Rethinking the End of the Year Appeal

Most sustainable giving happens at the end of the year. That’s a pretty well documented fact, along with the other well documented one: most nonprofits ask their donors for Fundraising Camp topicsupport at the end of the year. For us sustainable supporters, that means many many appeals, both postal and e. And I don’t know about you, but I find that I am putting these appeals in my inbox, to be dealt with “later” if at all.

Which has made me rethink popular wisdom.

For many of my clients—particularly my smaller ones where every penny spent hurts—I’ve been recommending not only pushing recurring giving but considering recurring getting. That is, instead of simply asking once or twice a year, do a monthly ask, asking people to make a recurring monthly gift via email and social media. Where they don’t have email addresses, I’m recommending postcards, pushing recipients to the website.

There are a lot of reasons for this. The aforementioned end of year glut being one. But also the idea that getting money in all year round will definitely smooth out the very rough patches most of my clients endure at certain times.

Done well, monthly appeals can also serve as monthly stewardship pieces. You don’t even have to segment out donors from not-yet donors; simply make your messaging work as an ask and an appreciation.

I haven’t completely backed off end of the year appeals, but I’m more likely now to suggest a very specific ask: to support something special, to focus on one aspect of the organization’s work. To make this an “and” gift for those who are (or will become) monthly contributors.

This may not be the best strategy for your organization. As my husband likes to remind me, one size does not fit all. But what does fit is a regular review of what you are doing, and a careful decision as to what you will do—and how you will do it.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits on improving fundraising results. Learn more at Check out upcoming workshops and classes, sign up for the free newsletter and email Janet for a free 30 minute consultation.



About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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1 Response to Rethinking the End of the Year Appeal

  1. Alex says:

    If this method is to be used, it is vital that the monthly ask is phrased perfectly. With such a high frequency of requests donors are likely to feel under appreciated and even harassed. The crucial factor must be to make them feel important and appreciated – after all its the very least they deserve

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