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The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit End-of-Year Giving

An individual is giving a holiday gift to their friend to show compassion and care.

Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and jumpstarts the end-of-year giving season. In the US, more than 30% of annual giving typically occurs during December, with 10% on the last three days of the year! Let’s take a look at why year-end giving is so popular, and how you can make the most of any end-of-year giving appeals.


It’s Time to Start Planning Your Year-End Appeals


For many nonprofits, end-of-year giving campaigns launch in September or October, and around 28% will earn up to 50% of their annual funds from their year-end ask! Why? People are generally in a giving mood towards the end of the year!

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that charitable gifts are tax deductible, making these last-minute gifts one of the best ways someone can end the year’s tax period. This also contributes to the fact that average gift sizes during the last few months of the year are 53% and 62% higher for Americans and Canadians, respectively.

If you’re already working on some end-of-year benchmarks, consider another important factor: in 2021, the US charitable tax breaks have been expanded. Single filers can deduct up to $300 in above-the-line charitable deductions, or $600 for married couples. The charitable contribution limitation has also been increased, and corporations are able to deduct charitable gifts up to 25% of their taxable income—up from 10%.

It’s clear that year-end appeals have tremendous potential. Now, let’s talk about some end-of-year campaign ideas.


Nonprofit End-of-Year Giving Tips


1.   Set Realistic Goals

Did you have a 2020 year-end giving campaign? If so, now’s a great time to revisit it. Use this data to guide future directions, and help you determine which tools should be used, or replaced.

Look at the total amount raised; the big contributors; which strategies were most often responded to; and what areas of the campaign were unsuccessful. Get together with relevant stakeholders and use this information to help develop an end-of-year giving plan for 2021, starting with a realistic fundraising amount.


2.   Think About The Big Picture

When it comes to your end-of-year giving goals, you’ll want to consider where you’re at — and where you want to be. How’s your budget? Are your operations achieving all established goals? Where is there room for improvement?

Then, think about where you want to be. What could make a successful campaign fund? How could your mission be furthered if you meet 50% of your fundraising goal? 100%? Doing so will provide your nonprofit with more clarity surrounding the year-end giving efforts, and it will ensure that you stay motivated and on track for the final fundraising push.


3.   Consider Your Audience

Before exploring year-end giving themes and deciding on activities, consider who you’re trying to reach. Also consider that 64% of donations are made by women, and 84% of Millennials — who make up 25.9% of the population — give to charity. However, unlike Gen Xers, they rarely respond to voice calls or email requests.


4.   Spend Time with Theme and Messaging

With a better understanding of who you hope to reach with your year-end giving campaign, you can start working on the messaging and targeted appeals.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want your campaign to be as personable as possible. Ensure that messaging is clear and concise, but also interesting and incites emotion. The recipient should be the center of all messaging. They should feel like you are personally speaking to them, and it should be clear that they are crucial to your organization.

If your nonprofit is centered around people, try to pull out a single individual for an impact story, so that your audience can make a connection. This fosters more empathy and demonstrates the benefits of a contribution.


5.   Make the Ask

You know your audience, theme, and messaging- now select the communication channel to get it out there. You can go the traditional route with an end-of-year giving email or go big with a video. While phone calls and in-person meetings might not be the most practical, social media and personalized letters can help to reach your younger and older audience segments, respectively.

Regardless of which channel(s) you work with, be sure to focus on the donor and their impact. Use the power of storytelling and visual content to evoke emotions, and always include a clear call to action.


6.   Follow Through

Sometimes we all need a little reminder, but there is a fine line between a friendly poke and borderline harassment. Many recommend a maximum of 5 touches towards a single person during the year-end campaign. Given the tremendous amount of donations that pour in on the last few days of the year, continue with your campaign appeals until the very last minutes of 2021!


7.   Be Thankful

Recognize your donors’ efforts and ensure that they feel valued and appreciated. A personalized thank-you should be sent shortly after a donation is received. Be sure that your audience and community feels valued, even those who are unable to give this year. End-of-year giving is great, but forming lasting relationships is even better.


End-of-Year Giving: A Summary

As 2021 wraps up, it provides tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the spirit of giving to further your nonprofit’s efforts. Even if you only get to planning your end-of-year giving efforts in November, there’s still time to optimize them for the greatest impact. Just be sure to consider your previous efforts, where you want to end up, and how to ensure your donors feel recognized and valued.


Learn more about how Donor Compass™ can help you with your fundraising strategy here.