By Sarah B Lange under Appeals, Fundraising, Individual Donors, Year-end giving on November 12, 2020

We’re in the middle of a whacky weather week (temps in the 60s and 70s, which is about 20 degrees warmer than usual), which is messing with my mind. Because I’m still wearing sleeveless shirts, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away!

Whether we’re ready for it or not, the holiday giving season will soon be upon us!

More than THIRTY percent of all donations will be made between December 1st – 31st. Last year, nearly $93 BILLION was contributed in December; just over $37 BILLION was donated the last 3 days of the year. This year – despite the pandemic — those numbers are projected to increase. (Why? Because philanthropy is responsive!)

Hopefully, the emails I’ve been sending and the webinar I hosted with Adrian Sargeant have helped you craft an appeal letter that will crack the hearts of your donors w-i-d-e open, and you’ll bring in more money than ever before!

But we can’t stop there! The #1 reason people stop giving is because they feel their gift no longer matters.

But it does.

And so do they.

We need to ensure that our donors know they matter.

That they’re important.

That we can’t do this work without them.

Because honestly, we can’t.

Government contracts don’t cover the bills.

Foundation giving is flat.

If we want to raise more money, we need to tap the billions of dollars that individuals give away every year.

Proportionately, people in middle and lower income strata give away more of their income than the wealthy. So the donors we need to sustain our work are all around us – down the street, around the corner, perhaps even right under our nose.

One of the best ways to KEEP a donor is to take good care of them!

And that starts with GRATITUDE.

Have you written this year’s thank you letter? Please do not use the one you sent out the year before… and the year before that! You might as well send out a piece of paper that says, Blah, blah, blah, tax exempt gifting language, signed the executive director. I know that sounds a little harsh, but that’s how it feels to your donors when they read this type of a letter. Cold. Impersonal. And lacking significance and gratitude.


Donors are giving you their hard-earned money because they care about the people/animals/environmental cause that your organization embodies. They want the world to be a different place in precisely the way you’re trying to shape it.

Their donation is a sign of their desire. Their hope. They can’t do what it is you’re doing, so they’re making a contribution as a way of saying, “Here. Please help me make the world a better place.” It’s a gift that’s made from their heart.

This year, write a heartfelt letter that echoes the theme of your appeal. Let your donor know how much they matter – and how central they are to making the world a better place. Make them the hero of the story. Help them feel wanted. Needed. Essential.

Engage in stewardship like this all year long, and I’m willing to guarantee that not only will your donor retention rate increase, but your donations will, as well.

I’m here to help you in any way I can! If you’ve got any questions, you can book a free, 15-minute Pick My Brain session here:


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