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Bringing in the New Year: How Your Nonprofit Can Capitalize on December’s Giving Trend


During the holidays, nonprofit organizations scramble to capture a share of holiday generosity. Statistics show that December represents a third of all online giving. And 22 percent of year-round donations accumulate in the last two days of the month.

December Giving Trends

Data supplied by Network for Good's Online Giving Study

Additionally, December donors tend to give more than supporters in other months. In fact, Network for Good's Online Giving Study shows they donate 52 percent more. The study also says:

“December is the strongest month for most organizations offline. It’s even more so online. Further, it’s not just the month of December that’s spectacular, it’s the last couple of days, and even last few hours that make the difference.”

Americans want to donate to charitable causes during this time of year. In a survey conducted by The American Red Cross, 80 percent of Americans surveyed said helping those who are less fortunate is an important part of their holiday tradition. And 70 percent who donated in the last holiday season said they planned to donate the same or more in the upcoming season.

Given this compelling fundraising opportunity, what should nonprofits do to capitalize on the last-minute, year-end giving trend? Here are some suggestions from authors around the Web for organizations vying for a piece of the seasonal pie.

Make Giving Easy

Prospective donors shouldn’t have to search for a donation page. Frogloop writer Allyson Kapin suggests a big, bold, clear call-to-donate button. “This should be incredibly obvious in your navigation and in a callout box towards the top of your website. If you want to raise money, the donate button should not be buried and de-emphasized on your website.”

Keep it Seasonal

Jen Johnson, who writes for Otis Spunkmeyer’s Fundraising Success Tastes Sweet blog, says that including festive elements “adds excitement, spirit and holiday magic to the hard, cold process of raising money.” She suggests seasonal fundraising efforts like wreath auctions, themed charity walks/runs, holiday bake sales, caroling events, and Christmas concerts.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Urgency encourages people to act—now. suggests, “Setting a strict start and end date for your campaign can add a sense of urgency that motivates people to act. As the end date grows nearer, ramp up your communications to motivate supporters to hit their individual goals.”

Encourage People to Ask for Donations, Not Gifts 

Razoo says that “a majority of Americans are more likely to give a charitable gift this holiday season and four in five adults prefer to receive a ‘meaningful gift.’” As we know, most people donate when they are asked by their friends and family. Who are you asking to give this season? 

Globalgiving also suggests marketing a campaign as a last-minute gift idea: “Now is the time of the month when supporters are scrambling for gift ideas. Your supporters have already made donations to your project as gifts—but, have they asked their family and friends for a donation as a gift this holiday season?”

Build a Campaign Around Gratitude

All fundraising campaigns need not be a clever, cheeky endeavor. Razoo’s Inspiring Generosity blogger Geoff Livingston says, “People seem to forget that one of the primary celebrations of the holiday season is gratitude. Instead of trying to act like Don Draper, be sincere and publicly thank your supporters for how they have helped your cause this year. Tell stories of individual impact and what it's meant. Use pictures and videos wherever possible.”

Don’t Overlook the Last Week of the Year

Nonprofit Bridge says, “Schedule emails to go out both before Christmas and during the last few days of the year. Many constituents will wait until the last minute to donate.” Nonprofit Bridge also suggests scheduling a final email for the morning of December 31 stating that many constituents will even wait till the very last day to give.

The Fundraising Coach’s writer Marc A. Pitman adds, “According to [a] Network for Good survey, the primetime for online giving is December 31 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in the donor’s time zone.”

Emphasize the Tax Benefits of Year-End Giving

“We’ve got one reason to love taxes—just one,” says Jill Havlat, a nonprofithub blogger. “April 15 suddenly feels a whole lot closer to supporters once the New Year is looming, so they’re far more likely to be persuaded to give to a charitable organization for a tax credit. Compose copy for email newsletters, direct mail pieces and especially your website that emphasizes the tax benefits of donating to your cause.”

These are, of course, only a handful of last-minute strategies to focus on to up the ante on your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaigns. If you’re a nonprofit professional who’s focused on fundraising campaigns, what have you found to be successful to encourage end-of-year giving from supporters? Please leave your insights below.

Thumbnail image created by Jonathan Silva.

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Ashley Halligan

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Ashley Halligan is a contributor to Software Advice.

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