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Ten Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits to Beat the Year-End Clock

Written By | Dec 17, 2018
Nonprofits needs to maximize results from year-end giving to fund their programs. Photo: Bohed/Creative Commons Fundraising tips

Nonprofits needs to maximize results from year-end giving to fund their programs. Photo: Bohed/Creative Commons

SAN DIEGO, Calif., December 17, 2018 – According to the nonprofit watchdog organization Charity Navigator, 31 percent of annual donations to charities take place in December. Donors find themselves bombarded with pleas for help in their mailbox and their inbox, especially if they have been donors in the past. It can be difficult for any single organization to get a donor’s attention – and more important, the donor’s support.

Catholic Community Foundation of San Diego CEO Gary Rectenwald understands what nonprofit organizations are up against and the pressure they feel to capitalize on the spirit of giving during the holiday season. Rectenwald raised more than $50 million for his relatively small charity in the first two years under his leadership in 2016 and 2017.

Gary Rechtenwald takes a business approach to a nonprofit challenge: effective fundraising. Photo: Courtesy CCFSD

Rectenwald brings the focus of a business executive to fundraising. Rectenwald joined Catholic Charitable Foundation of San Diego after a successful 30-year career as an information technology executive with IBM, AT&T, and Computerland. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in computer and information sciences, and an MBA. His bio is attached.

Businesslike approach benefits nonprofits

Rectenwald’s analytical skills has resulted in a no-nonsense focus on fundraising, turning some of the tried and true advice on asking for charitable donations in a new direction. Rectenwald and his organization focus on the needs of the donor rather than the recipient, in the same way a for-profit business targets its customers by meeting their needs.




“As a Foundation, we focus on the need to give, rather than giving to a need,” says Rectenwald. “We go out into the community encouraging people to support a cause meaningful to them. If they don’t have one, we can help create a connection for them so their efforts become personal to them.”

Catholic Community Foundation also works with individuals to administer their estate, no matter what portion large or small might be directed to a nonprofit organization after someone’s death. It does not have to be a Catholic organization, as long as the nonprofit’s beliefs are aligned with Christian principles – as simple as loving your neighbor.

Fundraising tips for nonprofits to boost giving

Nonprofit organizations should follow best practices in fundraising to fund their programs. Photo: Willian_2000/Creative Commons

Nonprofit organizations should follow best practices in fundraising to fund their programs. Photo: Willian_2000/Creative Commons

Rectenwald offers the following ten tips for nonprofits who may be struggling with best practices in fundraising to help boost their donations and the services they can provide as a result.

  1. Keep your message simple and short.
  2. Create an effective elevator speech to convey your message quickly and concise.
  3. Create visual marketing materials, brochures, annual reports and presentation materials, that conveying your message/elevator speech.
  4. Focus on endowments as ‘forever gifts.’
  5. Connect with estate attorneys, financial planning and CPA organizations who can refer clients to your charity.
  6. Network with other community nonprofit organizations.
  7. Join community organizations who are allied with your cause.
  8. Linkage with professional organizations who can recommend your services.
  9. Obtain testimonials from donors and beneficiaries.
  10. Write and place trade magazine or newspaper articles telling your organization’s story to connect with donors.

Rectenwald pointed to community networking as one of his organization’s successful tools. Being interactive with different sectors of the community whether business, education, neighborhood groups, or other nonprofits, provides the Foundation a way to learn about needs and resources which it can then direct to the most efficient and effective partnership, even if it’s not his own.

If this reminds you of the approach taken by the Macy’s Santa Claus in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” you wouldn’t be alone. If you’re too young to have seen the original 1947 version, do yourself a favor and don’t let another holiday season go by before watching it. Then choose your cause and end the year on a giving note.

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.