Question #8: Is it Too Late to Execute a December Giving Campaign?

By Rachel Cyrulnik, MPA

[Eight Burning Fundraising Questions for Eight Nights of Hanukah concludes.]

Procrastination Philanthropy: Changing TomorrowTomorrow.

Procrastination is human nature. That is why about 20% of giving for the entire year is packed into December, the last chance to get a tax deduction for the calendar year.

As fundraisers, we are aware of this pattern and should be planning our End of Year campaigns accordingly, right after the High Holidays. Beginning with creating our list of repeat gifts, donors who skipped last year and new prospects ripe for giving, moving on to scheduling in-person meetings to close gifts, and ending the year with phone calls and personal emails, along with direct mail and eblasts, these months are often the most intensive and productive for nonprofits across the country.

However, if your cause was not able to get in front of December giving this year, it is not too late to capture the most essential weeks and harness them to further your mission.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There is something magical about December. Aside from charitable giving, people are immersed in generosity and high spirits at year’s end. They are celebrating with their families, exchanging gifts with friends, receiving bonuses, giving tips, and vacationing. This mindset of generosity, along with the deadline of December 31, make it a fortuitous time to ask for a gift – the ask is expected, and people are feeling generous.

Capitalize on the timing, and don’t be shy! In most cases, it’s ok to ask for a gift in an email or leave a message and mention why you are calling. You can be more forward in December than you would be throughout the year.

T Minus Two Weeks: Maximizing End of Year Giving

Even though donors are more inclined to give in December, your organization still needs to make the case for why the dollars should be given to your cause as opposed to another.

  • Prepare Bullet Points that demonstrate the impact you’ve achieved over the past year, what your goals are for the coming year and why you need continued support to achieve them. Use these bullet points to guide your calls, letters and emails.
  • Plan 23 HighOctane Eblasts, and disperse them over the coming weeks, with the last one hitting right before the end of the year. Gather your nonprofit’s creative minds (they may not all work in development) and devise an email series that stands out – it could be funny, emotional or connected by a theme – as long as it grabs your reader’s attention and moves your readership to give.
  • Thank donors – reflect your donors’ generosity by sharing personal thank you’s and warm holiday wishes, making them feel great about their support and strengthening your relationships for the coming year.

Rachel Cyrulnik is founder and principal of RAISE Nonprofit Advisors, a strategic development firm servicing nonprofits. Contact Rachel at