Even if you’re sitting on the beach right now feeling the sand between your toes, it’s time to start thinking about the “C” word. Christmas. Because, as all nonprofit marketers know, most charitable giving happens during the month of December. Perhaps that’s because people feel more generous, or they want to take advantage of the tax write off at the end of the year. Regardless of what motivates them, how your organization prepares for end-of-year giving is crucial to your success.

  • 33% of donations are made during December
  • 10% are made during the last three days of the year
  • 80% give larger donations during the holidays 

Here are six tips to get you thinking about the most wonderful time of the year.

Start Now

It’s never too soon to start putting a holiday strategy into place. Typically, most organizations start reaching out about two weeks before Thanksgiving. The earlier you reach out to donors, the more top of mind you’ll be when they start deciding how they’re going to distribute their donation dollars.

While it’s important to get at least one appeal out at the end of the year, when you think about donor stats, this is the perfect time to take advantage of multiple communication touches.

Mix up your DM formats

We all know traditional direct mail works best for nonprofits. Per your budget, consider several DM touches using different formats. One obvious package is a holiday card—which is a great way to connect with donors emotionally because it feels more personal. Other formats to consider include holiday calendars, letter packages in large carriers, creative pop ups, magazine style formats, and check off lists (like Santa’s).

Incorporate holiday themes

Most people appreciate and enjoy the festiveness of the holidays. Get creative with holiday-oriented design elements, like strings of Christmas lights or snowflakes, and incorporate bright colors, fun imagery, and shiny foils or stamping. Copywriters can embrace the season by weaving popular holiday songs and sayings into the copy (‘Tis the Season, The 12 Days of Christmas, Holly Jolly).

Tell heartwarming stories

Share stories that will pull at donor’s heartstrings. If you’re sending several communications, this may not always be easy to pull off, especially if the format doesn’t offer much space for copy. But make sure at least one of your communications invests in storytelling, the kind that is both genuine, honest, and heartfelt. The more your recipient connects to your mission and feels the passion behind it, the more likely he or she is to give.

Personalize it

This may seem like a simple tip but it’s surprising how much direct mail we see that doesn’t incorporate personalization (for instance, a self mailer addressed to “our friend at 12 Boxwood Street.”) Thanks to digital printing it’s easy to upgrade that “friend” to a specific person. Incorporate people’s names whenever you can.

Consumers also expect communications to be tailored to their interests and needs. Thanks to technology, we can create highly targeted customer lists with messaging and offers to match. If possible, be sure to customize messaging to specific segments of your audience—from regular donors to random donors to prospects.

Don’t forget email and social media!

Direct mail has the highest ROI out of all the marketing communications channels. And when you combine it with email and social and that ROI increases. Plus, social media is a great place to interact with your donor audience and develop relationships. Talk about personalization!

Thinking about end-of-year planning now can help make fundraising more lucrative for your organization. Let your donors know how much you appreciate them, and let them know how their gift helps. Happy planning!