The Last 12 Days of Giving

Here it is, the middle of December and so much to do. Have you met your year-end goals? What can you do in this last 12 days of 2021 to increase or maximize charitable giving to your organizations? One statistic says, “Approximately 31% of all annual giving occurs in December and approximately 12% of all annual giving occurs in the last three days of December. 28% of nonprofits raise between 26 – 50% of their annual funds from their year-end ask.”

Donors give to your ministry for three reasons: (1) they believe in your mission, (2) they trust you and how you will use their gifts, and (3) they like your vision for the future. Donors give a year-end gift for at least three more reasons: (1) the holidays inspire generosity, (2) donors seek last-minute tax deductions, and (3) donors have money left in their annual giving budget. Here are 12 time-tested ideas from our clients on how they make the most of their final 12 fundraising days of the year.

1.  Start Early… Stay Late. Development work is not a nine-to-five job. If you thought that, you chose the wrong career. Be prepared to work long and hard at year-end. Your organization needs you to burn the midnight oil to make sure every donor is contacted and presented with a year-end giving opportunity. Be willing to set aside all the other stuff you do and make this your priority. Be the first person in the door in the morning and the last person to leave the office.

2.  Visit your top 10 donors. This is critical. Personal contact is especially important with your top donors. If you cannot see them in person, schedule a virtual call with them. Do not just send a generic mail appeal; include a personalize, handwritten note on nice stationary or note card.

3.  Hand-deliver Christmas cards and gifts. This is a practice that many development officers and CEO’s have implemented over the years with great results. Imagine the joy on your donor’s face when you ring the doorbell and deliver a gift or a card. Find a gift that has local charm like a specialty coffee or food item. Recruit board members to help deliver gifts.

4.  Burn up the phone lines calling donors. For those donors you cannot meet personally, call them. Thank them for their faithful support. Ask them why they gave to you this past year and what your organization does that resonates with their heart. A personal phone call to ask for their support will make a significant difference. One ministry has assigned four team members to each make 50 donor calls per day for three days (December 28, 29, & 30) with the goal of completing 600 donor touches before year end.

5.  Focus on LYBUNTs fist, then call SYBUNTS. A LYBUNT is someone who gave “last year but unfortunately not this year.” Pay special attention to those who gave in November or December of 2020, but not yet this year. That would indicate they are a year-end giver. Some just need an encouraging reminder. SYBUNTS have given “some year but unfortunately not this year.” Share impact stories. Perhaps your call will reignite their interest in your ministry.

6.  Share matching gift opportunities. The year-end giving season is an excellent time to talk to your donors about a matching gift. Donors love to feel like they are part of something bigger and this allows them to double or triple their impact. 

7.  Involve board members. We mentioned this above with hand-delivery of cards or gifts, but year-end “thank you” calls are also an excellent way to involve your board. Board members who are somewhat reluctant to roll up their sleeves throughout the year will agree to a small, manageable list of “thank you” calls. Make sure to provide them with a good script.  

8.  Test your DONATE button. Hopefully, you are sending out e-newsletters or electronic fund appeals with a donate button to make it easy for your donors to give. Make your donate button prominent on your website and include a link in all your correspondence. There is nothing more frustrating to a donor who tries to give online but cannot get it to work. One donor recently tried for 10 minutes and just gave up. He eventually called the ministry who took his gift over the phone instead. Test your online giving process to sure it works properly.  

9.  Promote the Charitable IRA Rollover. It is likely that your mature donors who qualify are already aware of this option which produces tax advantages for them. But do not assume everyone knows. Include this information in your direct mail and every conversation with donors in this age category. Many organizations neglect to promote this opportunity.

10.   Remind donors to apply for matching gifts. Many companies offer matching gift opportunities to their employees. If you already know your donor’s employer offers matching gift opportunities, remind them. If they do not know, have them ask the corporate or HR office where they work. Some will be surprised to find out they have been leaving donation dollars on the table.

11.   Send eye-catching emails. Because everyone is raising money at year-end, your emails need to stand out. Consider something that shows impact. Make sure your subject line grabs their attention. A quick message that links to a short 60-second thank you video can be powerful. One school we worked with used a “count-down” clock to convey urgency.

12.   Do not forget gifts of appreciated assets. All your year-end giving will not be cash, check, online with a credit card, or by electronic funds transfer. Some donors will decide to transfer a stock gift or other asset and you need to be prepared to handle these right up to December 31. You do not want to be unprepared. 

Happy fund raising in December, the most wonderful season of all.

About the Author: Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently serves as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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