Mastering Year End Giving: Strategies, Campaigns, and Donation Ideas for Nonprofits at the End of the Year 

Mastering Year End Giving: Strategies, Campaigns, and Donation Ideas for Nonprofits at the End of the Year 

In 2022 philanthropic giving was recorded to be a half a trillion dollars in the US alone, and of that amount, 30% of it came into charities during the end of year in December. In fact, 10% of that money came in during the last three days of the year, one reason to never quit working on your fundraising campaign! And just a final illustration, some charities receive up to 50% of all of their annual giving in the month of December alone making it the biggest giving time of the year.

With all of that money for grabs, it should clearly demonstrate to you why having a seriously well thought out End-of-Year Giving Campaign that pushes hard until the very last day is so important. And that’s exactly what this article is all about. We’ll get into the nuts and bolts of creating a year-end campaign that can dramatically increase the amount of donations your charity receives in the month of December.

End of the Year Giving and Why It's So Crucial

Although the end of the year may be the 'season to be jolly', it's also a time when a lot of people, including your supporters feel thankful for what they have and take a minute and think about how they can help support the negative situations around them in a positive way. And one of the easiest and most impactful ways is through making a donation or some other form of charitable giving.

The significance of year-end giving in the nonprofit sector can't be underestimated. Like we stated already, 30% of all charitable giving is done in the month of December, so your year-end giving campaign appeal needs to be spot on to take advantage of all the good will floating around during giving days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's, as it tends to bring out a spirit of giving and generosity which translates into a donation.

Another reason that people don't often recognize as a cause in the uptick in charitable year-end giving is the simple fact that these donations are tax free and write offs for all your supporters, individuals and businesses alike. Plus many supporters don't really know what they can afford to give at other times, but at the closing of the year, especially for corporate sponsors, they have a much better understanding of what sort of donation they can afford to donate in order to support your mission. And at the end of the year, a few sizable donations can help people and corporations save a lot of money on their tax returns. So for them, making a donation is a win-win, especially if it aligns with their philanthropic philosophy.

And of course all of this works out well for your charity as most year-end fundraising or year-end giving campaigns are also the perfect opportunity to thank your donors for all they have done for the year, while at the same time nudging them to give one last time before the year closes. That's why you should always include a newsletter or thank-you letter as part of your overall fundraising campaign at the close of the year, which we'll go into more detail below.

The Role of Giving Tuesday in Year-End Giving

Created as a response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a global philanthropic movement that occurs on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, which falls somewhere from middle to late November. Giving Tuesday is when most charities kick off their year-end appeal and campaigns and start to torque up their efforts. And for good reason. Last year alone nonprofits pulled in a record 3.1 billion dollars in just 24 hours on Giving Tuesday which is a 15% increase over the previous year. That makes it one of the most important days to boost your fundraising activities in order to get your own slice of this massive pie.

And since Giving Tuesday is a global event and does get a lot of attention, it’s the perfect time to remind your donors and followers the importance of the work you’re doing and the impact on your cause their help and donations are providing. It’s another great way to stay in their view so when the urge does come to give, your charity is foremost on their mind.

The Ultimate Year-End Giving Guide for Nonprofits

A successful year-end fundraising campaign requires strategic planning, effective execution, donor engagement and strategic use of your marketing channels just like your annual fundraising does.This is a super important time and you need to capitalize on this small window of opportunity for fundraising as much as possible. Our step by step instructions and marketing plan will help guide you on how your organization can benefit greatly from all the goodwill during this special time of the year.

Plan Early!

With so much fundraising riding on this seasonal rush to give, it’s best practice to make sure you over-prepared if possible. Don’t forget, every nonprofit knows what you do and what’s at stake, so you don’t want to be competing with them. Rather, you want to be out performing them. And this means getting a head start on your campaigns.

Most nonprofits start planning their year-end campaign sometime in October, but we recommend starting your fundraising as early as September. A well laid out plan takes input from a few different people, so just the planning stage can burn a lot of time. Then if there are any snafus, again you’re going to need more time. So start early and have time on your side rather than it biting at your heels and pushing you towards a plan that isn’t comprehensive or complete.

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Setting clear goals and fundraising objectives means determining how much funding you’re planning on securing as well as what campaign goals you plan to reach like the number of donors, total funds raised, or specific projects to be funded. Without clear goals is about impossible to measure if anything is successful, or you just wasted a lot of time and energy on something that didn’t have the results you wanted.

