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Perspectives for Thriving, Not Just Surviving, the Year-End Giving Season

This article was written by Kari Dasher. She is no longer with Ostara, but we want to preserve this piece so that you can learn from her and from the work she did while part of the Ostara team.

If you love fall like I do, I imagine you are thoroughly enjoying the arrival of crisp October mornings that precede perfectly warm and sunny afternoons, with three more months of fierce weekly gridiron competition to go and the Thanksgiving holiday (my favorite) on the horizon.

Of course, the arrival of fall also means that 2017’s year-end giving season is here. With nearly a third of annual giving occurring in December and 12% of all giving happening between December 29 and 31, you and your team likely began preparing as early as September. And between the annual gala, year-end appeal and plethora of major donor solicitations – not to mention, holiday vacations – the last four months of the year are stressful.

So, herein, a bit of perspective for staying grounded and joyful throughout the journey.


Fall is perhaps, if nothing else, the season of giving and service. Self-care is of paramount importance now more than any other time of year. It may be counterintuitive that pausing for a healthy mid-day meal and conversation with your colleagues or a walk to breathe deeply with the sun on your face or prioritizing extra rest – and extra fun! – during weekends can be the difference between success and near-burnout. Eleanor Brownn‘s often remind me that self-care prepares us to share our gifts with the world. “When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.” So, go ahead; take a bit of time to cook, hike, go to the symphony or ballet or a show – and carry your light throughout the giving season and into the New Year.


Inspire and assign your board and volunteers to help meet the goal. Whatever your year-end strategies, make them about your clients and donors. Emphasize online giving in the last week of the year. Learn from challenges, but keep moving ahead. Remember that you’re running a marathon, not a sprint, so plan accordingly. Remind donors how their gifts are changing someone’s world. Celebrate the smallest of successes. Give thanks.


As pressures mount to exceed year-end goals – and your colleague excitedly reminds you every day that they will be home for the holidays in 59 days and counting – making it a practice to extend grace and gratitude to yourself, your colleagues and your family makes it possible to start the New Year with strengthened relationships. Some ways to do this: say kindly what needs to be said. Apologize and accept apology. Be self- and socially aware and deploy your best emotional intelligence tools. Genuinely care about and seek others’ experience and perspective.


Know that your efforts to inspire contributor partnership on behalf of your clients – and our collective community – continue to make a small difference in counterbalancing the heartbreaking examples of hate, violence, toxic rhetoric and despair happening around the world and here at home. There are crowds of good people in our communities who want to use their talents and resources to make a difference. You and your organization are the catalysts for their giving. And now more than ever, our colleagues, clients, donors – and world – are counting on us.


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