The statistics have been consistent — for total charitable giving, December dominates with approximately 30% of giving occurring in the last month of the year, with the majority of that giving in the last three days of the month. Giving Tuesday continues to grow every year and is beginning to match December 31 as the powerhouse day of philanthropy.
But, will this year be the same?
We are living through a global pandemic with high rates of unemployment. We are also experiencing a divisive political climate, civil unrest, calls for social justice, and a presidential election that is less than two months away.
We typically advise that year-end fundraising should begin after Labor Day. This year, it is even more critical to start fundraising now because we do not know what the coming months will bring.
If your only strategy is a letter sent after Thanksgiving, it won’t be enough to break through the noise — not even in a “normal” year.
Nonprofits should develop and enact a year-end giving game plan. The following list can serve as a strategic starting point for the coming months.
- Start communicating with your donors now so that December is a follow up and not a first ask. Think about year-end fundraising as a multi-channel effort of direct mail, e-mail, social media, phone calls, and in-person asks when it is safe to do so.
- Ensure that 100% of your board members have given and ask your board to support engagement efforts through cultivation and stewardship.
- Focus on renewing your current donors, re-engaging lapsed donors, and inviting your volunteers to give financially in addition to their gifts of time. Now is the time to solidify those donor relationships because they are the closest to your mission.
- Don’t wait until Giving Tuesday to ask your social media followers for support.
- Communicate with donors — not just in an appeal, but with stewardship language that shares how your organization has responded to these challenging times. Remember to keep the narrative about how their support helps you meet community need, not the budget gap you are trying to fill.
There are many lessons that we’ve learned this year, one of which is that the world can turn upside down in an instant. Do not assume that year-end giving behavior will be the same this year as in years past and do not wait to ask your believers for support.
Our hope for you is that your fundraising goals have been met by Thanksgiving and that December is a time for reflection on how this unprecedented year has unfolded.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO