Year-End Giving: Make the Final Days Count!

End-of-year giving

It’s mid-December, and the countdowns are on: enchanted children count down the nights until a special visitor comes down the chimney, caffeine-fueled college students number the hours left to cram for final exams, tired teachers easily enumerate the days remaining until winter break, perky television personalities announce (again and again!) the minutes until the ball drops, and hopeful nonprofit leaders eagerly await a big spike in their CRM dashboard on December 30 and December 31.

According to Charity Navigator, nearly one-third of annual charitable giving in the U.S. happens in the month of December, with an astounding 12% occurring on the final two days of the year! The countdown to year-end giving is happening fast, but it’s not too late to position your nonprofit well to take advantage of this last-minute gush of generosity; here are a few tips on how to execute your year-end appeals and make these final days count.

  • Create a persistent presence. Differentiate your nonprofit by staying on the top of supporters’ minds. There is a lot of competition for year-end dollars in the crowded nonprofit sector, and dedicated donors typically give to 4 or 5 charities, according to Nonprofits Source. Make yours one that stands out to your community! Leading up to the end of the year, share content consistently and creatively (Instagram stories are a great attention-grabber!), post daily if possible, and email up to three times per week. Don’t just ask; share impact and accomplishments, announce your outlook for the future, and thank donors and volunteers for the difference they’ve already made. Knowing they’ve helped and that they’re appreciated will increase their desire to give again!


  • Appeal to their selfish side. Donors are some of the best folks around — there’s no doubt about it! But as much as they care about helping others, they’ve got their bottom line to consider, too. So, let them know how supporting your work in December can help their wallet in April. Even those who don’t itemize can take advantage of tax savings extended through the CARES Act; individuals can deduct up to $300 in charitable contributions, and married couples filing jointly up to $600. Be the group that gives the reminder, and savvy donors will likely give back to you! Similarly, if your organization has Community Investment Tax Credits available, don’t keep them a secret!


  • Pick up the phone! Thank you calls should be a habit year-round, but they can be especially effective this time of year. Even though many folks on the other end of the line won’t pick up, they’ll probably listen to your voicemail. A well-timed, heartfelt message from an Executive Director, Development Director, Board Member, or Program Staffer will have recipients feeling warm and fuzzy and ready to give when they receive your next email request. Pay attention when your phone rings on December 31, too! Be sure to have at least one staff member have calls forwarded, even if your office is closed, so you don’t miss out on a last-minute gift from a donor who isn’t comfortable charging their credit card online.


  • Remember: Done is better than perfect! These are words I live by, and they are my gift to you this holiday season. Your communications with supporters don’t have to be beautifully designed or grammatically perfect. Just be honest and heartfelt, share specifics of what your organization needs, and be clear that your clients do need the help of your donors. The number one reason donors don’t give is because they aren’t asked: don’t let perfection get in the way of asking!


Add a few of these actions to your holiday to-do list, and start the countdown to a happy New Year’s Eve for your nonprofit, and a happy new year for the people you serve!


Katie Norton helps nonprofits and small businesses garner attention and support for the great work they’re doing through her communications consultancy, By Katie Norton. A full-time fundraiser for 15 years, she learned the ropes serving some of Baltimore’s best: the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the University of Maryland Medical System, and the Ulman Foundation. The pandemic brought out Katie’s inner introvert, and she’s now content to be the one behind the scenes, birdwatching out the window as she writes, and ready to greet her boys as they run off the school bus. Katie can be found on the trails of Loch Raven, and at