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Year End Appeal...Valentine's Day...Mother's Day...the litany of "special occasions" for fundraising goes on all year long.

It doesn't matter when (except for April 15th) - any time is a good time for fundraising if you've got motivated ambassadors and a hook that highlights mission.
The Right Time To Ask

The best seasonal fundraising appeals use the timing of the appeal as a springboard to talk about the cause. Valentine's Day is a natural for domestic violence-focused nonprofits. Mother's Day is used by senior-serving agencies. Thanksgiving, of course, relates to food-related charities.

The connection can also be subtler: Back to school for a kids' shelter, or the advent of winter for a charity serving the homeless.

But what about something more fanciful, like April showers bring May flowers sparking an appeal focused on training young activists (an investment that will "bear fruit" in the future)?

Or Halloween providing the jumping off point for an ask based on the idea that "Halloween's supposed to be scary: Coming home every day from school should not be"?
Why now?

Giving your fundraising activity (event, appeal, drive, campaign) a seasonal connection is powerful partly because it helps your fundraising drive "make sense" in the mind of the asker as well as donor. " Oh, that's why we have to give/ask now" they think, rather than " Why are they coming after me again?"

But while the end of your fiscal year can be a rallying cry for board members, it's not an external reason for giving. "Help us close the gap" doesn't sound too exciting, or too impactful, does it?

Giving should be forward-looking - focused on what the donors' contribution will help change in the world. Asking folks to "reimburse" your agency, in essence, for what's already been done, doesn't make someone sit forward in their seat.
Touch Hearts and Minds

A seasonal connection can give your donors something to grab onto. "Help us do what we've been stalwartly doing for the past 20 years" doesn't sound very compelling. Yet how many nonprofits tout their stellar history of service as a primary reason for their appeal? Sure, a donor needs to know the organization's not a fly-by-night production, but that should just be background. The difference your organization makes should be front and center.

Seasonal fundraising that highlights programming provides a persuasive "why" at the same time as it answers the question "why now." Referring to experiences we have in common - family gatherings at Thanksgiving, the promise of Spring - seasonal fundraising uses our shared cultural fabric to urge us to do better for those in need.
Tales of Seasonal Fundraising Success: Center for Anti-Violence Education

For 44 years, the Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE) has run comprehensive violence prevention programs for individuals and organizations. Through a combination of education, physical empowerment, activism and leadership development, CAE works with marginalized communities to break cycles of violence. In 2013, CAE launched a new special event: " The PROM You Always Wanted," aimed at people who've been marginalized because of their sexual orientation or race or other differences and didn't go to their prom. This late-Spring event offers the opportunity to revel in a robust, diverse community.

The first year, Prom raised $30,000 from about 100 people; this year it raised almost $125,000 with 230 tickets sold. An active host committee sends out invitations, with many people returning year after year and bringing friends. Corporate sponsors accounted for $76,000 of this year's total, with sponsors often sending employees belonging to their Pride Network or other affinity group.

To ensure that CAE's mission isn't lost, the event contains a "Passbook" listing activities ranging from anti-violence Jeopardy, to a "break-a-board" sponsorship where attendees write the type of violence they want to eradicate on a wooden board that youth program participants smash through with their newly-gained karate skills. " I learned so much about what the organization is doing," one attendee told the executive director Loren Miller. " The Prom is our vision in action," explained Miller: " It's a dynamic, mixed group of people at a really special party that goes beyond inclusion to be a celebration of our differences."
Cause Effective Can Help

Would you like to celebrate the season and get away from the same-old, same old fundraising stories? Contact us - we'd be happy to brainstorm with you and cultivate some new ideas. 

Judy Levine 
Executive Director  
Cause Effective Around Town
Workshops, New Staff, Blog... and more! 
Stronger Together Borough Talks
Cause Effective will be a panelist on an upcoming Support Center series on building and maintaining a diverse board. We will speaking on the relationship between DEI, boards, and fundraising. The talks will take place in three different boroughs on
June 5th, June 7th and June 14th.
Cause Effective Workshops:
Thinking about a big anniversary bash? Think even bigger than that. Why not celebrate and reap the benefits of your anniversary all year long? Anniversary campaigns can boost your organization's infrastructure, visibility, and resources well beyond what can be achieved in a single night.
Wed. June 20th 9:30-11:30
at the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee

Special Thanks to BNY Mellon

For support of Cause Effective's public workshop offerings
Cause Effective Staff News

Welcome to Cause Effective's new Program Manager!
Janay Daniel

And to Cause Effective's new Adminstrative Assistant!
From the Cause Effective Blog:
Exploring the Unknown
We spend a lot of time in fundraising polishing the stone - getting better and better at what we already know how to do. But sometimes you need to take a step outside - explore a new sector, or subsector, that's never given you funding before.

To approach the holy grail of a "diversified funding base," we have to go beyond our comfort zone. [more]
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For 35 years, Cause Effective has strengthened the nonprofit sector by increasing the capacity of more than 5,000 nonprofits to build sustainable communities of supporters. We transform people, culture and systems, coaching nonprofits to learn, carry out and sustain new approaches to fundraising and board engagement.

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