Maximizing Donor Giving Trends: Key Planning Considerations

In the world of fundraising, timing is a key quality of an informed fundraiser. Even the most thoughtful event invitation or donation appeal will go overlooked if it’s not planned at the right time. An informed nonprofit knows this and plans its fundraising events and appeals during the seasons that its donor base is most likely to give. 

So, how do you know when to plan for generosity? By researching your donor’s

giving habits and aligning your plans with their schedules! For instance, a school’s donor demographic may be better suited for a spring fundraising event because parents may still be settling into the new school year during the fall.

In this guide, we’ll review seasonal trends to consider and delve into strategies you can use to anticipate and maximize your donor’s generosity. Let’s begin!

Consider seasonal trends

The year-end giving season which lasts from October to December is a prime time to plan your fundraising efforts. Just take a look at these statistics from Funds2Orgs’ guide to fundraising events that demonstrate the power of year-end giving campaigns: 

  • 37% of all fundraising occurs in the last three months of the year.
  • 10% of annual giving occurs in the last three days of the year.
  • Donors gave $3.1 billion on Giving Tuesday in 2023.

When thinking about these dates, consider how you’ll bring in sustainable funding outside the giving season, too. For instance, the same research found that 45% of donors enroll in a monthly giving program. Out-of-season revenue streams like recurring giving programs can help sustain your organization while you plan for in-season fundraising campaigns. 

But how exactly can your nonprofit plan its fundraising events to maximize these trends and bring in funding year-round? Read on to explore key strategies you can use to anticipate and maximize donor-giving habits.

Create a fundraising appeal timeline

Asking for donations will go more smoothly if you plan your appeals ahead of time. For example, let’s say your nonprofit is gearing up for year-end fundraising but still has a couple of months to go before you send out appeals. 

To properly allocate your time, create a fundraising appeal timeline that defines what objectives you’ll complete each month leading up to and following your year-end fundraising campaign. Here’s an example to get you started in the right direction:

Example fundraising appeal timeline as explained in the text below
  • August: Set goals for your campaign and outline the theme for your appeals. For instance, you might set a matching gift goal aimed at acquiring twice the amount of matching gift revenue from last year. 
  • September: Pull last year’s reports and analyze your previous campaign’s performance. Then, begin to segment your donor list. Pay special attention to engagement history, donation amounts, and donation history to ensure you have an accurate list. 
  • October: Write out your year-end appeals and incorporate campaign-specific language and personalization. For instance, a nonprofit planning a year-end silent auction will need to create personalized invitations, finalize event details, and procure items.
  • November: Review and finalize your campaign content and begin sending your first set of appeals. At this point, you may also troubleshoot any software to ensure you have the tools you need to execute your campaign effectively.
  • December: Update donors on your progress, make follow-up donation requests, and send any last-minute reminders. Additionally, take this time to begin tallying up your fundraising outcomes and spotlight donors who made a positive impact.
  • January: Send out recognition communications to celebrate your donor’s generosity and update them on how the final funds will be used. 

Although year-end fundraising plans should be top of mind, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider other peak fundraising seasons that may be relevant to your organization. Use this above timeline as a guide to structure your efforts in a way that maximizes your specific donor base’s generosity. 

Emphasize year-end fundraising 

Holidays are a busy time for nonprofits as donors are more motivated to give due to the holiday spirit and the associated tax deductions. Plan to capitalize on the generosity of this season with creative appeals, special events, and increased engagement opportunities. Here are a few fundraising strategies you can incorporate to take advantage of the year-end holidays:

  • Highlight matching gift opportunities. Many workplace giving plans set matching gift deadlines by the end of the calendar year. Remind your donor base to get their donations matched before it’s too late! Even better, use advanced technology like auto-submission to make sure more donors get their donations matched automatically, so no extra revenue falls through the cracks.
  • Host a year-end fundraising event. Plan a fun-filled night such as a benefit auction, virtual gala, or holiday-themed fundraiser to play on the season’s giving trend. Send out invitations well in advance and plan on sharing insights from your organization’s end-of-the-year impact report. Thank supporters for their contributions and call their attention to programs that could benefit from a year-end funding push. 
  • Offer multiple donation options. Offering peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, in-kind gifts, stock donations, and other donation options gives supporters the flexibility to donate in the ways they feel most comfortable. If you haven’t already, offer mobile giving opportunities such as text-to-give so supporters can easily give from their devices. Before going live, verify all donation options operate correctly. 

Another way to maximize year-end giving is by distinguishing it from your other yearly fundraising activities by running a new campaign during the giving season. For example, as a part of its partnership with Walmart, The Salvation Army runs an Angel Tree Campaign during December to provide new clothing and toys to children in need during the Christmas season.

Similarly, you might use your year-end giving campaign theme to generate more engagement opportunities. For example, you could offer hands-on volunteer workshops or host a full-scale gala to kick off your year-end efforts.                                    

Plan a #GivingTuesday crowdfunding campaign

Giving Tuesday is a generosity movement that marks the beginning of your year-end fundraising journey. In the digital world, Giving Tuesday is the most philanthropic social media holiday of the year. Why not take this opportunity to empower your supporters to raise money through crowdfunding? Fundly recommends looking for a platform with the following features to support your Giving Tuesday campaign:

  • Enhanced donor experience. Look for a platform with a secure payment processing system that enables repeat donations. This will put donors’ minds at ease and ensure a hassle-free experience.
  • Social media integration. Find a platform that will connect and share your crowdfunding page on several social media sites with ease, quickly widening your reach and attracting more donations. 
  • Multimedia support. Ensure you can customize your campaign page to stand out in the bustle of Giving Tuesday appeals. Use a platform that allows you to quickly and easily create images, videos, and updates to keep supporters engaged and informed. 

Test all software before you go live by double-checking that your donation page will load on all browsers and devices, is accessible from your website, and offers a reliable confirmation page. By ensuring your software’s functionality, you can be confident that donors can respond to your appeals quickly and easily.

By reviewing your fundraising appeals in light of your donor’s giving trends, you can take control of your planning, making your strategies more targeted and effective. This way, you’ll align your timing with the interests and habits of your supporters. You’ve got this!

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