • Consider shifting follow-up schedule to 15, 30, 45-day reminders.
  • Make sure that you spend your budget.
  • Don’t neglect stewardship.
  • This is the perfect time to be doing strategic planning.


Hi, I’m Jessica Cloud, and I’m your Fundraising Success Coach with Humanitru. Today, we’re going to talk about a topic that is important for everyone in nonprofit fundraising, and that’s what you should be doing in the fourth quarter to reach your year-end goals and set you up for success for next year.

So, whether you are doing really well, or you’re in danger of falling behind, this is the time of year when you can really stagnate if you’re not on top of what you should be doing both now and to give you a leg up for next year. So stay tuned. I’m going to give you the secret of fourth quarter fundraising moves that you should be doing right now.

Okay, I know it can be really scary when you’re here in the fourth quarter, and it looks like you’re going to really struggle to reach your goal, but there are some really practical steps that you can take to make that fourth quarter hustle a lot easier for yourself. So, a few tips. First of all, I would look through your database and find a major donor prospect that might be a great candidate for a challenge match or a challenge grant.

Now, what exactly does that mean? So, this is a major donor who might provide you with $5,000, $10,000, or even $25,000, contingent upon you raising a matched amount. So, normally, it’s one-to-one. So, you go out and raise $10,000, and this other donor gives you a $10,000 match. Now, these make for great pitches on social media and email and even in direct mail piece to say that every dollar that this more modest donor gives will be matched by the challenge grant.

So, that is a great strategy. You work with your CEO or other major gift officers. You can also look through your database and look at some of the lead scoring modules like Humanitru has, looking at those engagement scores and seeing who might be a good match for helping you reach your annual goal with a challenge grant.

My second recommendation would be to really dive deep into looking in your pledge payment schedules. So, we know that donors sometimes sign up for multi-year pledges. Maybe they’re going to give $500 a year for five years? Or, they make a pledge earlier in the year to be paid later in the year. And people are inundated with information in all directions, especially digitally right now.

So, it really works in your favor. If you’re very detailed and you go through those pledge payment lists, make sure that you are sending reminders to everyone that has a pledge payment coming up in the fourth quarter. But also looking back over anyone who has missed a pledge payment earlier in the year. Oftentimes, they just missed the notification.

So, you need to make sure that you’re doing the adequate follow-up that might involve phone calls, could be mail, could be email reminders, or all of the above. But, those folks have already committed. So, the hard part has already been done. They have committed, they are with you on your mission, they want to make the gift. They just need to be reminded and perhaps given the vehicle to do so an envelope or an online giving link, whatever it takes.

The next thing that I would recommend is that you just dial that telephone, make sure that you’re on the phone with your prospects because you want to make sure that you’re touching folks, especially in this fourth quarter, if for no other reason than to prepare them for the next year’s campaign.

But, you also want to make sure you look at the specific group of people who gave in your previous fiscal year, but haven’t yet given this year and just get on the phone and dial for those dollars. If you have a formal phonathon, make sure you’re focusing in on that renewal group that you want to make sure to get a gift again from them in this fiscal year.

But, also, if it’s just a one person shop, like, like my shop, I’m going to be on the phone a lot in April, May and June, trying to accomplish our goals and probably on Zoom as well. So, make sure that you’re using all of the technologies available to you, but that you’re asking, asking, asking in this fourth quarter.

The other thing I would recommend is if you have a regular process of doing reminder letters or reminder phone calls, you might be on a schedule that’s monthly. So, you might have a 30, 60, 90-day follow-up on any miss pledge payments. You may want to consider shifting that schedule to a 15, 30, 45 so that you tighten that window of reminders, and it’s more likely that they’ll fulfill that gift by the end of the year.

So, now what if you’re doing great? What if you are just going to sail right past your goal? Well, you shouldn’t let yourself coast to the finish line. There are some things that you can be doing in this fourth quarter to set yourself up for success next year.

So, I’m going to give you a few of those tips. First of all, make sure that you spend your budget, look at where you are versus what you thought you were going to need for the year, and if you have some extra pockets of funds, is there a tool that you can sign up for that you’ve been wanting to try out?

If you can sign up for it in the fourth quarter right now, you’ll have it for most of the next fiscal year. And, you want to make sure that you utilize that budget, not only to do the best work that you can for your organization, but to make sure that you don’t, you lose those budgetary funds in the future. So, spend what you can on smart tools here in the fourth quarter, so that you will have a more things in your toolkit going forward in the next year.

The second thing I would recommend is don’t neglect stewardship. So, you want to make sure that you’re using that fourth quarter for thank you calls, thank you notes, thank you emails. Make sure that you are expressing gratitude on behalf of your organization because if you’re doing well, you have folks to thank for that. All of those donors are contributing to your success here in the final quarter, and you want to make sure that you’re expressing gratitude on behalf of the organization.

The last thing I’ll say is that this is the perfect time to be doing some strategic planning. So, even if it’s just you and you just want to put some structure around your work for the upcoming year, or if it’s a larger organizational, strategic planning process, now’s the perfect time to be doing that, especially if you have a July 1 start to your new fiscal year.

So, there’s things that you could be doing. Could you be doing some modeling, some projections setting? You could be lobbying for resources to get more in your budget for next year, so you can do more things in your program. You could also be launching a little benchmarking study to see how you stack up and your fundraising versus similar organizations.

So, make sure you check out my recent blog post on this topic because I talk all about sort of DIY strategies for strategic planning and what can you do without hiring a really expensive consultant that you can put together your own strategic plan to guide your fundraising work for the next year.

So, I hope you found these tips helpful. Just remember that no matter if you’re doing well, or if you’re kind of struggling here in the fourth quarter, it doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish the fiscal year. So, you can finish strong. It just takes some smart planning and forethought.

About Jessica Cloud

With over 20 years of fundraising experience, Jessica has worked for the Starr King School for the Ministry, The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, The University of South Carolina, RuffaloCODY, and the Libertarian National Committee. As a consultant, Jessica provides her fundraising services to nonprofits and higher education organizations. You can find her at Real Deal Fundraising.

Jessica Cloud, CFRE, MA
Fundraising Success Coach