Did you know that 31% of annual giving occurs in December, with 12% taking place in the last three days of the year? How about that the average person makes 24% of their annual donations during year-end and 50% of organizations receive the majority of their gifts between October and December?*

Does your nonprofit organization have a strong year-end strategy to take advantage of these powerful trends? Here are five steps to maximize the success of your year-end fundraising appeal:

  1. Create an activity timeline and benchmarks.

A well planned end-of-year timeline begins in August, launches the first broad-based outreach in October, and focuses on follow-up activities in November and December. Start your major gift requests early, as they create momentum, provide credibility to your organization, and generate excitement around your appeal.



As fundraisers, we thrive on goals. Use this to your advantage and set some metrics to follow. Start with your target in mind and work backwards to determine what actions are required to get you there, including the number of face-to-face gift requests, touchpoints, and formal gift requests.


  1. Develop a unique case for support.

Your case for support tells who you are as an organization, why you need support, and how that support will make an impact. Your case statement should include the following:

  • Past – Where have you been, and how has it shaped your organization?
  • Present – Where are you now? What is your mission? Show your impact through testimonials, statistics, and pictures.
  • Future – Where are you going? What is your vision? How can donors make that vision a reality? Focus on the return on their investment.
  1. Analyze and segment your donor base.

Identification — First, identify major gift prospects that you can personally visit. Then, identify donors from prior years who have not contributed during the current year.

Research — Conduct research on the prospects you have identified – both to determine the right amount to request, and to determine how they like to give by looking at prior year response methods. You can also find donors who may be open to upgrading their gift level by identifying those who have given the same amount year after year or who have been open to upgraded giving in the past.

Rating — Determine the best outreach strategy and prioritize your prospects. Decide who should get a personal visit, a custom message, or a mass communication.

  1. Know your engagement strategy.

Use a combination of different outreach methods and tailor your approach based on the priority of your prospects:


Don’t forget to request a specific gift, no matter which delivery method you use.

  1. Follow up!

The biggest mistake that organizations make is that they don’t ask for gifts. People give because they are asked – so ask! Another common mistake is that organizations don’t follow up. Don’t send your appeal materials and then hope for the best. Use a multi-step, multi-channel approach to follow up and secure decisions.


In the final week of the year, send multiple reminder emails, including one or two on December 31st. Communicate individually with your best prospects via phone calls, personal emails, social media messages, and text messages. Deadlines are a fundraiser’s best friend – use the year-end deadline to generate excitement, momentum, and results. Then communicate your success and start planning for next year!

Which outreach method has been effective for you at the end of the year? How early do you start planning your appeal? What planning are you doing right now for your year-end appeal?

For more end-of-year giving strategies and tips for launching your #GivingTuesday strategy, tune in to CCS’s on-demand webinar, “Beyond #GivingTuesday: Crafting A Winning Year-End Strategy.”

*Sources: Charity Navigator; Guidestar; Network for Good; Nonprofit Hub

About the Author(s)

Natalie is an Assistant Vice President with the CCS Mid-Atlantic team.