Did you know that Hanukkah and Christmas occurring at the same time has only happened 6 times in the last 100 or so years? The last time was in 2005. And I don’t think, according to my Google research, that the first night of Hanukkah has ever fallen on Christmas Eve.
For synagogue fundraising – or any not-for-profit organization – one of the most important times of the year is upon us.
The extra month of Adar this year in the Hebrew calendar and the “lateness” of the High Holy Days, and now Hanukkah, extend our engagement opportunities. During these twelve weeks, synagogues have had the most traffic than at any other time of the year. High Holy Days, Religious School, B’nai Mitzvahs and regular Shabbat worship – there are a lot of people passing through our doors.
And during the last 6 weeks of the calendar year, more donations to charitable causes will be made than at any other time. This is the biggest giving season of the entire year for most not-for-profit and religious institutions. I have blogged before about all of the direct mail and email that we will be receiving in the coming days. It will start the day before, or the day after Thanksgiving.
Most of the actual giving – checks sent in the mail, gifts of stock, and online donations – happens in the last 3 or 4 days of December.
Synagogues need an end of year campaign plan. You shouldn’t be hesitant about it because every other organization is doing it. Synagogues are important institutions to our congregants. And synagogues need money.
So here are a few ideas.
- For synagogue dues/annual commitments, send out an invoice on December 1 and then a reminder on December 15th via mail and/or email and on December 29th via email. Add a personalized note thanking people for their ongoing support and encourage full payment by 12/31 to help the synagogue as well as to help congregants in terms of their taxes. The mail date is the key factor for tax deductibility.
- Consider participating in #GivingTuesday. This year, it is on November 29th, so it may be too much of a rush. Some synagogues organize community projects on that day benefiting others in the community as well as a targeted effort for online donations for the synagogue.
- Create an email campaign. This is if your synagogue is set up for online donations. Many synagogues have a High Holy Day appeal. This can be the culmination of this effort, or just an end of year campaign. The fundraising credo is that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Schedule 4 emails to happen on or about December 6, December 17, December 23, and December 30. Each email should be 2-3 paragraphs.
- If your synagogue doesn’t have online giving, send out a direct mail letter during the week of December 5th. In addition to the letter, include a response form with a check off of varying amounts as well as a return envelope.
The important thing is to do something. Our congregants will be making many end-of-year gifts to many worthy organizations. Synagogues should ask at this time of year as well.
There is a budgeted fundraising goal that must be met. Take advantage of this unique opportunity.