Putting together your donation campaign for the holiday season

The holidays are right around the corner again; we’re trading pumpkin spice for peppermint, and just as we’re getting used to raking leaves, a wispy snowfall begins. Well, in theory, anyway. We’re in California, but we understand the concept of snow. December’s the time of year when the malls around here douse gleeful customers in soap sud snowflakes – not quite a white Christmas, but it’s the closest we can get.

Regardless of the weather, ‘tis the season, and that means it’s time for giving. Whether you’re choosing the perfect Hanukkah present for Aunt Beth or selecting stocking stuffers for your cousins, it’s an undeniably generous time of year. It’s also your last chance to get in all your nonprofit’s fundraising for 2018, a last gasp at soliciting donations while your key demographic already has its collective wallet open.

In a 2007 study, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University reported that the average person gives 24 percent of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.[1] This spirit of giving warrants a push toward elevated fundraising at the end of the year.

To ramp up your year-end giving campaign, you’ll want to first assess your nonprofit. Where are you now, in terms of funding, and where do you hope to be? Take a closer look at last year’s donations, and then determine this year’s goals.

74% of donors say they’re giving because “the holidays are a time to be thankful for what you have, and give to those who need it.”[2] No matter what kind of campaign you’re undertaking, be sure you’re telling a specific, moving story about your organization and its reach. Facts and figures illuminate a bigger picture, but providing a look at one particular individual or family can help your potential donors empathize with your mission.

Here are a few campaign options to get those donations rolling in:

 Email Blast: Send out a year-end newsletter that succinctly touts your accomplishments this year. Those on your email list likely already have a soft spot for your organization. Pepper in data, and highlight your favorite success story for a personal angle.

Social Media Campaign: Talk up what donations can do for you on all your social media channels. Providing a concrete example of what your donor’s dollar can achieve is especially helpful. For example, if $100 helps you plant 20 trees, use visual representations to convey this message far and wide; it’ll give donors something tangible to wrap their minds around.

Be sure to use #GivingTuesday on November 27th to get bonus visibility. This year, when you create a fundraiser on Facebook, Facebook and PayPal will match donations up to $7 million on Giving Tuesday.

Call Banks and Physical Mailers: Snail mail and phone calls are still the best way to reach donors age 67 and up, so take a break from your hashtags to stuff a few envelopes and make calls.[3] If possible, limit your use of physical mailers to a targeted demographic, and keep track of who responds to them, as mailing out fliers can get pricy and isn’t particularly “green.” 

In-Person Event: If it’s in the budget, use an event to push the limits of your goals. Show off all your hard work, and let participants know what you plan to accomplish in 2019. You’ll also want to use your fundraising event as an opportunity to thank current donors and volunteers. 

Not to be a total Grinch, but we’ve got one new caveat for you this season: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many people donate at the end of the year for the tax break, but the Tax Policy Center estimates that the number of households claiming an itemized deduction for nonprofit donations will decrease from 37 million to 16 million this year. The TCJA reduces the marginal tax benefits of charitable donations and effectively increases their after-tax cost by 7 percent.[4] Ouch.

This is likely to reduce overall charitable donations this year, so don’t despair if you’re not surpassing your 2017 numbers. However, encourage those who do qualify for deductions to donate more this year. 

Have a holly jolly holiday! We’ll be over here enjoying the fake snow with an iced hot cocoa. 

[1] https://nccs.urban.org/data-statistics/charitable-giving-america-some-facts-and-figures

[2] https://bloomerang.co/blog/infographic-a-step-by-step-guide-to-year-end-giving/

[3] https://www.mobilecause.com/year-end-giving/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2018/01/11/21-million-taxpayers-will-stop-taking-charitable-deductions-under-the-new-tax-law/#20686f0d238f