Any experienced nonprofit knows that the end of the year is an extremely critical fundraising period. Proof: 31% of all 2014 giving occurred in December of that year.

It is essential to start preparing for the year-end push well in advance, to ensure you are doing all you can to maximize giving. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to wait until after Thanksgiving — the most successful nonprofits will already be well underway with their preparation by then.

Whether it means a special holiday campaign or a year-end giving day, make a point to focus your efforts rather than assume the donations will flow in no matter what. As with any period of nonprofit planning, it is essential to gather all the insights you can from your donor data and apply that knowledge to your strategy.

Improving your fundraising efforts during this period can go a long way, as so many people are in the giving spirit! To do so, let donor data help you to:

  1. Set realistic goals
  2. Customize outreach
  3. Customize online donation pages
  4. Make recurring donation asks
  5. Encourage matched gifts
  6. Show appreciation

These are all ways in which the data that your organization records in its CRM or other donor management software can come in handy when preparing for the big holiday push. If your nonprofit doesn’t yet have a CRM or is thinking of making a change, check out this nonprofit CRM guide from Double the Donation for information, tips, and recommendations.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Hopefully, you have lots of data from previous years stored and organized in your nonprofit CRM or donor database software. Before your year-end fundraising push, use this data to set specific fundraising and donor engagement goals.

If this is your first time strategizing for a big year-end push, use last year’s December fundraising totals as a baseline — as a bare minimum, you should aim to raise more than you did last year.

If you have made big year-end pushes in the past, you can still use data from past years to help you improve. Look at data from your best December and your worst December—what was different about them? Why did one fail where the other succeeded? Of course there are outside forces to consider such as strength of the economy, but looking at data from past years should give you a basic picture of what has worked and what hasn’t.

Specific helpful data points to analyze include:

  • Number of new donors you’ve secured in the past year
  • Total donation revenue and number of donations in the month of December
  • Total donation revenue and number of donations in the final three days of the year
  • Total donation revenue and number of donations on/around each major holiday

Compare these metrics against your marketing strategies from each year to start planning for this year. Similarly, you can look at data from specific donors or donor groups for a more nuanced picture and use these insights to better customize your outreach for the coming holiday season.

2. Customize Outreach

For nonprofits hoping to boost fundraising revenue, often one of the first steps is to use donor data to customize outreach so that messaging has greater appeal for individual donors or prospects.

This does not have to be a one-time improvement — you can further customize your outreach to work specially with your year-end push.

There is lots of donor data that might not be helpful for most of the year that should come into play near the holiday season. These include:

  • Religious background/affiliation. Cater your appeals by considering what holiday specific donors may be celebrating. If they identify with a religion or culture you are unfamiliar with, use this as a chance to connect and learn! Ask them about their background and experiences and talk about how those values may pertain to your cause.
  • Time of year they normally donate. If a donor often donates during the summer, for instance, let them know how much you appreciate and could use their support this winter, as well. Or, if they normally donate in January or February, ask if they would consider donating one or two months earlier than normal to help with your end-of-year needs.

In addition to these, you should take into account the normal donor data metrics such as preferred method of communication and philanthropic interests. Combine these with the above data to help with your year-end fundraising!

For instance, if your cause is related to healthcare fundraising, you can emphasize how many hospitals find themselves overworked and understaffed around the holiday season, making it especially helpful if they would push their normal gift up by a few months to be in time for the holidays.

3. Customize Online Donation Pages

The holidays are the perfect time for your organization to update your website and online donation pages with some seasonal flair.

Without laying it on too thick or distracting from your mission, just reminding site visitors that we have entered the season of giving may put them in the mood to donate. This includes all the things you would expect: snow, polar bears, wrapped gifts, etc. Don’t veer too far into specific denominational imagery, of course, unless you are a faith-based nonprofit.

But it doesn’t have to be all style over substance: you can also add text, infographics, or video explaining why this part of the year is one of the most crucial for your organization and your cause.

4. Make Recurring Donation Asks

The year-end push is the perfect time to approach your most devoted donors about transitioning into a recurring gift structure. Recurring donations are some of the most crucial components of nonprofit fundraising strategies, as they provide stability and allow organizations to plan ahead well into the future rather than worry about next month’s donation revenue.

The information in your donor database can be extremely helpful in deciding who to ask and how to ask them. When looking for donors to approach about recurring donations, look for some of these data points:

  • Regular donations. If a donor already gives regularly, a transition to a recurring donation scheme may actually lead to greater convenience for them without much change in the total amount. When making the ask, emphasize the convenience factor as well as how the added stability will help your organization.
  • Event attendance and other engagement markers. If a donor has shown a willingness to engage with the organization beyond the occasional donation, they may be willing to increase their financial commitment by transitioning to a recurring donation scheme.

A recurring donation to be paid each holiday season is a great way for your most devoted donors to do even more for your cause by giving you the freedom to plan for your organization’s future.

5. Encourage Matched Gifts

A matched gift is great way for a donation to become even more valuable — just the kind of boost your organization needs this holiday season.

For those readers who don’t know about matching gifts: Many companies offer to match their employees’ charitable donations through what are called matching gift programsThrough these programs, companies will match donations at a 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, or even a 4:1 ratio.

As you can see, matching gifts have a lot of potential to improve your year-end fundraising totals!

The data in your donor database can go a long way to getting your donors’ gifts matched. One of the most crucial pieces of information is also one of the easiest to procure: their email addresses. Often, a donor will use their company email when giving you their contact information. In those cases, you can simply look at the domain (the part after the “@” sign) and know what company they work for.

After that, it’s as simple as researching the company using a matching gift tool and contacting your donor to let them know that their gift can be matched!

6. Show Appreciation

Your donors and their gifts are the lifeblood of your organization — it’s important to tell them that you appreciate their support! Do this at all times throughout the year, both before and after the big year-end push. When donors know their gifts are noticed and appreciated, they are more likely to give again.

Using the same data you used to customize your outreach for specific donors, send custom thank-you emails or letters so your donors feel truly appreciated. Doing this in the lead-up to the holidays may make donors more likely to give; whereas doing it afterwards will work in your favor next year, when they remember how grateful you were for their gift.

The end of the year can be one of the most crucial times for nonprofits — but it doesn’t have to be the most stressful.

With these donor data strategies, you can make sure to start the new year on the right foot with an eye to the future, thanks to your devoted donors.

Adam Weinger
Adam Weinger
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email at, or on LinkedIn.

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