Is December a Time to Plan for Year-End Charitable Giving?

Year End December 31

Actually, no, it’s not. If you’re not done by then, you’ve missed the boat.

I remember receiving a call asking us if we could “do a last-minute year-end mailer” just before Thanksgiving.

Actually, we receive these types of last-minute calls every time. Why is this last-minute? I’ve explained it more below.

For now, we usually recommend preparing for year-end in August or September, but since this isn’t the first last-minute call we’ve received, I suppose a new strategy is in order. So going forward, I am recommending you prepare for year-end giving between January and August. Because if you don’t, you will simply never get around to it. Besides, just imagine how you’ll feel when September-October rolls around:

You will be able to enjoy the fact that the simple task of getting that mailer together is already dealt with.

(I plan my Thanksgiving postcards 4 years ahead of time.)

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

Now, back to that “last-minute” phone call. There were three things wrong with it:

  1. Obviously, there’s not enough time. You have to strategize, get your list ready, prepare copy, design, get staff approval, re-edit, print and mail. Since it’s late, it has to be First Class Mail.
  2. One-shot mailings seldom (never) work. That is marketing 101.
  3. There’s too much competition around Christmas anyway — everyone is sending something. Your message will just get lost in the crowd.

And what do you do if you get lucky and someone wants to make a complicated or sizeable gift that requires and attorney and can be time-consuming?

The Biggest Takeaway Above is #2.

If you are after a specific goal, you need to send mailings at least 3 times. How many people get married after a first date? Some effort is required here.

This is one of the most difficult marketing concepts that nonprofits and businesses have grasping. And yet it’s so obvious.

Repetition is Key.

This is why planned giving newsletters fail, for example. It’s not because they do not get read. It is because they are executed very poorly. Note the emphasis on “very.” Here’s an article on the definitive guide to planned giving newsletters.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some planning to do — those 2024 Thanksgiving cards won’t write themselves, you know.

Happy Thanksgiving. And continued success in 2020.

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