Guide to Maximizing Your 2020 Year-End Giving

Ines Alvergne • Oct 29, 2020

 It’s that time of the year again: the holiday season is right around the corner! A much anticipated time for fundraisers. 

Although this year is unusual, a recent study shows that individual giving in the first half of 2020 increased by almost 7.5% over the first half of 2019, paving the way to excellent prospects for the holidays. 

What’s more, historically, charitable giving reached its highest peak during the year-end season, highlighting the importance of a well-planned fundraising campaign. 

In this guide, we’ve put together everything you need to know to get the most out of your year-end appeal.

Why bother: Year-end giving trends

There has been a lot of emphasis placed on Giving Tuesday, but what about the months that follow?

A recent study shared that half of all nonprofits receive the majority of their annual giving during the last three months of the year (October, November, and December).

December is the most popular of the three –  30% of all donations occur in the last month of the calendar year.

year-end giving statistics for december

What’s more, from the 29th to the 31st of December, nonprofits receive 10% of their total annual giving

That’s 10% of the entire year’s donations in the last 3 days!

annual giving statistics

Lastly, according to 2019 Keela data, average gift sizes in the US tend to be 53% higher during the last three months of the year compared to the rest of the year. In Canada, average gift sizes are 62% higher. 

There is no need to say that the year-end season is the most important of all.

But why do people give more at this time of the year?

It’s the Giving Season.  People are generally in a more giving mood near the end of the year. There are holidays, and a lot of time off work and school. People have time to spend with family and friends. It’s a natural time for people to get together. With this cheer, comes a very charitable heart. People feel more generous and want to do more good.

Giving Tuesday has played a significant role in bringing nonprofits into the spotlight. While the end of the year comes with a lot of consumerism, Giving Tuesday offers an excellent alternative to that spending and gives people an option to focus on the community.  

Donations are tax-deductible. One of the biggest motivators for end of year donations is the fact that charitable gifts are tax deductible. That’s why when the year comes to an end, a lot of these last-minute gifts are made — and in some cases they can be significant contributions. To make sure you’re set up for the influx of donations, be sure to have automated tax receipts set up for your organization so you don’t drown in administrative tasks. Keela can help with this!

Getting ready: How to prepare for the year-end giving season

Dive into your past campaigns

When it comes to planning, a deep dive into your data can save you tons of time and money. 

Before diving into your fundraising appeal’s specifics, take a look at your past year-end fundraising campaigns: What accounted for the successes? What were the biggest challenges you faced? This will help you understand what strategies are worth continuing and what should be improved. 

When evaluating your past campaigns, consider the following: 

  • How much did you raise in total? 
  • Which segments of donors gave you the most? 
  • What was the average donation amount?
  • Which channels were the most successful in converting donors? Look at your social media pages, email campaigns, and donation pages. 
  • What was your most successful email? What was your most successful social media post? 
  • What was the average cost per gift? Here’s a handy guide on calculating fundraising costs.

Set up your goals

Now that you have a better understanding of your past successes, you can set realistic goals to keep your efforts focused. At Keela, we live and breathe KPIs. If you need help choosing and tracking your Key Performance Metrics, check out this guide

Here are a few standard metrics you can track: 

  • Fundraising: Campaign ROI, Total Funds Raised, Average Gift Size, Donor Retention Rate, New Donor Acquisition
  • Marketing and donor outreach: Email Open Rate, Email Click Through Rate, Donation Page Conversion Rate, Social Media Traffic.
  • Events: Total Registrations, Registration to Check In Ratio, Event ROI, Social Media Mention. 

Invest in technology 

If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your donors while juggling freemium software to send mass emails, now is a convenient time to consider investing in digital tools. 

During the busy holiday season, you shouldn’t spend hours sending tax receipts or pulling an updated list of your recurrent donors. 

The following tools will help you stay focus on your appeal and create a successful year-end fundraising campaign:

  • A donor management system to store and analyze donor data 
  • An email marketing platform to reach out to your supporters 
  • A fundraising platform to set up a donation form and automatically send tax receipts

Does it mean you have to buy three different software to carry out your campaign? 

No! Your secret weapon is housed in three letters: C.R.M. 

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a database that holds all of your contact information in one place. It helps reduce the time spent on manual processes like updating donor information, keeping track of ongoing projects, and creating donation receipts.

Most importantly, it gives you a complete understanding of your donors and their needs, helping you tailor your fundraising campaigns. 

A CRM like Keela even goes a step further by recommending how much you should ask for or when is the best time to reach out to your donors.

Check out this blog on choosing the right CRM for your nonprofit.

8 ways to boost end-of-year donations

Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who figured that December is a valuable time for fundraising. So you need a thoughtful, creative approach to stand out from the crowd and engage donors. 

Here are a few ideas to boost online giving and reach your end-of-year fundraising goals.

Optimize your website

optimize your website for the end of the year

1. Create a pop-up

There are many different options to leverage web design and promote year-end giving.

One of the best ways to capitalize on visitors’ festive spirits is by creating popups.

A pop-up is simply a box that “pops up” on top of a web page to deliver a message and encourage visitors to take action.

You might find them annoying, but pop-ups can truly boost donations for unique fundraising campaigns. 

