Making the Most of the Giving Season: Year-End Fundraising Tips


As the year draws to a close, nonprofit leaders face a crucial window of opportunity for fundraising. As you know, the final two months are pivotal; many individuals are looking to make end-of-year donations for tax purposes or simply to feel more generous during the holiday season.

To capitalize on this season of giving, there are some foundational ways you can maximize your year-end fundraising efforts.

Say Thank You
Expressing appreciation is not just a courteous gesture; it’s a pivotal step in donor retention and encouragement for future contributions. An effective strategy is to narrow down your list of top donors — those who have given significant amounts, such as over $1,000 — and compile this into a spreadsheet. Divide this list among your staff members and board members, assigning each 8-12 donors. Provide them with a concise yet sincere script that conveys a deep appreciation for the donor’s support throughout the year.

In most cases, your team will reach voicemail boxes; however, don’t underestimate the power of a heartfelt voicemail. Personal acknowledgments make donors feel valued and seen. This personal touch not only conveys gratitude but also subtly reminds them of their valuable role in your mission, which can lead to them considering a year-end donation. When donors feel a genuine connection to an organization, they are more likely to continue their support.

Engage the Board
Your board members can be your most powerful allies in fundraising. Encourage them to reach out to their networks and consider personal matching challenges to their communities.

Leverage Matching Gifts
Matching gifts are an excellent way to motivate donors. Secure a commitment from a major donor or sponsor to match end-of-year contributions and publicize this opportunity. The potential for a donor’s contribution to have double the impact can be a powerful incentive.

Reflect and Communicate Impact
Donors want to see where their contributions are going. Take the time to compile reports, stories, and statistics that reflect the positive change your organization has achieved over the year. Craft compelling narratives that show impact — a critical motivator for donors.

Personalize Outreach
Personal touch makes a difference. Segment your donors based on past contributions and engagement levels, and tailor your communication. Personalized emails, phone calls, and handwritten notes can significantly increase the likelihood of repeat donations.

Email and Social Media Campaigns
Utilize email and social media to create a sense of urgency as the year ends. Themed campaigns that align with holidays can resonate emotionally with potential donors. Consistency is key — maintain a regular posting schedule and use various content, including images, stories, and direct calls to action.

Update Your Website
Ensure your website is updated with current information, success stories, and a clear call to action for donations. The donation process should be as straightforward as possible — a complicated or lengthy process can deter potential donors.

Utilize Reminders and Deadlines
Create a sense of urgency by reminding your supporters of the tax benefits of donating by the last day of 2023. Countdowns and reminders can nudge procrastinators into action.

Assess and Adapt
Monitor the results of your efforts. If a particular strategy isn’t working, be ready to pivot. The flexibility to adapt strategies can be the difference between a good fundraising season and a great one.

The end of the year is a time for reflection and celebration. It’s also the most critical time for fundraising efforts. By implementing these strategies, nonprofit leaders can ensure they are doing everything possible to maximize their year-end fundraising and enter the new year on firm financial footing.

Ultimately, it’s not just about the funds raised but about fostering lasting relationships with donors who believe in your cause. Now is the time to reinforce those connections and lay the groundwork for increased impact as your organization prepares for a successful 2024.

Bill Cummings

Bill is a seasoned nonprofit founder, leader, marketer, fundraiser, and storyteller. He is the founder and former executive director of Lemonade International and has served in leadership positions with Zoe Empowers and Restore NYC. He works with clients on organizational strategy, branding, fundraising, and communications.