One of the easiest ways to set super clear goals and objectives is to look at your prior year-end data and strive to do 5% to 10% better. This should be obtainable and it’s a clear cut goal without being overly optimistic. You can use the same number for the amount of funds you plan to raise down to the number of donors you feel you can sway to donate another gift to your cause, or even the number of new donors you plan to convert.

If you don’t have previous data and you’re a new startup nonprofit, we suggest taking your prior 3 months of total fundraising and donations and number of potential donors as well as the number of donors who have already donated and average out all the numbers. Then shoot for at least a 10% increase on those numbers to give you a clear objective that's realistic and obtainable.

All of this needs to be written down and reviewed to understand how obtainable each goal is so you can understand what will need to be done in order to realistically reach each one of them.

Segment Your Annual Donor List

When you segment your donor list it’s a lot easier to interact with them on a more personalized level which which can dramatically increase conversions. You can divide your donor list into any number of marketing segments based on factors like fundraising giving history, interests, and demographics.

Once you have your lists completed, you’ll want to use them to your advantage and create different marketing stories for each list based on the data you have.

For instance, if you have a list on one-time donors, you can craft something like, “It’s the end of the year and we sure could use your help! We know you have already given us a gift this year and we’re so happy for your gift or contribution to our cause, it’s meant a lot to so many. But during the Christmas season, so many of our families will go without proper food and we’d love to ask you to give once more so we can make their season more enjoyable. Or better yet, start a recurring giving that gives all year long.” Okay, maybe not the best appeal, but you get the idea!

Craft a Compelling Year End Story

Crafting a compelling story that directly speaks to your donor and makes them feel something is not always the easiest thing to do. And you may want to look at all of your volunteers and staff to see who can write this type of copy. If no one is able to take on the project, it may be best to hire a writer. This is after all a kind of ‘sales letter’ and needs to convert your donor or prospect. So it is worth the investment.

What good ‘copy’ should be is something that explains why your nonprofit's mission matters and how their donations will make a real difference to someone or something. When you can, it’s great to use real stories and examples to evoke emotions and connect with your potential donors. You want to read it yourself and almost shed a tear, this is when you know you’ve nailed it.

Design Engaging Campaign Materials for Year-End Appeal 

Don’t forget, competition is also going to be the fiercest during the holiday season, so you really need to stand out. This is when you do pull out all the stops and create well designed materials that convey trust and commitment. You want to create visually appealing and informative campaign materials, including emails, social media graphics, videos, and even a landing page on your website.

Again, if this is something no one at your charity can do well or learn to do well, you should outsource your graphics to someone that knows what they’re doing. If your materials look like a 5th grader created them on their smartphone, how much trust do you think it would instill in a potential donor? And speaking of smartphones, make sure all graphics are mobile friendly!

Choose the Right Donation Platform and Marketing Tools 

People don’t always take into consideration some of the technical problems that can happen like their website going offline because too many people clicked your link in your email all at once. Or perhaps your site not allowing messaging, being mobile friendly or accepting different payment options so people end up not making a donation because they’re confused or don’t see what ways to send you money. While having your own website is a good thing, having a specialized nonprofit software platform is the ultimate game changer.social 

Seriously, as a charity you should be focusing on helping and obtaining donors, the tech aspect should be left to professionals like PayBee. Not only can we take the headaches out of your year-end fundraising campaigns, with so many tools and features we can offer you ways to accomplish your financial goals that you’re probably not even aware of. Just check out our free demo so you can view just how powerful our platform really is and why it can make the difference between a mediocre year end program, and one that surpasses every goal you’ve come up with.

Recruit and Train Volunteers

In order to get everything done on time and done well, you’re going to need either staff or volunteers to help carry the work load. But that also means they’ll need to be recruited and trained so they can learn to represent your charity the way you expect them to. Some of the things that you should be sure to train them on would be how to do outreach correctly and ask for the gift, creating, optimizing and launching social media promotions, and how to perform donor stewardship so your donors feel connected with your cause.

Always be sure to get a complete bio on each staff member and volunteer so you can learn what unique talents and skill sets each has. This can really come in handy if someone is an amazing writer, or a talented graphics person. This way you can offer them a position in your organization that inspires their creativity and you get the most form each individual on your team. PayBee has a special backend so you can enter all their details and then find the perfect person for a specific job using our advanced search options. There's even direct text messaging and email options.

