As a fundraiser, I get great joy out of typing the words, free money. I am amazed at how many radio stations do not do a year-end event.

As I travel, I often hear, our staff is chilling during the holidays, our team has worked hard all year long, our listeners don’t want another fundraising event, etc. My answer would be the following. Yes, your staff has worked hard, but they also work for a nonprofit station, and this is one of the things that must be done to keep the ministry strong. Only 3 percent of your listeners ever give, so there is room for growth, and it’s amazing how many of your listeners miss your fundraising event. How many times have you finished your pledge drive, and someone comes up and says something like, oh, I had no idea you did your pledge drive. Trust me: your listeners don’t listen to radio the way we dream they do or should.

The fact is that many people during December are giving away free money and all we have to do is catch it. Yes, I realize there is work involved but one that pays big dividends to the radio station.

Here are 12 interesting facts about year-end fundraising:

  • Nearly one-third of annual giving occurs in December.
  • 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year
  • Over 53% of nonprofits start planning their year-end appeal in October.
  • November (46%) and December (30%) are the most popular giving months for making year-end asks, but 7.7% of ORGS start as early as September.
  • 28% of nonprofits raise between 26-50% of their annual funds from their year-end ask.
  • Almost 60% of nonprofits make between 1-3 donor “touches” for their year-end campaign.
  • Direct mail is the most popular medium for year-end asks, followed by email, ORG website, and in-person asks.
  • The biggest giving day of the year is December 31st.
  • $48 Billion is donated to nonprofits in November and December each year.
  • Donors make 53% of larger first-time gifts in December than donors who start giving at another time of year.
  • 70% will donate through multiple channels. Because 7 out of 10 Americans will donate through multiple media, utilized a multi-channel outreach approach for end-of-year donations.
  • Women make 64% of all donations.

I love what Mobile Cause listed as the top four primary reasons donors give over the holidays:

  1. To be happier by helping others.
  2. To feel good about themselves by making a difference.
  3. To be connected to something positive.
  4. To take advantage of tax deductions.

I asked Dave Stephens, Development Director at the River in Columbus, and BJ Oneal, Chief Development Officer at WAY FM to weigh in on why they find a year-end event so crucial to their ministry.

“Nationally, nearly 1/3 of charitable giving occurs in the month of December. We believe that an intentional year-end fundraising strategy is an opportunity to bring onboard new listeners and encourage existing supporters while they are already thinking about giving. At our station we have also partnered with the local Salvation Army to provide Christmas dinners to local families in need. So for us, year-end fundraising is a way to partner with River listeners to feed both souls and mouths in our community.” – Dave Stephens, The River

“Fundraising at the end of the year is more critical than ever before. Because of analytics, we see with better clarity that people more and more purposely budget to give at the end of the year. The obvious – they are in a giving mood, but more important, they are looking for the places to support that they identify with. That’s great news especially for faith-based organizations where giving is apart of the fabric of our faith. We should make EOY fundraising as easy and smooth as possible because people are ready!” – BJ Oneal, WAY FM

Please keep in the back of your mind that the first significant milestone of year-end giving is coming up soon: #GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is the day people are encouraged to give back to charity. To get the most bang for your buck, I’d create a dedicated landing page for your year-end and #GivingTuesday campaigns.

I do a few year-end events, and it amazes me how many people are ready to give; they are just looking for the right place to make their donation. I love that because it’s a year-end event and a single ask, 99% of what is raised is in your bank account within a few days.

It’s helpful to find a ministry partner to go with the year-end ask. For example, I have one client who has tied their year-end ask to a local food bank so families in their area could have food for Christmas. It was a one-two punch. People want to give to your station and love it if their gift can double the impact. The station tied the ministry partner to a certain level of giving. For example, each $100 gift or $365 gift also released food for Christmas to a family in need in their community and kept their station on the air.

I would look at what a year-end event would look like for your station. I would also run promos, do social media, and have your website set up for donations on December 31st as well.  

At the end of it all, it’s free money for those who are ready to receive it.