Year-End Giving | The Ultimate Nonprofit Fundraising Guide

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When most people think about the end of the year, they think of holidays, festivities and folly. However, for nonprofits, the end of the year season takes on a different meaning.

Year-end is known by fundraisers, as the “charitable season,” and it can be a make or break time for your charitable cause.

Are you ready to make the most of year-end giving this year?

Trying to meet end-of-year goals can become overwhelming for even the most seasoned fundraising professional. Thanks to online fundraising software, social media and mobile tools, end-of-year giving doesn’t have to feel daunting.

To help reach your fundraising goals and maximize year-end potential, the team at OneCause pulled together this Year-End Ultimate Fundraising Guide. We’ve assembled tips on everything from engaging donors to staying sane.

Let’s get started!

Year-End Giving Statistics

1. Year-End Giving Statistics

With so many nonprofits around the world competing for a finite amount of donations in a set time frame, it’s no wonder the pressure is seriously on when it comes to end-of-year giving.

The rise of Giving Tuesday since 2011 has created a frenzied and packed pace of giving from late November through New Years!

Here’s a few year-end giving facts and tips that matter:

30% of all nonprofit donations happen during the month of December.

While end-of year giving has become an industry buzzword over the last few years, nonprofits still have an opportunity to leverage the final month of the year.

  • An incredible percentage of donations – upwards of 30% in fact – happen during the month of December alone.
  • This means that the effort and strategic thought a nonprofit team puts into year-end campaigns could pay off in a big way.

28% of nonprofits raise up to 50% of their annual donations during year-end campaigns.

Statistic shows just how critical year-end campaign planning can be for nonprofits, with these campaigns making up half on annual donations..

  • Year-end campaigns are often the backbone of almost one-third of today’s nonprofit revenue.
  • This means they require significant planning and input to ensure fundraising success.

12% of all nonprofit giving happens within the last few days of the year.

When it comes to connecting with donors and supporters during year-end campaigns, there is no denying that the competition for an audience is fierce.

  • Millions of donations will flow in the last few days of December.
  • By refocusing efforts and making a significant promotional and marketing push during the last few days of the year, nonprofits can capitalize on the giving spirit of donors and capture this market.

67% of donors make donations based on the recommendations of friends and family.

Although we’d all like to think people spend long hours researching and learning about the causes they support, it’s the reality of being a nonprofit in the modern world – people are going to give to causes that they know nothing about.

  • Instead of doing the work, most donors (67% of them!) will simply give to a nonprofit because that is what their friends or family members are doing.
  • 25% of Giving Tuesday donors say they were inspired to give by social media posts.
  • This is why social promotion and networking is so critical. By giving your supporters the content and tools they need to share information about your cause with their networks, you’re increasing the chance of new donations.

December 30 and 31 are the biggest giving days of the year.

Based on research from Kindful, the last two days of the year produced 567% and 1,212% more revenue in 2019 than on non-giving days. Surprisingly, they even produced 2.4 times more revenue than Giving Tuesday.

  • In 2019, the total number of gifts increased by 312% and 781% on December 30 and December 31 compared to the average giving day.
  • In 2019, the average single gift amount increased by 62% on December 30 and 49% on December 31 compared to the average giving day.
  • In 2019, the total gift revenue increased by 567% on December 30 and 1,212% on December 31 compared to the average giving day.
  • In 2019, December 31 generated 2.4 times as much revenue as Giving Tuesday.

Year-End Giving Guide

2. Year-End Giving Guide

When it comes to year-end giving, there is a ton of content out there that nonprofits can turn towards. The sheer volume of information can easily get overwhelming for even the most confident fundraisers.

That’s why we’ve distilled this ultimate fundraising guide into six easy-to-implement steps, making it easy for nonprofit fundraising teams to be successful and optimize year-end donations.

1. Start planning early.

We get it – you have plenty of other campaigns and busy work to focus on throughout the year. Why should year-end giving get all the attention? Simply put, year-end giving is lucrative.

With the right strategy and the right plan in place, nonprofits can meet a large portion of their year-end donation goals in just a few months.

But, in order to have this kind of success, nonprofits must have more than an inkling about what they’re going to do come October. This means:

  • Engaging with donors to get them in the loop
  • Testing out new digital functionality and fundraising software
  • Planning high-concept marketing campaigns, and
  • Leveraging social media

2. Know your goals.

Goal setting is a significant part of any nonprofit fundraising campaign, but it can be especially critical for year-end campaigns because there are so many variables. As you plan your year-end campaign, have your team answer:

  • Where did our year-end revenue come from the previous year?
  • How much growth is expected year-over-year?
  • What goals do we have for existing donor gifts?
  • What goals do we have for new donor gifts?
  • What are our goals for matching gifts?

Having these goals in mind – and deciding on them early – will help inform your year-end campaigns down the road and set your team up for success.

3. Have a handful of campaigns in mind.

This is the bread-and-butter of your year-end giving strategy. How exactly are you going to engage and entice people into making a donation?

Year-end giving is the perfect time to get creative with campaigns and leverage best practices like:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising: Turn your year-end campaign into a competition between your supporters or teams as raise more revenue in a shorter amount of time.
  • Ambassador fundraising: Appoint Ambassadors for your year-end campaigns to give a face to your cause and add the power of social fundraising.
  • Online giving pages: A tried-and-true fundraising method, online giving is the perfect complement to make giving easy, social and fun!

