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End-of-Year Giving Ideas to Maximize Your Donations


    The Importance of the Holiday Season

    The closing chapter of the year holds a strategic significance for nonprofits. A staggering 30% of all annual charitable donations occur in December and 10% during the last three days of the year according to Double the Donation

    The generosity that comes with the holiday spirit, combined with the tax benefits that donors seek before the year's end, presents a prime opportunity for nonprofits to strengthen their financial foundation and ensure continued operations and program success.

    However, the generosity of the season doesn't automatically direct funds to any specific organization. So, it's imperative to have a year-end fundraising strategy that presents your mission in a compelling and fresh light.

    GiveForms is here to help, with expert ideas for optimizing your donations during this fundraising season.

    Host a Festive Fundraiser—A Few Ideas

    Use the exciting spirit of the holidays to entice your donors to contribute and thoroughly enjoy the act of giving. It’s the perfect time to channel the magic of the season and turn it into support for your cause. GiveForms has compiled our favorite festive fundraisers for you to get into the holiday spirit.

    Ugly Sweater Contest

    It's the perfect blend of Christmas cheer and fashion fear! Host a virtual or in-person ugly sweater contest where participants donate to enter. Award prizes for the most outlandish designs to encourage participation.

    Gingerbread House Showdown

    Let your donors show off their confectionery construction skills. Have a gingerbread house-making contest with celebrity judges or public voting. Entrants donate to participate, and viewers can donate to vote.

    Holiday Lights Tour

    Coordinate a tour of local homes with impressive light displays. Charge for tickets or ask for donations and give a prize for the best-decorated house. Add a drive-through concession stand with holiday-themed snacks for further donations. Spice it up by playing holiday music, creating a theme for each house, or introducing a scavenger hunt along the route.

    Holiday Karaoke Night

    Host a karaoke event with a holiday song playlist at a local restaurant, bar, or park. Participants can donate to participate and request a song.

    Holiday Pet Parade 

    Who could resist the charm of adorable pets decked out in costumes? Invite participants to dress their pets in holiday attire and share photos online or host an in-person catwalk. Charge an entry fee as donations to your nonprofit. You can even have fun categories such as "Greatest Grinch" for the most adorably grumpy demeanor or "Santa Paws" for the best-dressed Santa.

    Get Social

    55% of individuals who interact with nonprofit organizations via social media are inspired to take action (according to Nonprofit Source). The holiday season presents a prime opportunity to leverage your most potent asset—social media. Amplify your reach with shareable content that captures the festive spirit. 

    GiveForms has curated a collection of the most effective strategies for boosting your fundraising efforts on social media during this time of celebration.

    Interactive Countdown

    Drive donations with a sense of urgency as the new year approaches. Set a tangible goal for year-end contributions and rally your audience to help reach it. Spark excitement with a daily countdown that showcases success stories, heartfelt donor testimonials, and the tangible difference each donation makes. Inspire your community to spread the word by sharing posts with a specific hashtag.

    Instagram Donation Stickers

    Create engaging stories with direct calls to action using Instagram’s donation stickers. M+R Benchmarks 2023 highlights Instagram's impressive growth rate, noting a 10% increase in nonprofit followers in 2022, surpassing Facebook's 4% increase. The data points to Instagram’s growing relevance in fundraising strategies. It is an effective way to engage supporters and secure donations this season.

    Snapchat Filters

    Create custom filters related to your campaign that supporters can use, which also include a call to action to donate. According to The Pew Research Center, 25% of Americans use Snapchat, with 59% of users visiting at least once a day. Connecting with your audience on different social platforms is a great way to engage a diverse range of donors.

    Social Media Challenges

    Start a challenge that spreads by tagging, like posting a picture related to your cause, making a small donation, and tagging friends to do the same. For example, in the #GiveItUpChallenge, supporters give up small luxuries, donating the savings to charity and nominating others to join in.

    End-of-Year Recap Video 

    Video content on Instagram Reels and TikTok has taken over the digital landscape in the past few years. Make a powerful, emotionally compelling video that highlights the year's achievements and the difference donations have made. Be sure to inspire further funds and include a link in the video to your donation form.

    Last holiday season, Gosh Charity brilliantly harnessed their Twitter presence to maintain high engagement with their audience. They made posts about gratitude towards supporters, captivating impact stories, and a compelling year-in-review video, showcasing the breadth of their work and the depth of their appreciation.

    Utilize Donation Gifts and Gift Cards 

    Donation gift cards and physical donation gifts offer a meaningful way for your donors to share the spirit of the season with friends and family, each serving donors' preferences in unique ways. 

    Donation gift cards are an ideal choice for those who prefer to avoid tangible items. These cards, sold by your nonprofit, can be gifted during the holiday season, allowing the recipient to direct the card's value to a fund or project within the organization that resonates with them. 

    On the other hand, physical donation gifts—ornaments, plants, crafted goods, etc.—carry the dual joy of a traditional present and the knowledge that the purchase supports a worthy cause.

    Adding these options to your giving season strategy bolsters your reach and impact. It's a gift that gives twice—once as a heartwarming gesture between loved ones, and again as a contribution to a cause that matters. This approach not only diversifies your nonprofit's year-end fundraising strategy but also extends its reach, inviting new supporters to connect with the nonprofit's work in a deeply personal way.

