What Is the Purpose of Year-End Giving?


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Published November 14, 2022 Reading Time: 7 minutes

‘Tis the season for nonprofit fundraising. The giving season, spanning November and December, holds ample potential to raise generous donations and help hit your annual fundraising goals.

At Classy, we have the tactics and know-how to help you create a fundraising campaign that your donors will remember well into the new year.

Below, we share tried-and-true tips and best practices to make the most of your end-of-year giving campaigns. Before we do that, let’s get on the same page about what year-end giving is (and isn’t) and explore why people tend to give at this special time of the year.

What Is Year-End Giving?

Year-end giving usually occurs between Giving Tuesday and New Year’s Eve. It’s a narrow window with a big impact, as we continuously see it’s when organizations seem to raise the most compared to any other days of the year.

Did you know:

  • 25% of annual donation volume on Classy happens between Giving Tuesday and December 31
  • 12x more donors join nonprofits on Giving Tuesday compared to an average day of the year
  • 2x higher conversion rates occur on Giving Tuesday and New Year’s Eve compared to an average day
  • Donations over $5,000 are most likely to come in through year-end campaigns compared to other seasonal campaigns

Why Do People Give at Year End?

Understanding why people wait for year-end appeals to donate is essential to optimizing your year-end fundraising campaigns. Once you unlock this key piece of information, you can tailor your fundraising efforts and messaging to resonate with your donor base.

Based on our donor surveys, here’s why people tend to give the most at the end of the year:

  • To show gratitude for nonprofits: Most people have nonprofit organizations they know and love, and these organizations tend to show up (more than usual) during the final months of the year. Donors show gratitude and support for these organizations by contributing when it matters most.
  • To become part of a greater solution: Donors want to feel like their contributions made a difference. Since nonprofits do a great job of setting and publicly announcing end-of-year fundraising goals, it’s rewarding for new supporters and loyal donors to see themselves make an impact with their donation amounts.
  • To improve feelings of self-worth: It’s natural to wonder why people give to charity. To say it simply, humans feel good when they give to others and display acts of kindness. Keep that in mind as you craft your fundraising appeals this holiday season.
  • To prepare for tax benefits: Donors, especially major donors, seize December as the last chance to make charitable donations they can claim on their tax returns.
  • To support timely needs: People are motivated by timely appeals, often feeling inspired by a campaign’s sense of urgency. Tailor your campaign goals to align with a problem impacting your community right now, and communicate how donors’ urgent help is critical to finding a solution.
  • To settle finances: Donors have a better understanding of their remaining budget toward the end of the year. After they’ve made their big purchases and planned for holiday expenses, they now know how much they have left to give.

What Is an End-of-Year Giving Statement?

A year-end giving statement is a donation acknowledgment letter that summarizes all your donors’ contributions throughout the year. It’s an opportunity for you to show appreciation to your donors and reveal what you accomplished with their donations.

Your donors also need this end-of-year giving statement for their annual tax return. The IRS requires them to include it when they file for tax deductions.

Since most year-end donations occur during December, it’s best practice to wait until January to send out the previous year’s acknowledgment letters. Try to be prompt and send it before January 31 to give your donors adequate time to collect paperwork and prepare their taxes.

6 Tips to Make the Most of Your Year-End Giving Campaigns

Here are six simple ways to execute a well-planned fundraising campaign with proactive outreach, strategic stewardship, and meaningful follow-up communications.

1. Set Realistic, Data-backed Goals

Launch your year-end giving campaigns with smart fundraising goals. How much do you hope to raise by the end of the year? Will you set milestones along the way? What milestone dates will you need to set to ensure you achieve your online donation goal?

While it’s optimistic to set an extraordinarily high number, we recommend using your last year-end giving figures to help project this year’s goal. But don’t forget to consider the context of last year’s situation. Did you land important press coverage that secured donation-matching gifts or influenced major giving? Do you think you can do the same again? Are you planning on investing more money into your marketing campaigns this year?

If it’s your nonprofit’s first end-of-year giving campaign, set a stretch goal based on realistic metrics. Next year, you’ll have the data you need to set more realistic fundraising goals, so just do your best for now.

2. Organize Your Team

Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking for event volunteers and making assignments. Organize your fundraising team months before you launch your year-end giving campaigns.

