SHERIDAN — The last few weeks of the year are crucial to the fundraising efforts of nonprofit organizations.
According to the Wyoming Community Foundation, most charitable donations are made in the last two days of the year as people wait to see what their tax liabilities are and where they can make donations instead of paying money to the government.
Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns Executive Director Christine Dieterich said her group has done year-end giving campaigns for the past two years and they have been opportunities to collect funding for specific projects the group wants to work on in the coming year.
“It’s also an opportunity to keep relationships with the donors we have,” Dieterich said. “Just constantly being a presence for them and letting them know what good things are going on, what we’re looking at accomplishing in the future and how they can help at the end of the year.”
Because so many nonprofits conduct year-end giving campaigns, there can be competition for donations. However, Dieterich said Habitat does not want to take away from other good causes, and focuses on appealing to donors by advertising its projects and letting donors choose which causes most appeal to them.
“We don’t ever want to step on any other nonprofit’s toes and we don’t want to end up in some kind of nonprofit Hunger Games,” Dieterich said. She added that Habitat’s year-end campaign focuses heavily on reaching out to people who have donated previously.
Rooted in Wyoming, a local nonprofit dedicated to partnering with schools to build community gardens, only hosts one fundraiser a year, its Farm to Plate Dinner in September, but sees donations trickle in throughout the year. Rooted’s Executive Director Bonnie Gregory said those donations usually pick up at the end of the year, but this year her group has been given a major opportunity.
An anonymous private donor issued a matching gift challenge where they would match up to $100,000 of end-of-year donations to Rooted in Wyoming. Gregory said Rooted in Wyoming did not push for end-of-year donations in its first two years, and elected just to send thank you notes to its supporters, and still saw a bump in donations toward the end of December. This year, though, Gregory said the group wants to make the most out of the generosity of their matching gift.
“It’s a really important time for us to try and capture and maximize some of those donations that are available,” Gregory said.
The Wyoming Community Foundation took Rooted in Wyoming on as a special project shortly after the group formed, which means the WCF would house Rooted in Wyoming and help it establish a sustainable model over three years.
“We’ve got one more year to really get it together and make sure that our operations are going,” Gregory said. “Because you can have a phenomenal organization but if you don’t have the correct staff and the correct board, it self destructs.”
Because Rooted in Wyoming’s next step will be to solidify its operations, Gregory said much of the money it raises over the coming weeks will go toward staffing and marketing.
“The programming part is sometimes the hardest to raise and make funds for and it’s one of the most important,” Gregory said. “Because if you don’t have those good systems in place and you don’t have good support staff, nothing really gets done. Or it does get done but it doesn’t really get done as well as it should.”
The rest of the money Rooted in Wyoming raises will go directly into its garden projects.
Gregory was quick to add, though, that Rooted in Wyoming has been supported by donations of materials used to build and maintain gardens and, most importantly, people’s time.