DickersonBakker Blog

Here Are Your Q4 Success Indicators and Pitfalls to Avoid

Though the 4th quarter is still a couple of months away, it’s time to prepare now. I’ve shared before that a successful Q4 starts in the summer.  I want you to have a great Q4, so here are several success indicators and a few pitfalls to avoid as you ramp up for the end of the year campaigns at your organization.

Q4 Success Indicators

These nine success indicators can help you understand if you’re on the right track to having a successful 4th quarter. (If you’d like to talk about ways to implement these in your work, let’s talk – just contact us here to start a conversation >>)

  • Give 100% of yourself while depending on The Lord for the outcomes. Faithfulness is my job. Fruitfulness is God’s job. In fact, scripture says in Romans 14:23,” ….and anything that is not done in faith is sin.” See also Hebrews 11:1.  
  • Work from a place of peace and not towards it.  This honestly changes everything.  I gleaned this principal from Matt Perman’s book, “What’s Best Next.”  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS READ. Also, see Jeremiah 17:6, “This is what the LORD says: The man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD is cursed.” Because I struggle with this, I have this verse in front of my desk so that I can read it at the start of every work day.  
  • Show diligence in working all of the primary communication channels: phone, email, text, social media, and even good ole’ fashioned, hand-written cards. 
  • Grow donors to their fullest potential.  This encompasses the finances, time and talent The Lord has entrusted them to manage.
  • Not leaving money on the table.  This is an entire blog post in itself.  But it’s noteworthy to mention that we must operate from a place of intentional naivety and not project our fears onto the donor.  In other words, we must work from a place that assumes all of our ministry partners want us to present them with opportunities to make a difference.  To work from a place of fear is counter-productive and detrimental to fundraising. It’s also sinful and shows that I’m relying on my own resources to fundraise.    
  • Help your assigned donors find their place in God’s grand story of redemption. This also encompasses your acknowledgement of their gift as an investment in God’s Kingdom through your organization as opposed to an investment in your organization.  Too many organizations fundraise out of a myopic, small story.  The general message is, “support us to sustain us.” The problem that we exist to solve may not ever actually diminish. The gut-check is that we may not want the problem to diminish because of job security and ROI on what we’ve invested in working hard for organizational advancement. 
  • Proactively solicit lead gifts for the fall from your organization’s top 50 donors July-September.    
  • Treat every donor communication and interaction with importance. Recognizing that every touch-point matters and reflects your organization’s brand promise and your own character and belief set.  Moreover, every communication should be in alignment with the journey you envision for the donor.   
  • Think outside the box.  Creativity and innovation are the life-blood of major gifting. Think about some ways to engage and thank your major donors that will show them how important they are to making an impact on your community and for your cause. 

Q4 Pitfalls to Avoid 

Here are six common pitfalls to avoid during your 4th quarter.

  • Avoid fundraising from a place of panic, fear, and scarcity.  Major donors can sniff out this approach. They know when you’re using smoke and mirrors to hit your budget – or when you’re in legitimate trouble and need a bail-out.  The latter isn’t necessarily bad as long as you’re upfront and only use this “get out of jail card” once or twice during the donor’s life cycle.  
  • Don’t sacrifice a future strategic investment for a temporary “hit the budget” gift.  As long as the immediate contribution leads and tees-up the next ask, go ahead and make it.  But if it comprises the next ask, then my recommendation is for you to think more long-term.  
  • Don’t project your fears onto the donors and stop second-guessing yourself when reaching out.  PICK-UP THE PHONE and be a real person to your assigned partners. 
  • Ask your donors to invest in God’s Kingdom through your organization in an area that aligns with their philanthropic interests.  Don’t make the ask about you.  Make it about them! 
  • Not having a performance dashboard that includes all the vital metrics. In this dashboard include number of touches, appointments, meetings (like connector meetings and drop-by’s), asks, decisions, donor upgrades, donor renewals, donors acquired and so forth. Even if you’re the CEO, good stewardship teaches us that we should work in a way that allows the person who follows us to be successful. A big part of this is having goals, a plan of execution, and accountability.  Priorities are what we do …everything else is just talk. 
  • Be careful about events.  Events should be used for acquiring new major donors through your existing major donors. 

In sum, these success indicators and pitfalls to avoid allows us to live with clean hands and pure hearts.   This allows us to work with nothing to fear, hide, or prove. This is the vital disposition to have for a truly successful Q4. 

Please, reach out to us to talk about more specific ways to implement these indicators and avoid these pitfalls. We’d love to help you have a successful 4th quarter at your organization. You can contact us here to start a conversation >>

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