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  • Writer's pictureLipton Strategies

Philanthropy Insights: Year-End Giving

Believe it or not 2020 is coming to a close, and with that comes the always busy giving season. For nonprofits, the end of year often represents a significant fundraising opportunity with nearly one-third of annual giving occurring during the month of December alone.

If your organization has not yet begun planning your year-end giving campaign, don’t worry it’s not too late. Almost half of nonprofits plan their year-end fundraising campaigns in October.

This year with the election and pandemic it is even more important to craft strategies to break through all the noise and influx of emails and mail. With that said, we have created this easy-to-follow guide to create the perfect year-end giving campaign.

STEP 1: Create a Strategy

The first step to any effective fundraising campaign is to develop a strategy to ensure success. Most important – make sure to develop a strategy that works for your specific organization. Some questions to consider when developing your campaign strategy include:

Who is the audience?

Think about who you want to target with your year-end campaign and explore ways to segment your lists to create more personalized engagement.

What is the ask?

While every organization needs financial support, think about other meaningful ways you can ask your community to show their support.

What methods will be used?

Consider what are the most effective channels to reach your community including direct mail, email, social media, and the good old phone-a-thon. If you are relying on direct mail, make sure to plan ahead and give ample time for responses especially with USPS delays this year.

What is the goal?

Make sure to set measurable goals to track success along the way, what worked, and what didn’t work.

STEP 2: Share a Story Rather than articulate a generic ROI or case for giving, think about ways you can share a story. Use real-life examples that demonstrate the impact of your organization, your recent work, and the services you provided. Especially during the giving season it’s important to create an emotional ask, not just a practical one.

Another thing to consider this year specifically is if your organization’s work supported the community through the challenges of 2020. Did your organization provide programming and services during COVID? If so, think about sharing stories of your work and the impact from the perspective of your community.

STEP 3: Be Innovative

So often organizations use the same tactics year after year that they not only become predictable, but often times tired and outdated. Think about ways you can be innovative in your approach, find ways to touch your donors, and encourage maximum giving.

Did you know that 40% of nonprofits only share one or NO touchpoints with their donors during their year-end campaign? In order to break through all the chatter, use multiple touch points and vehicles to make the ask. Also think about creative solutions to reach your donors like handwritten cards.

The end of year is also a great opportunity to remind your donors that they can contribute from their IRA, stocks, or a donor advised fund. Make sure to share all of the various giving vehicles and have the systems necessary to process and acknowledge those donations when they come.

STEP 4: Thank + Steward

Perhaps even more important than making the ask is thanking and stewarding your donors who give. A standard reply thank you email isn’t enough to demonstrate real thanks.

Think about ways you can both enhance your current donor acknowledgement and supplement with additional gratitude to begin to steward your donors. A great way to demonstrate gratitude and steward donors is with a physical, handwritten thank you card in the mail signed by your staff or a volunteer. Check out the solution from our partner Addressable to do this efficiently and effectively.

STEP 5: Measure Success

Once your campaign has come to a close take a moment to reflect and measure success. It’s important to not only see if you hit your goal but also determine what worked, what didn’t work, and what should change throughout the process.

By taking the time to reflect at the close of the campaign, you will save significant time in preparing for next year’s year-end campaign and set yourself up for even greater success!


If your organization needs help crafting and implementing your year-end giving campaign email us to set up a quick, free consultation at to learn how we can help you succeed!

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