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Before the ball drops: Fundraising tips for the end of the year

December 31st. The last hurrah of the year. And, the last chance for your donors to make a gift to your organization that will provide them with a convenient tax deduction in the new year.

This is a great time of year to put together a year-end fundraising campaign. And, although large year-end campaigns may start as early as September, today’s post is all about the urgent, last-minute asks and provides a list of things that you can still do in time to make a final push to donors on and around December 31.

The facts

Did you know that one-third of all donations come in during the month of December and that 12% of all giving happens during the last three days of the year? With stats like these, even the smallest fundraising push to close out your year can yield success.

Treat December 31 as a planned event much like you would Giving Tuesday. These five areas will be helpful to concentrate on as you put together your year-end asks.

1. Map out your story

First, decide on the focus of your content and the story you will tell donors at the end of the year. Are there great things that happened because of donors like them this year? Is there a program that is up for renewal and with the support of a few more donors you’ll be able to offer it again in the new year? Do you have a success story that you can highlight as a way to showcase an individual benefiting from your services? Plan your story, your content and your CTA (call to action) to start.

2. Customize your audiences

While you may not have time to get a direct mail appeal out before December 31, you sure can customize audiences and lean on email marketing and social media channels to reach your donors. Group your audiences into several buckets and tweak the content ever so slightly to match up with their needs. For example:

  • Ask to your volunteers. Volunteers are twice as likely to donate than non-volunteers, so don’t forget to craft messaging to that audience as you craft your December 31 asks.
  • Ask last year’s donors. Likewise, look at your 2018 donors—run a report so that you can customize a message to those who have not yet donated to your organization this year.
  • Ask lapsed donors. You likely have a list of those who gave years ago but haven’t made another gift since. Pull them into a group on their own and craft a message specifically to them.

3. Make a specific ask

Be honest about your ask; give dollar amount options and tie it to how those dollar amounts can directly affect your cause. Use short sentences and powerful verbs. As you start to develop your touchpoints (see point 4) you may even have different asks for each touchpoint. Another idea? Think of your year-end campaign as a series of days or dates. Something like #7ReasonsToGive where, for seven days leading up to December 31, you provide a new reason to give with a link to your online giving landing page that mirrors those same messages (or has all 7 reasons listed together).

4. Develop your sequential touchpoints

While you may not be in the office at the end of the year, the beauty of developing your touchpoints ahead of time is that you can create your content now and schedule it to automatically post or reach donors later. Think about how many touchpoints you want to put out for the end of the year. Initial asks, mid-point campaign reminders and last chance reminders are key during this time.

5. Lean on digital channels and online giving

While any donation that comes in at the end of the year is great, this is the time where it’s most convenient to plan your sequential touchpoints above by way of email and social media channels. While each organization is different, below is one example on how you could set those touchpoints up and have them automatically go out on the dates you specify. In this example, we’ve assumed a 10-day campaign. Don’t have 10 days? No problem! You can remove some of the suggested touchpoints and make a shorter campaign work for you. And remember, while many of us are not in the office on these dates, you can preschedule everything ahead of time!

December 18

Prep your messaging, images and ensure the donation landing page is in check.

December 20

Create social media content and email content; pre-schedule content to post live according to dates below.

December 22

Campaign launch! Day 1 provides introductory content by way of social media channels and email marketing.

December 23 – 26

Campaign days 2-5. Our suggestion (unless your organization has ties to holidays that fall within these dates) is to use social media for the majority of your content/donor asks during these days of the campaign.

December 27

Day 6! Get another email reminder sent out and use the same messaging across social media.

December 28-29

Days 7 and 8; stay strong with social media. Yes, daily posting will be helpful during your year-end campaign push.

December 30

We’re coming to the home stretch now on day 9. Another email should go out (only 48 hours to give! The year is almost over!) coupled with supporting social media content.

December 31

Last chance to give! The final push goes out on email and all social media channels. If you’ve been able to track the success of the year-end campaign, this could be a nice time to speak to how much has been raised in such a short period of time.

Don’t forget to account for automated thank-you messages and email responses to donors that make donations during this time. It’s crucial to thank them within that 24 to 48-hour period of time from when they made their online gift, even if you’re not physically there to do it. You can follow-up with hand-written or signed cards in the mail when you return in the new year!

As you can see, even if you don’t have a massive year-end giving campaign in the works already, there’s still time to get something going and be a part of those final three days of giving. Take pieces of the above strategies and tailor them to fit your needs. Wishing you success as you close out this year and head into the new year!

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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