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What Is the Purpose of Year-end Giving?

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By Jesse Sumrak

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Published November 14, 2022 Reading Time: 7 minutes

What Is the Purpose of Year-end Giving?

‘Tis the season for nonprofit fundraising. Year-end giving is the most important time of the year to raise donations and hit your annual fundraising goals. 

At Classy, we have the tactics and know-how to help you create a fundraising campaign your donors will remember well into the new year—and it’s all here. 

Below, we’ll show you 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 (November) and New Year’s Eve (December). 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 time of the year. 

Our annual report, The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022, shows just how important this time of year is for nonprofit organizations:

  • 30% of annual donation volume happens between Giving Tuesday and December 31
  • 10x 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
  • Over $5,000 donations are most likely to come in during year-end campaigns compared to other times of the year

Why Do People Give at Year-end?

Understanding why donors wait until year-end to donate is essential to optimizing your campaigns. Once you unlock this key piece of information, you can tailor your campaigns and messaging better to resonate with your audience.

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

  • To show gratitude for nonprofits: Most people have nonprofits they know and love, and these organizations tend to show up (more than usual) during the end-of-year holidays. Donors show gratitude and support for these organizations by contributing when it matters most.
  • To become part of a greater solution: Donors like to feel like they make a small contribution to the greater good. And since nonprofits do a great job of setting (and publicly announcing) end-of-year fundraising goals, it’s rewarding for donors to see themselves make an impact.
  • To improve feelings of self-worth: People feel good when they give—compared to spending all that money on themselves.
  • To prepare for tax benefits: Donors seize the end of the year as the last moment to make charitable donations that they can claim on their tax returns.
  • To engage with year-end giving campaigns: People find it hard to resist when surrounded by needs and appeals. And since nonprofits know how to pack a punch with end-of-year giving campaigns, it works.
  • To settle finances: Donors have a better idea 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. But 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

The end of the year is when donors make the most contributions. So every nonprofit pitches its organization’s mission and vision, vying for a portion of the limited contribution fund. That’s why we dedicate our internal teams and knowledge to help you execute a well-planned fundraising campaign to grab a piece of the pot.

1. Set Realistic, Data-backed Goals

Launch your year-end giving campaigns with concrete 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 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 consider the context of last year’s situation. Did you land important press coverage that 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 goal that’ll make your organization stretch (but that’s attainable). Next year, you’ll have the data you need to set more realistic fundraising goals—but do your best for now.

2. Organize Your Team

Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking for 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. So find and assign volunteers well in advance to help you with everything from events to marketing your big campaign to prevent them from committing to other projects. Ideally, you’ll also find individuals to substitute if someone drops out at the eleventh hour. 

And 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 the 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 strategies and tactics. This will help your campaign stand out from the crowd and encourage supporters to donate to your cause. So incorporate a fine-tuned story and messaging to help you engage on the channels your audience uses.

  • Story: Find your angle for this year. Do you have a compelling new story that’ll attract new donors (while retaining old ones)? How will you stand out in the minds of your donors?
  • Messaging: Polish up your messaging. Your campaign can feature unique slogans, taglines, and calls to action to influence engagement.
  • Channels: Choose the marketing channels you want to utilize. While small nonprofits with limited resources can only pick a handful, larger teams can afford to spread themselves across several mediums. Here are some options to consider:
    • Email
    • Direct mail
    • Text
    • Phone call
    • LinkedIn
    • Instagram
    • Facebook
    • Webchat
    • Events
    • Digital ads
  • Schedule: Plan when you’ll send your messages by strategically aligning your campaigns to pack the most punch. This helps you avoid frustrating recipients with messaging overload in a single day by sending out messages across channels over time. For example, you might send an email on Monday, a text on Wednesday, and a LinkedIn post on Friday.

4. Diversify Ways to Give

Donors come in all shapes and sizes. Some prefer to give directly through your donation page, and others want to meet your team and other supporters at a fun event. 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. Let donors 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, also provide opportunities for givers to volunteer during end-of-year campaigns. Some may not be able to donate, but they still might want to give back with their time instead of money.

Explore Different Campaign Types Available on Classy

5. Leverage Fundraising Technology

Fundraising software is purpose-built for nonprofits like yours to make everything from donation management to donor communications streamlined, automated, and simplified. 

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

6. Use Your Giving Tuesday Campaign for Momentum

Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to kick off your year-end giving campaign. Use the special day for a massive launch to generate awareness, build hype, and open the donation floodgates. Here are a few ways to combine Giving Tuesday and your year-end strategy for a more cohesive campaign:

  • Align your branding: Use the same visuals, messaging, campaign names, and URLs
  • Optimize donation pages: Change your Giving Tuesday language to year-end giving verbiage once the giving day passes
  • Communicate the relevance: Show your donors how important Giving Tuesday is to reaching your end-of-year giving goals
  • Leverage the same channels: Think of year-end giving messages as a continuation of the conversation rather than starting a brand-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 want to raise and why it matters.
  • Show the impact: Use visuals and storytelling to highlight how end-of-year giving helps 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.
  • 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 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.

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 payment processing options or recurring giving capabilities. 

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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