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Is your nonprofit overlooking strategies for year-end fundraising? Probably!  Here are 5 of the best tactics you might not have considered that can help boost your giving results this year. (More tips for year end here.)


year-end fundraising

Year-End Fundraising Strategy #1: Focus on increasing gift amounts from current donors

New is not always better – especially at year-end! The national trend is that 88 percent of gifts come from just 12 percent of your donors, and the majority of the 12 percent are people that can or would give to you annually.  The trend in charity though is a decline in donor retention (Fundraising Effectiveness Project).  If you focus on retaining – and increasing – the gifts of the few that really support you, you can improve your bottom line.

Think of your program like a subscription service for your best donors. Like any of your online services, your cable company, or even your energy bill, you need to increase your price point to meet your bottom line. Your regular purchasers or investors understand that you need five to ten percent more this year, if they can afford it.

In your giving language:

  • Make the ask in your letter, email, or phone call specific. Ask for an exact percentage increase based on last year’s gift.
  • Give them multiple ways to give to you to make it seem marginal. $100 extra dollars over last year’s gift is just $8.33 a month more if you give them a monthly giving option, for example.
  • Show how you have had a greater impact year after year, with real quantifiable numbers, to merit the increase.

Also, follow up as a rule. Track every donation that comes in the door, and have an additional letter, email, or callers ready at the end of December to focus efforts on retaining and increasing.

Also read: Avoid Donor Abandonment

Year-End Fundraising Strategy #2: Use the press

Local TV shows, cable networks, and online news sites alike look for human interest stories about giving and charitable work around the holidays. Are you taking advantage of that fact? Make a conscientious effort to get on the news! Here is a free template for a media alert. Send targeted alerts about a particular program or event to as many local media contacts you can find. If you have the resources, you might even stage a gimmick at a public mall or school to raise attention. “Sleeping Out” on the streets for homeless rights has become popular among youth shelters, for example.  Or engage a local leader or celebrity to speak on your behalf.

Year-End Fundraising Strategy #3: Host a new volunteer event

Research shows volunteers give more. In fact, they are twice as likely to donate. And 89 percent of the wealthy donate their time. The holidays are actually the best time to engage new volunteers as well. People are looking for outlets to give back to the community. Instead of, or in addition to, mailing an appeal letter to a huge pool of potential new donors, try gaining the interest of new volunteers and friends to your cause with mission-based events. It can be as simple as a holiday decorating party, a cleanup event, or a gift drive for poor children at your local partner school.

Make sure you thank them first for their dedication and time, and consider sending them a soft ask opportunity for a year-end gift. Even if it does not translate this year to new funding, it can help you next year!

Year-End Fundraising Strategy #4: Have a year-end online auction

A gala, a cocktail reception, or a simple luncheon can make all the difference in winning over new year-end donors (or encouraging your past supporters to increase their gifts). Doing so, however, is not only time consuming but costly! This year, you might try an online event.

Online auctions, for example, can bring new awareness and engagement in your cause. People are more likely to purchase an item for gift giving at this time of year. Here is a quick guide for setting up a successful silent auction, which can be easily placed online in social media programs like Facebook. Try using quirky and mission-based products and services to make it more interesting! Ask your volunteers to offer “day in the life of” prizes, engage board members to donate their houses as weekend getaways, or donate babysitting services or other useful year-end treats.

Year-End Fundraising Strategy #5: Do something wonderful and extraordinary this year – and tell about it

The key to good fundraising is doing good work, then communicating that work. Your year-end strategy should not be one letter or one event, but an entire campaign that showcases the wonderful and extraordinary work you are doing. Tips include:

  • Survey your program staff and volunteers in advance and ask them to share the most extraordinary project results and stories they have had this year.
  • Compile testimonials from your research. Send links to videos or multi-media stories on your social media and directly with your appeals. Keep them short and sweet, but demonstrative. (Additional year-end writing tips can be found here.)
  • Use engaging impact numbers. 57 children now literate for only $50 each. 10050 meals served for $1 each. Try mixing the numbers with pictures in infographics that convey your message.
  • Use language to which people respond. Positive, action-oriented language that engages the reader as part of the story is most effective.


If you are like most nonprofits, the majority of your giving comes in one month of the year. Make it count! Try just a few new tricks this year for your year-end campaign, and you more than likely will boost giving, retain more donors, and find new supporters.

Please let us know your favorite year-end fundraising strategies in the comments!

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