Giving Season -- Are You Ready?

The holiday season is upon us. Is your nonprofit ready? I've heard it called the giving season, some just call it year-end, but you need to have a strategy, because everyone knows that year end can make you or break you for the whole year. On average, charities receive 41% of their total revenue for the entire year during the giving season. I'm sure you know that already, so the question is do you have a game plan for 2012?  

Overall Strategy

Look at what you did last year and in years past.  What worked? What didn't? Do you have anything new that you recently read about or want to try? Now is the time to gather people for a brainstorm and get your overall campaign set so you can start to look at the individual elements.


Now decide which avenues you're going to utilize to promote your campaign. I would suggest using the same channels that you have successfully used in the past, but then look for new potential areas for revenue, such as:

  • Email
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Search text ads
  • Display ads (through search contextual targeting and other vendors)
  • Direct mail
  • Print ads
  • And more! There are always new avenues and new things coming out, so if your organization has the resources to try something different, go for it!



As a search professional, I have to add one quick note about search. Has your organization tried advertising through search around year-end? If you haven't tried search yet, I would definitely recommend at least testing it. Google (or Bing) is often the first place that donors go when they want to make end of year donations. For example, they may not have decided the specific organization they want to donate to and may be searching for nonprofits to donate to by category. No matter the scenario, search has quickly become a heavyweight in online advertising, and you don't want to miss out on that potentially large source of revenue. Plus, if you have a Google Grants account, you can advertise to those potential donors for free! If you don't have a Google Grants account, I would still recommend testing out a small budget just to see the potential.


Make sure that your overarching campaign is consistent across all channels. If a potential donor gets one message in their email, when they visit your website they should see the same messaging.

Landing Pages

Once you have your campaign strategies in order, make sure you create powerful landing pages or donation pages. After all, it won't do any good if you drive people to your landing page but your page isn't effective enough to entice those people to take the final step and donate. A great test to do is look at your landing page like a stranger-- is it obvious what action you want them to do? Is your donate button big and red or have graphic effects to make it look enticingly clickable? Make sure your landing pages will work for you and aren't just an afterthought in your overall campaign.

To Test or Not To Test?

That is the question. I know when you have so much revenue on the line it can be scary to test what you know has worked in the past. But just redoing the same campaigns year after year isn't the answer either. The trick is to walk the fine line of doing what you know has worked in the past, and testing new elements to see if anything could work better. Always keep testing, because you never know what elements could fatigue or what elements could work that much better.

Finally, give yourself enough time to plan and implement your strategy. You'll need time to write enticing email copy, build out your search campaigns, or develop your landing pages. And with so much on the line for year end, you're better off giving yourself extra time to accommodate for anything that may pop up unexpectedly. Remember: over prepare, then go with the flow!

Have any tips or tricks that you've learned from past giving seasons?  Share a comment below.

1 comment about "Giving Season -- Are You Ready? ".
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  1. Julia McDowell from Williams Whittle, October 22, 2012 at 2:55 p.m.

    Here are some great tips and tricks I've compiled from my blog post on September. Thanks for the article Lauren.

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