Here’s hoping you had a great holiday and are ready to use these final days of 2018 to wrap up end-of-year fundraising activities and begin planning for 2019.

Today is Boxing Day.

This tradition started in the United Kingdom and is celebrated in many countries that used to be a part of the British Empire. There are competing theories about the exact origin. Although none are definitive, a common theme is Boxing Day is a day to recognize service workers with gifts, frequently gifts of money.

You can use Boxing Day as an opportunity to reach out to your December donors to say thanks. Send acknowledgement letters. Make a phone call. Send an email. Let your donors know their December gifts are important to your organization.

This is a good time to plan your communication with donors about the tax benefits of their contributions. I always try to send this letter to donors by January 31, and I make it a “soft ask” by including a donor envelope, or a P.S. message with a link to online ways to give.

Don’t wait until a donor calls to ask for this documentation. Be proactive and get the information to your donors before they start to think about filing their taxes.

Here’s an article about what information you should include in your tax letter:

 I use this last week of the year for some specific planning tasks related to the upcoming new year.

ONE: Update your cash flow documents through the end of 2019.  Watch for the months when expenses take a jump to ensure you can cover those expenses. Think about your grant writing notification dates and whether revenue is firm or projected. Note all these on your cash flow statement.

TWO: This is the week I review the preliminary annual revenue and expense statement. I compare it to the budget developed for the year. This work allows you to fine-tune your 2019 budget, which was probably drafted a few months ago. You’ll want to do this again once your 2018 financials are complete.

THREE: Develop an organizational calendar for board meetings, funding reports, staff meetings, performance reviews, retreats, workshops and conferences, events, holidays, etc. Share it with staff and board, seeking input. Throughout the year, update this calendar as necessary.

FOUR: Look at your promotional and informational materials—print and electronic. What information will need updated for the new year? What information should be added or eliminated?

FIVE: Is it time for an in-depth strategic planning process for your organization? If so, begin to prepare for the process, integrating it into your budgeting and calendaring.

Ben Franklin had some good advice, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”