As the nights get colder and the days grow shorter, your mind may wander towards thinking about a final ask from your top donors.  Year-end tax time is, in fact, the single most important time of the year for nonprofits. Fall is a time that donors want to maximize their tax write-offs and charitable contributions are a great way to do that. What better way to capitalize on this period than to launch a crowdfunding campaign, hold an event, run a silent auction or lock-in recurring annual donations?

Over 30% of annual giving donations are received in the month of December.

But don’t wait until the last minute to make your asks, since planning is important to avoid missing out on this opportunity and get your tax receipts sent out. In fact over half of nonprofits plan their year-end giving campaign in October.

12% of annual donations occur in the last 3 days of December.

Start thinking about how to approach your big donors as early as September or October latest so that you can ensure they are reached. Big asks are always best done in person or at least over the phone.  Interestingly, direct mail is very popular this time of year, and requires the most lead time to execute design, layout, printing and delivery.  E-mail follow-ups are a quick and easy way to reach your donors.  Circle Fund integrates well with MailChimp.com, and lets you synchronize donors and prospects directly into their software.

Direct mail is the most popular method of reaching donors, followed by e-mails and website donations.

Be sure to be ready to educate your donors with a quick and concise way to explain the importance of your appeal. Practise a 30 second elevator pitch to explain what your nonprofit does, and why they should care. A great way tell your story is to do this via social media.  Facebook is by far the best way socially to explain the importance of your cause and get it shared.  In fact, Facebook generates 4 to 5 times the shares that Twitter does, which is the second most effective social sharing method.

2/3rds of donors don’t do any research about the causes they donate to, relying most heavily on friends and family.

And year-end is also a time to think about your board members and volunteers.  They are often your “low-hanging” fruit for donations since they already are sold on your mission and are invested in your cause.

Volunteers are twice as likely to donate to your cause vs non-volunteers

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