    The National Wildlife Federation's approach to holiday giving is both innovative and heartwarming, as they cleverly market a range of holiday gifts that support their conservation efforts. Their thoughtful selection includes plush toys of endangered species, bird-inspired dishware, and educational children's books with animal facts. Each purchase contributes to the protection of precious wildlife, an initiative not only raising funds but also spreading awareness about their vital cause.

    Leverage Giving Tuesday

    Started only 11 years ago by New York's 92nd Street Y, Giving Tuesday has now cemented itself as an indispensable part of a year-end fundraising strategy for nonprofits. A remarkable $3.1 billion was raised in the United States during Giving Tuesday 2022, as reported by the GivingTuesday Data Commons

    This day of generosity has become a global phenomenon, acting as a catalyst that propels the charitable season forward. It provides nonprofits with a platform to amplify their message, engage with a wider audience, and harness the power of social solidarity to drive donations.

    For nonprofits, Giving Tuesday is not just a day, but a kickoff to the critical end-of-year giving season. It serves as a high-visibility opportunity to galvanize supporters, both old and new, and to build momentum that can carry through the entire holiday season.

    With strategic planning and effective storytelling, nonprofits can leverage the excitement around Giving Tuesday to boost their visibility, establish deeper connections with their community, and ultimately, secure vital funds that support their work year-round.

    Unlock the secrets to a flawless Giving Tuesday campaign in our post, 6 Tips to Supercharge Your Giving Tuesday 2023, and pave the way for unprecedented success this year.

    Write Letters and eCards

    Letters offer a sense of sincerity and direct connection, fostering a deeper emotional engagement with the recipient. They often resonate more personally with donors – especially during the reflective year-end period where they serve as a physical reminder of the donor's role in your mission, inspiring generosity and continued support. 

    Effective donation letters should be concise and no longer than two pages, with a clear call to action placed early for those who may not read the entire letter. Personalize the letter directly to the recipient by using their name and explaining your cause in a way that speaks to their interests and values. It's crucial to make the donation process straightforward, with a well-designed, easily accessible, and mobile-optimized donation form to encourage donor support.

    Aside from traditionally mailed letters, fundraising eCards are gaining traction as a digital strategy for nonprofits. eCards can be swiftly distributed through email or SMS and allow for opportunities that aren’t available with printed cards, such as animations and direct links. 

    M+R Benchmarks 2023 reported that subscribers to mobile nonprofit messaging increased by 11% in 2022, proving its relevance in today’s fundraising strategy. Additionally, email remains a significant revenue channel for online giving, contributing to 14% of the total nonprofit online revenue.

    Source: M+R Benchmarks 2023

    Whether it's an eCard or a handwritten letter, learn how to craft the most compelling fundraising letters during the holiday season in our feature, Writing Effective Fundraising Letters – Adhere to These 5 Essential Guidelines.

    Make the Most of Matching Gifts

    Matching gifts, a form of corporate sponsorship, are a pivotal fundraising tool where companies match donations made by their employees to eligible nonprofits, effectively doubling the impact of individual contributions. This strategy is crucial for maximizing donations, particularly during the year-end giving season—a time when generosity peaks and the public is already attuned to shopping and giving back. 

    By emphasizing these matching gift programs, nonprofits can not only capitalize on the season's goodwill but also potentially boost their response rates by an estimated 71% and swell the average donation size by 51% according to Double the Donation

    The timing couldn't be better to use the power of matching gift programs. Many of these programs have year-end deadlines that can be leveraged to make donors act promptly. There’s also a natural inclination to spend and give during the holiday retail season, making it a prime time to establish corporate sponsorships.

    Master the art of matching gifts with our informative post How to Market Matching Gifts | 4 Tips for Nonprofits.

    Keep Your Site Up-to-Date

    Maximizing every opportunity to receive donations is essential during the holiday season to ensure you meet your end-of-year goals. The aesthetic appeal and functionality of your donation form can significantly influence a potential donor's willingness to give, with a clear and inviting design often being the deciding factor in turning website visitors into contributors.

    A well-designed form is user-friendly, loads quickly, and functions seamlessly across all devices without directing donors to a third-party site. The donation process should be straightforward to locate on your website with a clear and prominent call to action. Once the call to action is clicked, the donation form should align with your organization's branding and be free of distractions. 

    On the form, offering a variety of payment options and currencies is critical for accommodating donors' preferences. Confirmations of successful transactions should be immediate, thanking donors and providing a receipt. 

    Platforms like GiveForms facilitate this process, ensuring secure and encrypted transactions, making monthly giving effortless, and allowing donors the option to cover processing fees, ensuring that a greater portion of donations supports your mission.

    ​Register for a free account today.

    Finish the Year Strong

    As the year comes to a close, it's time to harness the collective spirit of generosity. Your organization's mission, paired with the right strategies—from engaging social media initiatives to fundraising holiday festivities—can significantly boost your year-end contributions. 

    As you reflect on the past year's achievements and set sights on future goals, remember that each step you take now lays the foundation for the impact you'll have. This season, inspire your community to join in giving. We hope our tips will help you harness the holiday spirit with purpose, enacting change and goodwill.

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