Have you ever thought you were doing great with your job only to have the rug pulled from under you? You work hard and get things done. But instead of a raise, you are asked to do even more work.

That happened to me one December evening and threw me for a loop.

I was the executive pastor of a church, and we had been planning all year to expand our youth facility in the coming year. We were going to make this new remodel part of our operating budget. During the meeting, the chairman looked at me and glibly said:

“If you want to do this project, you will need to raise this money outside the budget.”  

Oh, great, I thought, how am I supposed to do that?

It was mid-December, and I knew that if I moved fast, I would still have a chance to do it before the year ended.

I knew that 30% of all giving for any US nonprofit is done in December. And that 12% of giving happens during the last three days of the month!

That gave me enough hope to try raising the money. I said a prayer and went to work.

By December 31, 2001, I had most of the 100 thousand dollars pledged or given.

Here’s how I did it. (And have done it several times since.)

Deploy a Finish-Strong Campaign 

That’s one of my favorite ways to motivate our troops. People love to win. And ask help to finish strong is like saying, “let’s go and win this race!”

It works even if your ask is something new. We had not told the congregation about the new youth project. My first “Finish Strong” campaign simply said: If we finish strong and raise an extra $100,000, you can make a big impact in the lives of so many teenagers who need help and encouragement. We will build them a bigger and better meeting space and reach even more teens.

We already had a goal for the year, but the finish strong campaign was beyond that goal.

Once you setup your campaign and goal, you should do the following:

Find the Top 10

Reach out to your top 10% donors personally and let them “in” the know before you go public. Ask them to pledge before you even send your first announcement. Their gift will encourage the rest of your list.

Chances are you’ll have nearly half of your goal pledged before you send the first letter or email.


Don’t Be the Hero

Remember that you are not the hero of this story. The donors are. They are the ones who make possible for the good that is going to come from the success of this quick campaign.

Use language in your communication that lets your donors envision a better future they helped create: “Imagine your children and grandchildren learning, growing and being encouraged because your vision for their future.”


Say No To Taxes
Reminding your donors that their gift is a tax-deduction is important. People can either support your cause or pay taxes with that money. That’s a no-brainer choice. “You have until December 31 to give a tax-deductible gift. Afterwards the government will claim that money.”

Not very subtle, but quite effective.

Once you have the commitments from your top 10%, then include that total in your letter and emails going to the entire list.

“I believe we can do this because we already have 50% of our goal committed by only a few people. I know that together we can finish strong.”  That first communication energized our entire congregation.


Follow up!
Don’t send one letter or email and wait for things to happen. Send a letter in the mail, if you can, and an email to the list and follow up via emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings, to key people, making sure you send one email reminder a day during the last three days of the year to everyone.

If you need to fund something that’s not in your budget or a new opportunity, it’s not too late. Deploy your “Finish Strong” campaign and let me know how you did!

Keep making a difference,


Digital Growth Strategies