Create a Campaign and Marketing Calendar for Fundraising Events

Everyone involved in your organization's final giving push should be equally aware of all the important dates for each campaign launch and campaign objective through an all-inclusive marketing calendar. That means having an actual calendar that everyone gets and is always up to date with all your upcoming and ongoing marketing campaigns. This calendar needs to include your entire campaign timeline, including key dates for launches, follow-ups, and the campaign's conclusion.

And yes, you can do all this with PayBee too. You can even send out notifications when something changes to the correct team members, or when something is rescheduled or canceled.

Leverage Social Media and Email Marketing for Fundraising 

If you think social media isn’t important to your overall success, not just your year-end plans, take a look at this quote from Classy. “Social media drives 57% of traffic to online fundraising campaign pages on Classy.” Now really think about that, that isn’t any old page on their site, that is an actual donation page that asks individuals to donate. That’s a huge number when it comes to traffic percentages asking for a donation! Furthermore, quoting from the source report titled, Global Trends in Giving Report, “29% of online donors say that social-media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give.”

Following up with email as a social marketing channel, that same report states that 27% of donors donate through an email marketing campaign when it comes to fundraising. That means email is only 2% behind social platforms like Facebook as far as fundraising effectiveness. So send personalized emails that appeal to your donor segments, highlighting the impact of their gift or contributions when you can and try to be as personal and caring as possible. 

Obviously both of these marketing tools or channels are extremely important in your year-end campaign appeals, and it’s best to have someone handle your social media marketing full time if at all possible. You need to be using these social platforms to build anticipation and engagement before the year-end campaign launch, as well as updating everyone on your progress throughout the campaign.

Try to demonstrate how some of the campaign revenue raised has already helped through specific social stories and crm data. You can do the same appeal through email or messaging and even places like YouTube if you’re lucky enough to have videos. Encourage everyone to commit to an online donation or gift during your campaign. Some social peer platforms like Facebook allow you to make appeals for a donation as well as collect donations all through their platform. You can find more about that here.

Showcase Transparency and Accountability

Not only is this required by law for any nonprofit, but it’s a fantastic way to connect with your donors and supporters while instilling confidence in your organization. By showing everyone how much financial assistance you’ve raised in your current campaigns and how your fundraising has impacted your cause and charity itself, you make others comfortable to make a donation as they feel you’re trustworthy and open.

And if you aren’t reaching your fundraising goals, again, it’s a chance to make an appeal for more donors to step up and help you reach your fundraising campaign goals so you can have the positive impact on your cause that’s so important. You can even do this on a daily basis all through December!

Engage Donors Through Events and Activities

Obviously your year-end events and activities are the heart and soul of your fundraising efforts. And they need to be carefully worked out to the last detail. If you’re using a platform like PayBee, there are many different events that you can host like a virtual galas or in-person events, webinars, or live streams to engage donors and share any updates on your fundraising you might have.

You should always consider hosting a kickoff event to generate excitement and momentum, and one of the best days to do this is Giving Tuesday for the reasons we quoted above. Then you can have a few smaller events which should all be a bit different in order to engage the most amount of people as possible. Remember, not everyone likes a silent auction campaign or even an in-person event. So think offering some variety in your fundraising. But don’t do fundraising or ask for a donation on a holiday or when most people are traveling!

Offer Matching Fundraising

One way to make double the donations is to find a sponsor that’s willing to match any donations you receive for a day or other specified amount of time. This is usually a business or corporate sponsor since the amount of matching funds can sometimes be quite large. This is when you should reach out to your board and ask them to help find some entity that would be willing to match any donation for an agreed upon amount of time. Just don’t forget to clearly communicate the terms and deadlines of these "Double your impact today!" donor opportunities to all of your supporters.

Monitor Progress and Adjust Final Tactics

Monitoring your fundraising's progress is super important because if you realize that you’re numbers are off target or something in your marketing is stalling, you can quickly pivot and try something different in order to get your plan back on track. During the month of December we recommend that you do this daily or at least every other day if you're a large charity as long as the end giving campaign is in progress. Constantly be looking at what's working and what's not so you can adjust when need be. This will also help you with future fundraising events.

