Deadline Looming: Year end Fundraising

Posted: Oct 10th, 2017 Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Ok, maybe the deadline isn't looming quite yet, or at least, not as ominous as a super villain's doomsday device, but you know it is time to start planning your year-end campaign. 

Statistics show some of you are go-getters, with 7.8 percent of organizations starting their year-end giving plans as early as September. But if you’re like the remaining 92% of us, year-end giving is on your mind, but you haven’t yet begun. Procrastinators unite! Year-end giving is extremely important, and there is still time for you to pull it together.


31% of charitable giving happens in December with 12% of all giving during the last three days!

That is right, nearly one-third of all dollars donated happens at the end of the year. And one-third of that, or one-sixth of all donations every year, are donated on December 29, 30, and 31. So even though “everybody is doing it” and there is a worry about getting caught in the noise, year-end is an absolutely critical time to have a well planned and executed fundraising effort.

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So while you are starting to think through your year-end giving campaign, here are a few things you should know to make your program successful.


Ask your Volunteers

Volunteers are twice as likely to donate than other prospects during a year-end campaign. Year-end is the best time to bring new supporters into your list. Remember, soliciting your previous donors will always bring you the highest return on investment, but for those looking to bring in new donors, make sure you are asking your volunteers for financial support. These individuals already know your organization, believe in your organization, and have spent their valuable time supporting your organization. Make sure you are on their minds when they are planning their year-end giving.

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Run a four to six week campaign.

Successful campaigns last between four and six weeks and are multi-channel. Year-end giving is a sprint - but it’s a long sprint. Successful organizations run programs that last between four and six weeks. This means #GivingTuesday, or even slightly before Thanksgiving, is when you should launch your program.

Additionally, modern donors give through multiple channels, including online, through mail (the old fashion check!), and social media - and don’t forget individual meetings and phone calls! While these can take more time and energy, they are a key way to make you stand out among your middle and major donors.


Express the need of your organization

Donors are motivated by a feeling to give back, support others, and the famous tax deduction. Donors always give for lots of reasons, but year-end giving can be unique. 74% of donors cited the “holiday spirit” of giving back and supporting others as a motivator for their year-end donations. This means fundraisers need to clearly articulate the need and impact of their organizations. Tax deductions, while sometimes cited as a reason to give, help create a sense of urgency. Don’t be afraid to leverage the year-end IRS deadline to push those hold out pledges over the top to finally writing you a check!


Pick up the phone and set some meetings - Major gifts still make up the bulk of year-end donations for most organizations.

Major donors, however you define those in your organization, still make up the bulk of year-end giving. It is always exciting to open up lots of envelopes returned from your year-end mailer or refresh the online donation ticker, but just like major gifts make up the bulk of your revenue each year, they will also be responsible for the majority of revenue you receive during year-end campaigns.

Interestingly, a recent study showed that just 17% of organizations prioritize meeting with donors during year end campaigns. Make your group stand out by visiting people in person, thanking them for their previous support, and asking them to support you during the final days of the year.


Need Ideas on year-end fundraising? Check out this post for 10 ways to make your year-end campaign stand out. 

Matt Lyon

Matt has over 12 years of political fundraising experience. Matt’s experience includes overseeing up to fourteen staff members, administering budgets exceeding $1.1 million annually, directing million dollar paid media programs, raising over $5 million for various causes and organizations, and developing and implementing communications strategies that led to dozens of stories in local and national outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post. Matt is an experienced and campaign veteran always willing to help the next candidate make a difference.