The Importance of End-of-Year Giving

24 Nov 2015

End-of-year giving is a tradition for most nonprofit organizations. It’s an opportunity to capture final revenue before the end of the calendar (and sometimes fiscal) year. 

Giving Tuesday (often stylized as #GivingTuesday) is the newly designated annual day of giving, the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday. Giving Tuesday began in 2012 as a response to the heightened commercialism around Black Friday and holiday shopping. In three short years, it has evolved to a global movement that has engaged over 30,000 organizations worldwide.

Giving Tuesday hopes passion will be contagious during a busy time of year and often kicks off the nonprofit season of end-of-year giving.

And so far, the results prove it out. According to Network for Good, in 2014, there was an increase of 146% in Giving Tuesday fundraising from 2013 and a 58% growth in participation among nonprofits. The data further revealed that nonprofits that participated in Giving Tuesday out-raised their peers by 500% (depending on the point of comparison used).

Should you join the Giving Tuesday bandwagon?

Current data doesn’t show whether participation in Giving Tuesday increases an organization’s total end-of-year giving or if it simply shifts the fundraising to a specific day.

However, there are several benefits to participating in Giving Tuesday. There is a confirmed global audience that prepares and plans to participate during Giving Tuesday for their end-of-year giving. The “event” is defined, publicity is built in, and it receives global attention. Your organization has been given a platform that you should embrace. Giving Tuesday illustrates a movement that empowers people to interact with organizations that mean the most to them.

The savvy marketing team will utilize Giving Tuesday as a kickoff point to an organization’s larger end of year giving campaign. The last few months of the calendar year can be critical to nonprofit fundraising goals. In 2014, Giving Tuesday raised $45.7 million – that was an increase of 63% from 2013.

You know your donors inboxes are going to be filled to the brim this December, but that doesn’t mean you should cut short your campaign and hope for the best. It may take several messages before people give the campaign a look. A well-planned series of emails allows you multiple touches and the chance to connect and convert a larger number of people. When done right, follow up emails often outperform the initial email. A message that never gets sent raises $0, so fundraisers should be looking for every opportunity to send a solicitation.

Multi-platform communication plans are imperative to successful end of year campaigns. Digital components like email and social media are popular, but direct mail, newsletters, and press releases are also valuable resources for increased awareness during a busy message time.

Utilize the existing media buzz and press coverage around Giving Tuesday to your advantage – jump on the bandwagon! Send an eAppeal to your existing database of supporters urging them to support you on Giving Tuesday. Use existing social media channels in place – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – and continue the conversation with blog posts and email communications. Communicate often with your constituents during this busy time of year through a variety of channels.

End of Year and Beyond

The momentum of Giving Tuesday can carry through the end of December if you continue to touch your supporters and donors in meaningful ways. Ensure you are not asking and re-asking the same supporters by culling your audience and mailing lists as you go. Remove donors from communications as soon as they have donated. You do not want to increase your opt-out rate by continuing to ask.

Talk to your large gift donors with direct content. Acknowledge they have made an impact in the past with their gift and that it was appreciated while illustrating how their support is still needed. But speak specifically to your younger audience too. Let them know no donation is too small. And illustrate how $5, $10 and $25 translates to action within the organization.

Donors still love thank you cards, holiday cards, handwritten notes, and thank you calls. As an added bonus, offline gratitude helps you stand out from the crowd. An immediate thank you and recognition is important and let’s them know you care! Thank you still goes a long way.

Cultivate your donor audience and keep in touch. Don’t wait another full year to connect with them. Track when and where they gave on your end of year communication plan and group them accordingly for future fundraising communication. Use source codes to track links in messages and, if applicable, use various donation forms for different audience segments.

Follow up in the New Year with stats. How much did you raise? What will that allow you to do in the new year? Let them know how much their donation will impact your organization’s mission and program goals.

Annual fundraising planning must include end of year campaigns and fundraising objectives. The season of giving, global days of giving like Giving Tuesday and the direct tax-deductible donation are all platforms to base your ask on. And the effort and time your organization puts into an end of year campaign will start your new year off on the right foot.