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Monday, December 28, 2020

3 Data-Driven Tips to Maximize Your Online Fundraising During this Last Week of the Year

The end of the year is fast approaching and time (and work days) are running out so let me get straight to the point: the single biggest day and week for online giving are coming up. 

Are you ready? 

In our benchmark looking at over $100M in online giving in 2019, we found that 37% of all online year-end revenue comes in during the last week of the year and 15.5% is given on December 31st alone!

Whether you already have a structured plan in place or are scrambling to pull something together for these last few days, here are 5 ideas you can use to maximize your online fundraising in these last few days.

#1: Make sure you have a clear donate button in the navigation

This may sound simple, but we make hundreds of donations each year and you’d be surprised at how hard to find some donate buttons actually are. And this is especially important at year-end as more people are actively looking to give.

When we looked at where donations were coming from (by channel) we found that donations from search — organic and paid — went from 32% for the year to 39% in year-end time to 43% on December 31st showing that at this time of year, more than ever, people are actively searching and looking to make a donation. So make sure you can more quickly and easily get people looking to give to your donation page!

In this experiment — #6991 in our research library — by making the donate button easier to find, the organizations saw a 74% increase in donations and 133% increase in average gift. 

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Donate Button Tips

  • Separate out your button from other navigation items

  • Make it a button and different color from the rest of the navigation

  • Use a clear call to action term like “Donate” or “Give”

#2: Use a homepage banner or ad

Similarly, some people may visit your homepage and start scrolling to get more information and this is where a homepage banner or homepage ad can be effective in presenting your year-end ask. 

It can look something like this:

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Using a homepage banner or homepage ad is a way to get more people from the homepage to your donation page and it becomes more critical the closer you get to the end of the year. 

For example, one organization that was testing a Double Your Gift call to action vs. a more general “Give to Help Families” message (which was their message) found no difference between the two messages BUT they did see a pretty significant change in the number of people who gave as time went on.

Here’s how donations were affected over time:

  • From Dec. 6 – Dec. 13, they saw a 1.1% conversion rate on their banner.

  • From Dec. 21 – Dec. 27, they saw a 4.6% conversion rate.

Two takeaways from that experiment:

  1. 4x as many people gave in the last full week of the year compared to a full week earlier in December and

  2. Almost 5% of people who clicked that ‘ad’ while scrolling the homepage went on to give

Homepage Banner or Ad Tips

  • Use a color and/or content block that stands out as people scroll

  • Have a clear headline asking for a gift

  • Point the banner or ad directly to your year-end donation page

#3: Try sending 2 emails on December 31st

For your last push, try sending two emails on the last day of the year. 

And no, I don’t mean that you need to take the time to draft up two different sets of copy and messages. These emails can be simple and concise. They should serve as a reminder of the deadline for your year-end campaign and create urgency around the goal (which you hopefully have). 

The good news is, you probably have the first drafted up but if not, on the morning of December 31st, send your donors an email reminding them that you haven’t yet received their gift. 

And then, on the evening of December 31st, send them a follow-up, forwarded or threaded email — or copy and pasting a new email so it looks like a forward or threaded email — from earlier in the morning with a quick note asking if they received your original email. This message should be short, personal, and just serves to remind them once again of your goal. 

Here’s an example that we received in our aggregate donor inbox that employs this strategy:

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Send 2 Emails on December 31st Tips

  • Try sending your email from a person, not an organization, and be sure to call the donor by their name

  • In email 1…

    • Acknowledge the deadline and the urgency to give 

    • Tell them that you haven’t received their donation yet 

    • Announce or re-state any incentives to give before the deadline 

    • Ask for an immediate donation with a direct link to give

  • In email 2…

    • Ask if they received email 1

    • Quickly remind them of the campaign and ask

    • Ask for an immediate donation with a direct link to give 

#4: Use a countdown clock on your donation page

Using a countdown clock on your donation page is an excellent way to convey urgency around your goal and the deadline with it in a visual way. Remember that the deadline isn’t the reason to give but it is a reason to give today so the visual reinforcement can help increase urgency.

In this experiment, the organization saw a 62% increase in giving simply by adding the countdown clock to their page:

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But don’t use the countdown clock too early! When we look at conversion rates with a countdown clock on the page, it really only makes a difference in the last 2 or 3 days tops so only show it then.

Countdown Clock on Your Donation Page Tips

  • Use a tool like POWR to create a countdown clock you can use on your donation page

  • Keep your message focused on why a donation is needed and how it will make an impact and let the visual clock help communicate the urgency

  • Don’t show the countdown clock until the last 2 or 3 days maximum

#5: Use your donation form on your homepage

This is for more advanced folks and not for the faint of heart but if you REALLY want to help donors get to your donation page quicker on December 31st you can do a ‘homepage takeover’ or redirect. This means that people who visit your homepage will actually be redirected to your year-end donation page or that page will take the place of the homepage itself.

Remember, more people that at any point in the year are visiting your website looking to give. This organization found that over 60% of their traffic on December 31st was actually going to visit the homepage so they tested this ‘homepage takeover’ idea and saw a 24% increase in giving!

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Homepage Takeover Tips

  • Make sure you test this concept if you haven’t done it before showing ALL your homepage visitors the donation page (you can do this pretty easily with something like Google Optimize)

  • Set some parameters — using personalization in Google Optimize or similar — that only shows this to first time visitors and not to people visiting pages like your donation page

  • Consider having a simple navigation or exit intent pop-up with additional links (normally not advisable on a donation page but can help here)


This is the biggest time of online giving of the year and more people than ever are visiting your site looking to make a gift. Make it easy for them to find out where to give and drive traffic to your donation page with two emails on December 31st. And, remember, the end of the year helps create urgency but the most important thing is to still answer the question ‘why should I give’ and communicate the need for and impact of a donation.

Those are just 5 quick ideas, but if you’re looking for further support to close out your year strong or want to dive deeper into the data and ideas for the last week of the year, check out this quick session that I put together for you with 3 Ways to Maximize Your Online Fundraising During the Last Week of the Year.

Good luck!

Written by Brady Josephson -- a charity nerd, adjunct professor, and international speaker and serves as the Managing Director of the NextAfter Institute where he performs original research, develops evidence-based resources, and provides data-driven training to help nonprofits raise more money online. You can connect with him on LinkedIn at in/bradyjosephson, and follow him on Twitter, @bradyjosephson.

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