How to Engage Donors for Year-End Fundraising: 5 Tips


This post is provided courtesy of Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation.

Engaging with donors⁠ (and maintaining high levels of engagement over time⁠) is critical for fundraising at any time of the year. This is particularly true when it comes to the year-end fundraising season⁠—which is sometimes known as end-of-year or holiday giving as well.

According to fundraising research from Double the Donation, more than 30% of annual nonprofit giving occurs in December, with 10% of total gifts being made in the last three days of each year. As such, ensuring that your team is ready to go with impactful fundraising strategies is of utmost importance.

In this quick guide, Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation, shares five of his favorite EOY fundraising tips and best practices to help set your organization up for success. These include:

  1. Creating an EOY engagement timeline
  2. Sharing impact information.
  3. Acknowledging gifts made throughout the year.
  4. Tailoring your fundraising asks.
  5. Promoting matching gift opportunities.

Ready to dive into the year-end giving season with a splash? Let’s get started with the first donor engagement tip.

1. Create an EOY engagement timeline.

Every successful fundraising effort begins with a detailed plan. More than likely, you’ve already begun to take some of these steps for your upcoming end-of-year fundraising campaign, although you may not have written it out in such a way.

Regardless, we suggest that you complete said tasks in the following order⁠, though the specifics will vary depending on your organization’s needs, existing plans, and network of support. Here’s an example:

Make fundraising easy
  • August, September: This is the time to begin preparing for your EOY fundraising efforts. Start setting goals for your organization following the SMART framework. Then, communicate your goals to the rest of your team.
  • October: It’s time to begin drafting your end-of-year fundraising appeals! For the most personalized results, we suggest creating a number of different appeal templates that best speak to various tiers of donors.
  • November: This is typically when EOY fundraising efforts begin ramping up. For example, did you participate in Giving Tuesday? For many organizations, this worldwide day of giving marks the official start of the year-end fundraising season each year.
  • December: You should be sending out your year-end appeals at this time! More than likely, you’ll have multiple touchpoints and engagement opportunities going out throughout the course of the month, with your efforts ramping up particularly in the last few days of the year.
  • January: The end of the year is over, but your donor relationships are not. Come January, you should be thanking donors for all of their support, reporting on fundraising and mission progress, and celebrating successes both internally and externally.

For a more detailed fundraising plan, you can break your engagement timeline into smaller time periods⁠—such as by week or even by day. This can allow you to effectively schedule your appeals, promote your campaign through digital marketing channels, and reach donors when and where is best for them. 

2. Share impact information.

People like supporting causes that they feel are making a real difference in the world. Your donors obviously care about your particular mission and are hoping to see it succeed. The more you communicate your organization’s tangible impact, the more your supporters will be likely to back you and your upcoming fundraising efforts.

If you’re not sure how, consider these tips and ideas for sharing your nonprofit’s impact information with your audience:

  • Allow mission beneficiaries to tell their own stories.
  • Incorporate powerful visuals displaying your organization in action.
  • Provide donors with an interesting-to-read annual report.

Just remember, in every story that you tell, you should make sure to position the donor as the hero of the narrative⁠—because it wouldn’t have been made possible without them.

This is particularly critical during the end of the year when tons of organizations and businesses will be vying for their attention. Plus, year-end fundraising season is the perfect opportunity to share details about what your team has done leading up to that point in the year.

3. Acknowledge gifts made throughout the year.

Many donors in your network will have already given to your organization earlier in the year. Should you still ask them for additional support come your year-end fundraising effort? Of course! But you should also adjust your asks accordingly.

This can be as simple as, “Dear Sarah, we greatly appreciate your gift of $200 earlier in the year. Will you help us make an even greater impact by supporting our year-end campaign?

When you acknowledge that a donor’s journey alongside your nonprofit does not stop and end with your year-end fundraising campaign, you continue to strengthen that relationship and build on a foundation that will continue into the new year. They know that you haven’t forgotten about their previous gift and will be more inclined to give again.

4. Tailor your fundraising asks.


Tailoring your fundraising asks to better appeal to each recipient is one of the best and most effective ways to build donor relations, increase conversions, and boost gift sizes. For example, segmenting your communications allows you to ensure each individual within your network receives the most targeted and relevant messaging possible.

Consider these best practices as you craft your donation requests:

  • Address each donor by their preferred name.
  • Adjust suggested donation sizes based on giving capacity.
  • Choose which campaigns you ask donors to support.

It’s no longer enough to draft a single fundraising letter for all of your nonprofit contacts. It’s too easy for a donor to throw out a mass-printed letter or email that was clearly sent to everyone in your database.

Personalized content, on the other hand, feels more like a direct ask for support and is significantly more likely to produce the results that you’re looking for.

5. Promote matching gift opportunities.

Corporate giving statistics show that although more than 26 million people work for companies with matching gift programs, approximately 78% of these match-eligible individuals are entirely unaware of said programs in place by their employers.

Additionally, 84% of survey respondents indicated that they’d be more likely to give if their employer was offering a match. And 1 in 3 donors stated that they’d be more likely to give more⁠—bringing the average gift size up by 51%—when matching gifts are offered. So if you’re looking to boost engagement at the end of the year (or anytime, really), matching gifts are the way to go!

Here’s how the corporate gift-matching process typically works:

  1. A donor makes an online donation to a nonprofit organization.
  2. The donor is encouraged to research their employer’s matching gift program (if available) and request a match if their initial donation is eligible.
  3. Upon finding that their donation is matchable by their employer, the donor completes a short online (or paper) form providing the company with details on the nonprofit and their original donation.
  4. The company reviews the request form and confirms that the original donation was made with the nonprofit.
  5. The company makes its own matching donation!

One of our top tips for drastically improving a nonprofit’s matching gift fundraising strategy involves leveraging innovative and powerful (yet easy-to-use) software designed for this purpose. Matching gift software helps simplify the process for donors from beginning to end⁠—identifying match-eligible donors, equipping supporters with comprehensive research tools, and incorporating automated follow-up outreach.

And here’s an extra hint: you can schedule end-of-year matching gift outreach for donors who had given previously in the year as well! Many employers will match gifts through the end of the calendar year in which the gift was made, so it’s not too late for many donors to retroactively request their matches. This also provides an additional engagement opportunity for donors who may not be able to give again from their own wallets but are still interested in furthering your mission.

Following these engagement tips will position your fundraising team for success this year, both in terms of first-time supporters as well as long-term, repeat contributors. The giving season is very rapidly approaching, so make sure you’re prepared with the right tips, tricks, and tools you’ll need to collect ample funding for your mission. Best of luck!

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