OneCause Online Giving

4. Go all-in on social media.

While social media has been a boon to modern nonprofit fundraisers, year-end giving is a particularly sweet spot. Thanks to trending hashtags, mentions, and topics, year-end giving campaigns can easily become ‘viral’ seemingly overnight.

Social media is also the perfect place for donors to connect with each other and engage with people who support the same cause.

As you’re building your nonprofit’s year-end social strategy, keep a few things in mind.

  • Make sure your content is easily shareable and re-postable.
  • Have a strong hashtag or tags in mind that will make it easy for supporters to find you.
  • Create a consistent posting schedule that encompasses the entire end of the year (Oct. – Dec.).
  • Provide sample posts for your board, top supporters and Ambassadors, to generate more social reach.

Having a strong social media strategy for year-end helps maximize your campaign reach and ensures you don’t miss out on any donations.

5. Facilitate two-way conversations.

One reason that year-end giving has become such a hit is that during the holiday season people become so much more thankful of what they have been giving and are more aware of those in need.

This leads to many donors and supporters reaching out organically to nonprofit organizations looking for ways to become involved. Nonprofit’s must not let these conversations go to waste.

A few best practices include:

  • Try to respond to or ‘like’ as many social media mentions as possible.
  • Leverage an automation software to automatically send thank you emails to donors.
  • Host an in-person event, such as a gala or auction, to engage with supporters face-to-face.

6. Enable multi-channel engagement.

Thankfully, nonprofits are no longer living in the dark ages of technology, which makes managing something like an end-of-year campaign that much easier.

The right nonprofit fundraising platform makes it easy for nonprofit teams to plan out campaigns in advance, automate processes, empower donors to spread the word to their networks, and engage with supporters via multiple channels.

From email to direct mail to text messaging to social media, nonprofit fundraising is changing. The most successful nonprofit organizations are going to be the ones that have the right tools to be able to change alongside this phenomenon.


Year-End Giving Calendar

3. Year-End Giving Calendar

Even though the phrase ‘year-end’ might cause one to think that the giving season only lasts for a few months, planning a successful year-end giving strategy takes the full year.

Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are running year-end campaigns at the exact same time, which means it’s going to take a well-thought-out plan to beat out the competition and win over donors.

If there’s one thing to remember when it comes to year-end campaigns, it’s that planning is everything.

Here is a quick calendar overview of what your team should be doing every single month:

January, February & March

Once the new year starts, end-of-year giving doesn’t necessarily stop all together.  A good new year follow-up plan ensures you continue to steward donor relationships, with multiple donor touchpoints.

Remember, fundraising is a journey with your donors not a transaction!

  • Follow-up with and thank those who donated to your year-end campaign.
  • Connect them to your mission with human stories and images.
  • Communicate the impact of their gifts and how they helped.
  • Ask them to share the campaign results with their networks.

This is what the best year-end giving campaigns are able to do: easily pivot into ongoing, yearlong conversations. Nonprofits should look at year-end campaigns not as simply a way to raise a large amount of donations at once but as a touchpoint to continue donors conversations and relationships year-round.

April, May & June

This time next year should be full-on planning for end-of-year 2020. As you’re planning and preparing for 2019 year-end giving, start thinking ahead the full calendar year.

Are there any campaigns or functionality you’d like to roll out but don’t have the time or the bandwidth? Stick them on the calendar for next year to give your team something to look forward to and to work towards.

July, August & September

During the months right before the year-end giving ‘season’, it’s all about planning, planning, and more planning. Now is the time to:

  • Start mapping out your campaigns
  • Create your social media plans
  • Prep for start dates
  • Implement new software you’ll be using
  • Set goals, analyze past trends and get armed with data!

This early on, it’s also a good idea to ‘put a bug’ in your donors and supporter’s ears so they know what to look for over the next few months. Sending out small teasers and announcements is the perfect way to build excitement for the larger campaigns to come!

October, November & December

The end of the year is finally here, and with it come the biggest campaigns of the year. Starting off in October is when the majority of nonprofits start their promotion.

So gear up, and get get ready to hit the promotion and marketing campaigns full-force. This includes:

  • Execute campaign plans
  • Conduct email, direct mail, phone and in-person donor outreach
  • Arm your board, top supporters, and Ambassadors with campaign materials and goals
  • Start social media promotion and outreach
  • Communicate progress
  • Leverage local business and corporate partners to promote matching gifts.

Kick-off your year-end campaigns with the introduction of a new testimonial series or by hosting a gala or auction for your supporters. If you’re leveraging any kind of P2P campaign, now is the time to get your participants set up and ready to go.

In November, Giving Tuesday will most likely take up the majority of your fundraising focus.

After the excitement of Giving Tuesday, nonprofit fundraisers can use the holiday spirit of December to target donors and appeal to the altruistic message of the holiday season. Again, make sure your social media presence is constantly updated and optimized to promote social sharing.


Want to learn more about how your nonprofit can maximize year-end giving potential? Take a test drive of the OneCause platform today!