Remember, this time has a lot of potential for your nonprofit. Find and assign volunteers well in advance to help with everything from your Thanksgiving charity 5K run to marketing your big campaign. Ideally, you’ll also find individuals to substitute if someone drops out at the eleventh hour.

Give your staff time to be creative. November isn’t the time to start putting together your marketing messages and content designs. Instead, carve out space in the months leading up to your year-end giving campaign to give your creatives and strategists room to breathe.

3. Plan How Your End-of-Year Campaign Will Stand Out

It’s time to dig into your fundraising campaign strategies and tactics. This will help your campaign stand out from the crowd and encourage supporters to donate to your cause.

  • Story: Find your storytelling angle for this year. Do you have a timely story that’ll attract new donors while retaining existing ones? How will you stand out in the minds of your donors?
  • Messaging: Your campaign should feature unique slogans, taglines, and calls to action to influence engagement.
  • Channels: Choose the nonprofit marketing channels you want to utilize. If your team has the time and resources, it’s beneficial to spread your message across several mediums. Here are some options to consider:
  • Schedule: Plan when you’ll send your messages to pack the most punch. This helps avoid overloading recipients’ inboxes. For example, you might send an email on Monday, a text on Wednesday, and a LinkedIn post on Friday.

4. Diversify Ways to Give

All donors are unique. Some prefer to give directly through your donation forms on your donation website, and others want to meet your team and supporters at an event before contributing. Providing diversified ways to give ensures you don’t lose donors to a minor preference hiccup.

You’ll also want to make giving quick and easy. Allow donors to click a button, sync their payment login information, and get on with their day. After all, the more steps you introduce to the process, the less likely your donor is to finish the donation process—and you don’t want to leave valuable money on the table.

Here are a few giving methods to include:

Beyond financial gifts, provide opportunities for givers to volunteer throughout the end-of-year season. Some may not be able to donate, but they still might want to give their time.

5. Leverage Fundraising Technology

Classy’s fundraising platform is purpose-built for nonprofits to make everything from conversion and donation management to CRM integrations streamlined, automated, and simplified.

For example, here are a few ways to optimize your end-of-year campaigns with dedicated technology:

6. Establish Momentum with Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to kick off a concentrated acquisition and retention initiative. Use the special day for a massive launch to generate awareness, build hype, and open the donation floodgates. Once Giving Tuesday wraps, here are a few ways to unite your Giving Tuesday and year-end campaigns for sustained momentum:

  • Align your branding: Use complementary visuals, messaging, and campaign names
  • Optimize donation pages: Change your Giving Tuesday language to year-end giving verbiage once the giving day passes
  • Communicate the relevance: Show donors how important Giving Tuesday is to reaching your end-of-year giving goals and how sustained generosity post-Giving Tuesday can mobilize a greater impact
  • Leverage the same channels: Think of your year-end giving messages as a continuation of the conversation rather than starting a new thread

Best Practices to Approach Year-End Giving the Right Way

Regardless of your unique messaging or channel strategy, we’ve found a few universal best practices that’ll give you an advantage with your year-end giving campaign:

  • Be specific and straightforward: Tell your supporters exactly how much money you need to raise and why it matters
  • Show the impact: Use visuals and storytelling to highlight how end-of-year giving helps safeguard your organization and the cause it supports
  • Rally your community: Don’t try to do the fundraising on your own. Encourage your supporters to share the message on your behalf and engage their friends and families through social media or other platforms
  • Share your progress: Help your supporters measure their impact with a visual progress bar. After all, everyone loves to see the needle moving forward.
  • Pivot: Monitor your online giving analytics and track progress. If your numbers appear off, don’t be afraid to pivot early and move in a new direction.
  • Express gratitude: Show appreciation to your donors with a heartfelt “thank you” as often as you can—after all, year-end campaigns are all about giving. You may even consider hosting a donor appreciation event when time allows.

Amplify Your Year-End Giving with Classy

Hopefully, you feel more confident and ready to tackle your year-giving campaign. Now, all you need is a giving platform to tie all your moving pieces together. Fortunately, we have just the thing.

Classy’s fundraising software empowers your nonprofit to execute campaigns with ease without the traditional holiday hassles. Our fundraising platform makes it quick and easy—whether you want to provide in-house payment processing options, embedded donation forms, recurring giving capabilities, and more.

Request a demo today to give yourself adequate time to start building your end-of-year campaigns on the platform.

Build Your End-of-Year Campaigns With Classy

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