Year-End Giving | The Ultimate Nonprofit Fundraising Guide

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 “busy charitable season,” and it can be make or break your annual goals.

It’s time to get the most from your year-end giving!

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, the team at OneCause pulled together this Year-End Ultimate Fundraising Guide. It covers everything from tips on how to engage donors to staying sane (well, we can try).

Let’s get started!

1. Year-End Giving Statistics

With numerous nonprofits vying for a limited donor share of wallet within a short timeframe, there is immense pressure to capture end-of-year attention and donations.

The rise of Giving Tuesday has created a frenzied and packed pace of giving from mid-November through New Year’s!

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 fundraising race to the finish, nonprofits have an opportunity to leverage the final month of the year.

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

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

  • Year-end campaigns are the backbone of almost one-third of today’s nonprofit revenue.
  • It’s essential to spend time planning and optimizing the giving experience, 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 at year-end, there is no denying that having a stellar and standout campaign is key.

  • Millions of donations flow in the last few days of December.
  • By making giving easy, streamlined, and fun, nonprofits can capitalize on the giving spirit of donors.

62% of social donors are motivated by easy giving.

According to our Giving Experience Research, today’s donors support causes for different reasons. These “giving motivators” are key to unlocking giving in your donor base at year-end. Here are the top motivators by generation. Be sure to tap into them in your campaigns!

  • Boomers/Matures: 1) Trust the organization, 2) Giving is easy, 3) Care about the mission
  • Gen X: 1) Giving is easy, 2) Care about the mission, 3) Trust the organization
  • Millennials: 1) Care about the mission, 2) Clear how donation is used, 3) Donation would make a difference
  • Gen Z: 1) Giving is easy, 2) Care about the mission, 3) Trust the organization

25% of Giving Tuesday donors say they were inspired to give by social media posts.

A great multi-channel marketing strategy is a huge differentiator in today’s crowded giving field. Reaching donors on different channels and spreading awareness for your year-end campaign pays off.

  • 55% of social donors hear about giving opportunities through friends & family.
  • 21% hear via email, and 31% learn about giving opportunities in-person.
  • Design a marketing plan that segments your communication by channel (email, in-person, social, website, etc).
  • Be sure have a mix of direct outreach activities as well as ambassador outreach.

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 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, your nonprofit can meet a large portion of your year-end donation goals in just a few months.

In order to have success, you must have more than an inkling about what you’re going to do come October. This means:

  • Use the summer months to get a plan in place.
  • Engage with donors to get them in the loop.
  • Test out new digital strategies and online fundraising software.
  • Plan multi-channel marketing campaigns.
  • Leverage social networks and ambassadors to spread the word.

2. Know your goals.

Goal setting is a significant part of any nonprofit fundraising campaign, but it can be especially critical for year-end success. 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 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 to 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!

Versatile online giving software

4. Go all in on social media.

While social media has been a boon to nonprofit fundraisers, year-end giving is a particularly sweet spot. Thanks to the power of trending hashtags, mentions, and topics, you can create a buzz for your year-end giving campaigns to capture the attention of a wide audience.

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 maximizes your campaign reach and ensures you don’t miss out on any donations.

5. Facilitate two-way conversations.

One of the reasons 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. Focus on donor engagement.

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

The right nonprofit fundraising platform makes it easy for nonprofit teams to plan out campaigns in advance, foster deeper engagement, empower donors to spread the word to their networks, and encourage giving via multiple fundraising avenues.

From online giving sites to personal fundraising pages, texted based giving,  online donation forms, nonprofit fundraising is meeting today’s donors where they are. The most successful nonprofit organizations are going to be the ones that have the right tools to reach donors and unlock generosity.

3. Year-End Giving Calendar

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 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. As you’re planning and preparing for your 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? Place 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.
  • 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. Start 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 Fundraising Platform today!