This is what we recommend: 

  • Set up an “exit” pop-up. This kind of popup is triggered when a visitor is about to leave your website, giving you one last chance to make your ask.
  • Include a value proposition in your copy. Make it clear why donors should give to your organization. 
  • Make it easy for visitors to close the pop-up to avoid annoying them. Also, make sure the pop-up only shows up once per day per visitor. 
  • Make your donation button stand out. Make sure it’s bold and clear enough so that people understand what you’re asking them to do. 

See this example from Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  It works because the value proposition is clear enough: donations “will be matched dollar-for-dollar”. What’s more, the pop-up creates a sense of urgency: to get a tax return visitors must donate before December 31. 

2. Create a homepage takeover 

 If pop-ups are not your jam and you want to go full in with the holiday spirit, you can showcase your year-end fundraising campaign directly on your homepage.

Here’s an example from Charity: Water. We love this example because visitors can select a donation amount directly from the homepage. Simple and engaging!

3. Create a year-end donation page

Your donation page is the centerpiece of your online fundraising strategy.

Try to tweak the copy and tell donors why your organization needs donations at this specific time of the year. It’s important you let donors know what you’re planning to accomplish and how they can help you get there. 

You can either update your current donation page or create a specific one for your year-end campaign. If you’re using Keela, you can create an unlimited number of donation forms! 

See how Zero Ceiling is making the most out of Keela donation forms. 

A great way to encourage end-of-year donations is to show your donors how much work you’ve done throughout the year. Using a progress bar like Zero Ceiling, you can communicate what goals you are hoping to hit and how close you are to hitting those goals. 

Nail donor communications

reach out to your volunteer for year-end campaigns

4. Be strategic with the timing of your communications

When the holidays are right around the corner, businesses and organizations start filling inboxes with coupons, special promotions, and more. 

How do you stand out in a crowded inbox? 

There’s a simple strategy you can try: sending emails at unusual times. 

While most businesses and nonprofits send emails during weekdays between 9 am and 4 pm

you might get more attention on weekends or in the evening.

We’re not saying that you’re guaranteed to get better results, but this is worth testing. What’s more, 30% of organizations don’t send any communications after December 25th. Yet, 53% of online year-end revenue comes in during these 6 days. So you better focus your communication efforts during the last week of the year. 

5. Write with empathy

Understanding the thoughts and feelings of your audience is crucial to maximizing giving.

When you write with empathy, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of your audience, making your writing resonate with them. 

Here are a few tips for writing powerful email appeals: 

  • Make your writing conversational. Your communications should read like you’re talking to a friend. 
  • Personalize your email subject line: Readers are 26% more likely  to open emails with personalized subject lines. It can be as simple as using a smart tag to include donors’ first names. 
  • Send emails from a person, not an organization. This helps humanize and personalize your communications. People are more likely to open an email from “Sarah” than “XYZ foundation”. 
  • Embrace storytelling. People need storytelling to make sense of the world. Tell the ‘why’ of your organization or focus on the story of one person in need. 
  • Use social proof. This will help build trust and perhaps even trigger FOMO (fear of missing out). For instance, once you started your campaign, let donors know how much you’ve raised, or how many people have already stepped forward to help your organization.

6. Nurture your donors before asking for donations

Implementing an effective donor nurturing strategy can considerably impact your fundraising results and your year-end giving campaigns. Next After recently ran an experiment, and they found out that thanking donors right before an upcoming holiday campaign can increase donations up to 204%. 

Check out these thank you letter templates and learn how to nurture relationships with your donors. 

Perfect Thank You Letters: The Complete Guide

We know creating a thank you letter or email from scratch can be a challenge. We create a guide and 7 customizable templates to thanks donors, volunteers, sponsors, and more!

Leverage data to maximize donors’ generosity 

focus on recurring donations for year-end giving

7. Use donor personas to target the right audience

 A donor persona is a short document that outlines the traits and preferences of the people you are trying to reach; that is, your ideal donor. 

By building audience profiles, you’ll get a better understanding of who your donors are and what is the best medium to reach them. 

This is the kind of insight you need to cut through the digital noise. Knowing who’s more likely to support your organization, you can better target your year-end campaigns and maximize your fundraising efforts. 

For a complete guide on building donor profiles, check out How to Use Donor Personas to Raise More Money

8. Improve donor stewardship with Keela Intelligence’s tools 

Donor data is a fundraising goldmine. 

Keela Donor Insights give you a 360 degree view of your donors – their interests, giving history, engagement levels, and even communication preferences. Best of all? You don’t have to lift a finger. Keela’s algorithms automatically analyze your donor data, showing the latest, updated results right into your CRM. 

Equipped with this information, you know which donors are most likely to give to your campaign, how much to ask them for, and what’s the best way to reach out. 

Ultimately, this enables you to sort your donors into different segments and create a targeted communication strategy for each segment. This allows you to promote your end-of-year campaign to the right audience, with the right content, through the right marketing channels. 

Talk to one of our Keela experts and learn how Keela can help you maximize results during the year-end giving season.


Online fundraising is becoming increasingly important to nonprofits everywhere. Devote your time and energy to developing a strategy that works for your organization and watch your impact grow. Here is an in-depth guide to get you started on your nonprofit fundraising to kick off this charitable season. 

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