It's the first business day of the fourth quarter. Doubtless, there is plenty to do between now and the end of the year, but you should have your sights set on that big end-of-year fundraising push. From pulling LYBUNT lists to planning your December digital campaigns, there is a lot to prepare. Here are a few facts and tips to remind you how important December is and to help you prepare for a strong close to 2022.
Fact #1: 31% of all charitable giving happens in December
You have probably heard this stat before but don’t let it slip by you. One month of the year accounts for a third of overall charitable giving. Maybe it’s not 31% of your budget, but it is—or should be!—a major revenue month for you. What's more, a significant portion of that 31% (about 30% again) comes in the last three days of the month.
Suffice it to say, the end-of-year giving push is important, and getting it right requires planning. Your December revenue gains don’t happen because of what you do in December, but because of what you do now—and have been doing throughout the year.
Before you find yourself behind the eight ball in December, you want to start thinking about end-of-year now . . . if not yesterday.
Fact #2: December 30th and 31st are more important than Giving Tuesday
Kindful found in 2019 that the total amount of donations made through Kindful donations pages on December 30th and 31st was nearly 3.6 times the amount given on Giving Tuesday. Moreover, the average gift was about 2.5 times higher.
Market Smart notes that most fundraisers put more effort into fundraising on Giving Tuesday than they do on Dec. 30th and 31st. We get it, it’s New Year’s Eve! Who wants to work—right? Well, hopefully you’ve planned ahead and there’s not too much work to do . . . but either way, these two days are crucial for your annual contributions revenue. If you're preparing for Giving Tuesday now, don't cash in all your chips on the fabricated "holiday"—stay focused on December, too.
Fact #3: Most nonprofits send their emails at the same times
NextAfter has found that most year-end emails are being sent at the same times. The busy hours are (roughly speaking) 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Central time. Remember: you’re not the only one making a year-end push, and you’re not the only one sending out lots of year-end emails!
To stand out, send it a little earlier or a little later. I know half the reason I read my favorite daily newsletter every morning is that it comes in before 6:00 a.m. I get plenty of mid-morning emails after that, but I’ll let you guess how many of those get read.
And when I see “last chance” emails at 10:00 a.m. on the 31st, I know it’s not my last chance . . . keep your last chance until it’s really the last chance—that is to say, much later on New Year’s Eve!
Tip #1: Plan, Plan, Plan
You’ve heard us say it before and you’ll hear us say it again: you have to plan. This goes for every aspect of fundraising, but it is particularly important for that December push. The end of the year is busy, not just at work but at home too! It can be incredibly daunting to juggle vacation days, family visits, budget reconciliations, and hitting your ambitious year-end goal.
But here’s the thing: that goal doesn’t have to be so daunting.
To be effective in December, plan at the beginning of the year and revisit your plan quarter by quarter. You should already have a strategy headed into Q4 and into December. And part of that plan should have you doing much of the December work now, in October and November. Use an integrated calendar to plan these things out well in advance so no one is caught by surprise.
Tip #2: It’s not about you
You might be feeling the urge to tell your donors all that you have done this year. You want them to know everything that your organization has accomplished so they feel compelled to give to such an amazing organization. And more than likely, there’s lots for you to tell!
Stop right there. It’s not about you. This “peacock fundraising,” as my colleague Iain Bernhoft calls it, is to be avoided like the plague. There is no room for it in your fundraising communications in general, and especially not in your year-end solicitations.
Think about your donor. Show them that they are a part of what you are doing, that they, in fact, are the hero of your story. Invite them to achieve something, to accomplish something, to do something—not simply to enable you to do something. That doesn’t inspire. Ask them to—well, to do whatever it is you do. That will inspire.
Tip #3: Say “thank you”
Your donors have sustained your mission through another year. They deserve to be thanked! Again: your donor is the hero of this story. They deserve your gratitude. That means thank-you notes, emails, phone calls, and more. This should be happening not just in December, but preemptively, too. Here’s a great way to set yourself up for success in December, that month of months: spend October and November saying thanks and giving updates. Give your donors a warm feeling about your organization right before you head into the most charitable month of the year.
And don’t let the turning of the calendar year keep you from thanking the donors who give on December 31st. A new year simply means a new opportunity to cultivate that relationship. Once they give the gift, the relationship is not over, and it’s not paused.
Say thank you and begin planning next steps for when you’ll see them again.
Stay tuned to Philanthropy Daily for the rest of Q4 for more tips and strategies for planning a successful end-of-year campaign—and Giving Tuesday! Share your favorite ideas—or most pressing questions—in the comments.