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More Proof That December Is Critical to Charities’ Annual Giving

Here’s a holiday cocktail-party fact for you: A third of charities’ online donations this year are made in December. Perhaps more remarkable: 22 percent of online gifts are made in the last two days of the year.

That’s a key finding of a seven-year study by Network for Good of online-giving behavior released last week.

And what may be more important about this time of year:  Donors who start giving in December are worth more over time. Over three years, the total amount they give is 52 percent higher than people who start giving at other times of year, according to Network for Good.

The Bethesda, Md., nonprofit organization, which processes online donations for charities and other groups, looked at how many donors were gained and lost from 2003 to 2009, as well as how much and how often they gave. Network for Good examined its database of about 1.9 million donors who have given a total of $381-million to about 70,000 nonprofit organizations.

The traditional spike in giving in December means an opportunity for charities to ensure that they are ready for “generous procrastinators,” says Bill Strathmann, Network for Good’s chief executive.

The study suggests that charities should start building e-mail lists and relationships with supporters in the fall; change their Web sites to make donation collecting their focus during December; and send several reminder e-mails during the last week of the year, preferably in the early morning before most people get to work.

The study also found that the prime time for online giving occurs on December 31 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in the donor’s time zone.

Will online fund-raising efforts be deterred this year because December 31 is a day off for many people?  ”My take is it’s not going to matter,” Mr. Strathmann says.

The full report, “The Online Giving Study: A Call to Reinvent Donor Relationships,” can be found at http://www.onlinegivingstudy.org.

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