With Halloween in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving on deck, the holiday season is upon us – and with it, the warm and fuzzy feelings of family, gratitude and giving back.

We recently provided 4 quick tips to raise money on Giving Tuesday, a global day of philanthropy that occurs each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. For most nonprofits, this day kicks off a weeks-long year-end giving campaign.

You may know the greatest amount of charitable giving occurs during the holiday season, but did you know donors that start giving in December are worth 52% more over time than those who start giving at other times of the year?

Year-end giving is not only critical for 2016’s bottom line – it sets the stage for years to come.

Read on for an infographic that covers the latest trends in holiday charitable giving, including the top cities in America that see a double-digit increase in average donation size during the holidays. We’ll also discuss 6 practical and creative tips to maximize year-end donations.


Let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned tips and more on maximizing holiday gifts.

1. Brand your year-end campaign with consistent messaging.

The first step in crafting a memorable holiday giving campaign is unfiying the messaging. Decide on the theme, tagline, copy, graphic elements (such as font, images and colors) and fundraising “ask” that you’ll incorporate into every aspect of the campaign.

Then, refer to these elements verbatim as you build out a branded donation page (see tip #2), appeal envelope, pledge card, email blasts, year-end newsletters and more. The clearer and more consistent your message, the more the campaign (and your whole mission) will stand out in the minds of donors already inundated with other philanthropic requests.

2. Create a specific, goal-oriented donation page.

As noted in the infographic, branded giving pages result in some 36 percent larger gifts compared to generic giving pages you’d use all year long. Why?

To donors, a branded page makes the campaign seem…

  • Exclusive. The special “Winter Giving 2016” page sets the campaign apart from the normal donation button in the sidebar.
  • Limited-time. My gift can only be counted toward the final tally if I give now.
  • Impactful. My gift will contribute directly to a specific, meaningful goal. This works even better if you can secure a matching grant for year-end giving.

Be sure to go through the donation process from your own browser and your own mobile device, to make sure the process is 100% smooth – any hiccups and the donor will have an excuse to close the browser and not give.


3. Develop email lists throughout the year.

You want to keep your email database clean, up-to-date and organized throughout the year. This minimizes risk of emails bouncing, going undelivered or landing in unmonitored inboxes.

Plus, detailed email lists make it possible to segment your email lists by helpful donor characteristics. For instance, you can send emails with more challenging asks to long-term or major donors (people who donate, say, $40 or more a month, or have been supporting your charity for over 6 months). You could then modify or tweak a different letter for new or smaller donors. For more on email segmentation, see:


3. Stand out from the crowd with offline methods.

Christmas-card-greeting.pngWe look forward to cards arriving in the mailbox (instead of bills and junk mail!), visiting with family and chatting with loved ones around the holidays, so November and December could be the perfect time to move a component of your campaign offline.

Try sending a greeting card from your nonprofit, mailing newsletters, chatting with donors over the phone, organizing a special volunteering day at your office or campus…the possibilities are endless.

Thinking creatively, outside the box from what your organization has tried in years past, is key to grabbing donors’ attention.

4. Start sending appeal letters to your donor list as early as possible.

The number one reason donors lapse in giving is not that they no longer care about the cause – many times they have forgotten! The holidays are the busiest time of the year, so it’s perfectly understandable that traveling, meals, shopping and family time have pushed your donation ask to the backburner. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested your mission.

Along with sending a weekly letter every few weeks leading up to December 31st, be sure to send 1 to 2 final email blasts in the final week of the year.

Check out this great idea from Claire, a fundraising professional who got creative with a year-end ask.

“We’d send a final letter that had a little sticker on the envelope depicting a finger with a string wrapped around it. Inside was a short, understanding note from the Executive Director herself. It simply thanked them for their past support and empathized with how busy they are and how easy it is for things to slip through the cracks. We just REMINDED them that their intention to give this year had not yet been fulfilled. We demonstrated our FAITH in them and our GRATITUDE for what they do. We got over a 50% return on this with $100+ donors.”

Simple, personal and mission-minded, a year-end ask like this is a recipe for enthusiastic participation!

5. Try a holiday raffle.

As the weather gets chilly, people tend to either get cabin fever and start dreaming of warmer weather, or they love the snow and can’t get enough of a winter wonderland. Thankfully, Winspire packages make it easy to offer donors the choice of both, plus other festive favorites.

Ski Adventures

Fairmont Chateau Whistler Ski Getaway

Fairmont Chateau Whistler


Lift Tickets, Fairmont Chateau Whistler (British Columbia) 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2

Tropical Getaways

Costa Rica Getaway

Costa Rica


5-Night Stay at Los Suenos Marriott (Playa Herradura) or JW Marriott Guanacaste (Tamarindo) with Airfare for 2

Festive Fun

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade


2017 VIP Access to Private Indoor Viewing Location Above Parade Route with Breakfast Buffet for 2

‘Tis the Season

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Festivities

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Festivities


2017 Tree Lighting Viewing, Cocktail Reception and Buffet Dinner in New York City for 2

Try holding a year-end holiday “Winner’s Choice” raffle. Advertise the raffle prize as the winner’s choice of a tropical getaway, exhilarating ski adventure, or any of our incredible bucket-list Experiences. (Keep things simple by limiting choices to 3 or 4 options.) You can easily reserve raffle items in minutes, and you only pay for the trip(s) the winners choose.


6. Let gratitude shape your asks.

Finally, the reason the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year” is that we’re reminded to be thankful, reflect on our blessings and do acts of kindness that bless us in return.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that so many like to reconnect with your cause and donate during November and December. Keep stories and letters hyper-focused on your mission and the people your organization is helping. Consider sending out a message from your Executive Director or the Board emphasizing how much you value their support.

Donors will remember the appreciation your organization showed long after the campaign ends and the new year begins!


Your turn – What has your Nonprofit done to attract year-end gifts that worked really well? What new ideas would you like to try this year?