Express Gratitude and Follow-Up

Always thank your donors promptly and sincerely, regardless of the donation size! Don’t wait until after the season to express how much they mean to your cause and organization. In fact, if they are okay with it, thanking them on social channels is a great way to demonstrate to others that your cause is being funded by real people, and it makes your donors feel as special as they really are. Just be sure they are okay being put into the spotlight before flooding your social media accounts with the good news!

Also, don’t forget to follow up with personalized messages to update donors on the campaign's success and how their contributions are being used. These can wait until after the season’s rush if you must and can be included in your giving statement which we'll go over in more detail below. Just don’t wait too long. Use these follow ups as a ways to build a stronger relationship with your donors and make them feel they matter to your charity and cause.

Evaluate Your Fundraising and Learn

After the year-end rush is over and all your fundraising efforts are completed, it’s time to take stock of what all happened. In every year-end rush, some things are bound to go right, while other may go very wrong. Whether it was a donors event that went awry or some sort of glitch during a peer campaign, you need to be aware of what the problems were and why they happened in the first place. And just as important, what went right and why so the next time you can duplicate and perhaps even improve on your year-end results.

Remember that a successful end-of-year giving campaign often require a combination of traditional and digital marketing efforts, effective storytelling, and the very best donor engagement strategies you can muster. Just be sure to always tailor your year-end approach according to your nonprofit's unique mission and audience for the best results.

End-of-Year Giving Statement or Giving Letter

Although these are labeled as year-end statement or letters, they are usually sent out in early January. These statements are a time to show appreciation and give an overview of all the donor has given and done for your nonprofit throughout the previous year, as well as a comprehensive statement of what your charity effectively accomplished due to their generosity. This is a great opportunity to make your donors feel special and continue with donor stewardship as far as relationship building. This giving letter should also include receipts for all the donations your donors have given your organization in the previous year so they can be submitted to the IRS in their tax returns.

6 Year-End Giving Statistics to Motivate You!

Here are the top 6 year-end giving statistics every nonprofit should know and understand as they demonstrate clearly just how important year-end fundraising can be for any nonprofit.

1. For many nonprofits, the last week of the year is a huge boost for their revenues with many claiming they generate an average of 47% of their overall annual budget at this time. Just imagine not taking advantage of this seasonal opportunity and the impact it can have on your own nonprofit.

2. More than 10% of all charitable giving is done in just the three last days of the year, while the month of December accounts for more than 30% of all philanthropic giving for the entire year combined making it the most important months for most charities.

3. More than 50% of U.S. households make some sort of donation to a charity during the year, and in more affluent households, this number increases to 81% making a massive pool of charitable donations to go after, although this pool of financing is on a downward trend according to this report. .

4. 77% of donors give to organizations in their own communities giving local charities an excellent chance to compete within their own locations. It’s estimated that only 33% of donors donate to charities outside their own areas.

5. More than 37 million adults in the U.S. were in some way directly involved with GivingTuesday which raised over $3.1 billion for charities just in the U.S. alone. Globally there are more than 85 countries connected to GivingTuesday with national movements giving all charities a chance to benefit from this day of giving.

6. Most donors don’t just support to one charity and call it a day. According to Generations, the average donor spreads their donations to 6.2 charities giving all charities a chance to make a difference. One tip here, if you have a charity, find non-competing ones and support their fundraising events in person, you may end up finding a few donors for your own charity.

Intensify Your Year-end Annual Giving With PayBee!

Now that you’ve seen the statistics and see just how important the end of the year is for your nonprofit, it really helps to have the right tools and resources to make all of your hard work easier and more effective. That’s where having an all inclusive software platform like PayBee can really pay off.

We specialize in helping establish and grow nonprofits like yours by offering the most inclusive platform in the industry as well as support that is second to none. From live online events to offline auctions, we offer you everything you could possibly need to amplify your fundraising capabilities.

Add to that a complete back-end that can track and manage employees and volunteers, to communicating with donors and staff, we have the most complete system specifically designed for nonprofits anywhere.

You can even try out our free demo right now to see how we can help you build the best year-end giving campaign you’ve ever experienced. Try us out right now and we’re sure you’ll agree, partnering with PayBee is the advantage you’ve been looking for.

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Bill Allen

Bill Allen is an expat that has been travelling the world for the past 25 years. He received his MA in writing in New York too long ago to remember, but has been writing on all sorts of subjects far varied publications ever since. When he isn't writing he enjoys meditating and working on his own website, UpscaleDrinks.com. Feel free to connect with him any time.