December is Your Month to Shine: Top 5 Holiday Fundraising Trends

By Elizabeth Chung
Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s almost that time of year again! The holiday fundraising season is about to be full speed ahead, and nonprofit organizations (should) have long been gearing up for their year-end fundraising campaigns. It’s an annual procedure, to plan months ahead for possibly their biggest and most important fundraising initiative.

But what sets 2014’s giving season apart? To give you the scoop on what you can expect these next few months, we’ve rounded up 5 charitable giving trends that you can look forward to come the holidays.

1. Year-End Giving Starts Early

If you’re counting down the days ‘til giving season hits, here’s a trend for you: year-end giving behavior starts much earlier than you’d probably expect. In 2013, Google conducted a study that looked at the relationship between donor behavior and the organizations they ultimately give to. It found that donation-related searches in August and September increased by 30 percent.

What does this mean? Well, if you’re waiting until November or December to get the word out about your holiday campaigns, you’re passing up a major chance to win over potential donors.

Start now. If you haven’t begun already, build awareness of your nonprofit and its fundraising efforts in these earlier months. The study also found that 75 percent of donors go online to learn more about nonprofits, so make sure your website is up to date and promotes your holiday campaign on its homepage. With people already thinking about where to steer their year-end donations, your organization can plan ahead and take this opportunity to influence donors’ decisions early on.

2. Are You Online Yet?

It might be trite to say at this point, but the importance of going digital makes it worth saying again: online fundraising is a major charitable giving trend, and it’s climbing upwards. At no other time is it more critical to have an online strategy than now, with the holiday season just around the corner and already showing signs of driving online donations.

Looking at previous years’ online giving trends, we can only expect to see a rise in online giving in the next few months. According to the 2014 Giving USA Report, online giving was particularly strong during the holidays last year. Slightly more than 35 percent of all online gifts came in during October, November, and December 2013. Donations, by number, grew by 6 percent; their size also rose from an average $157 in 2012, to $172 in 2013.

This growth aligns with the findings of another M+R article, which states that 84 percent of surveyed organizations raised more money online during their 2013 year-end fundraising than in 2012. Eighty two percent also saw a higher average gift size in December last year.

As for this year, the first half of 2014 has already seen an 8 percent increase in online giving compared to 2013. All of this growth is setting the foreseeable stage for the second half of this year: a holiday season ripe for online fundraising!

3. Kick it Off with #GivingTuesday

December 2nd will mark the third annual #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving set to kick off the giving season as an antithesis to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since its debut in 2012, #GivingTuesday has evolved from a simple giving day to a global movement.

Last year, donors gave 90 percent more than they did in 2012. And while just over 2,500 organizations participated in 2012, that number quadrupled to over 10,000 organizations in 2013, when the international community joined the #GivingTuesday initiative.

GT International

These dramatic spikes in donations and participants have us predicting one thing about this year’s #GivingTuesday:

It may be the biggest one yet.

If you haven’t started already, it’s time to plan a solid #GivingTuesday campaign. Brainstorm campaign ideas that will capitalize on this great energy, and launch your holiday fundraising efforts with a strong kickoff. It will create the momentum you need heading into the rest of the year.

4. Email Segmentation Is Key

As you ramp up your online fundraising efforts, you should also have another strategy in the works – your email list segmentation. Yes, this is a trend you should heed year-round, but it’s also a holiday game plan that’s here to stay. And when you’ve checked it off your to-do list, that’s something you can definitely be excited about.

Why’s that? Because at a time when over half of donors leave an organization due to a lack of effective communication, email segmentation can help you whip up targeted messages that speak to different members of your audience. This is especially vital during the holiday season, when tons of nonprofits will be sending emails and vying for donors’ attention. To create and sustain engagement, you want your supporters to feel like you understand and appreciate their personal connection to your organization.

Here are a few ways you can segment your lists:

Of course, these are just a few examples. The more targeted your messages, the greater the chance of being opened and clicked through, thus delivering a donation.

5. The Personalized Giving Experience: Introducing eCards

The holidays are a time for gifts, greeting cards, and connecting with friends and family. In this light, many nonprofits have historically set up holiday gift programs, where donors can make a gift to the organization on behalf of someone they love. Well this year, nonprofits can make the giving experience even more meaningful, with eCards.

Classy added an eCards feature that allows donors to personalize their dedicated gifts in a highly stylized way. A more unique and personal alternative to the generic dedication email, using eCards can create a more personalized experience for both the sender and recipient.

Donors can use eCards to tell someone they made a gift in their honor, or encourage the dedicatee to make a gift too, all the while supporting an extremely worthy cause. And because organizations can design eCards to match the occasion, they can be tailored for any other fundraising campaign they’d like to launch, year-round.

There you have it. With all these awesome trends and strategies in line, 2014 is looking to bear your best year-end fundraising results yet. There is a lot of opportunity to engage your online community, strengthen donor relationships, and increase donations in the next few months, so let’s kickoff the giving season strong!

Plan Your Year-End Strategy

nonprofit holiday fundraising guide

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