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Are you ready for it? Year-end giving.

By Ann Fisher

Director of Annual Giving, Leadership Annual Giving and Data Services, Michigan Medicine


As we breeze through the last of the warm sunny days of summer, it is easy to forget that the giving season is right around the corner.  Whether for tax purposes or due to warmth of feeling around the holidays, people are far more inclined to give at calendar year-end. Studies estimate that around 30-50% of healthcare annual giving program revenue comes in during year-end campaigns, so now is the time make sure your organization is ready for the coming giving season.

Here are some quick tips for year-end giving as you review and finalize your plans.

  • Mail before turkey. Before you sit down to your Thanksgiving feast, be sure that your final mailing(s) of the year are ready. Thanksgiving through the end of the year is a busy time for both mail houses and the US postal service, with a lot of competition from for profits and nonprofits alike to get their mail out around the holidays. To ensure your appeals are in mailboxes just before December, get them to the print house in early.
  • The more the merrier. Nobody should be alone around the holidays, and neither should your email. One is not enough, so make sure you have a sequence of emails planned. You can do a leader and chase around your mail, but since it will drop early December, you will also want to do at least two emails closer to the end of the month to remind donors that the ball drops and the year ends. M+R Benchmark found that 5% of all digital revenue comes in on December 31st, so you will want to make sure to send one of the emails on that day to take advantage of the sense of deadline.
  • Don’t be a Scrooge with your channels. Text messaging and social media ads should be invited to your year-end giving strategy. While these channels do not receive as many direct gifts, studies have shown that sending text messages and running social media ads around the time of your appeals will generate better results overall, making them worth the time and investment.
  • When to make the call. For the leadership annual giving donors, you need to renew by year-end, make sure that you start your outreach to them in early November. You can take a break around Thanksgiving, but if by mid-December, you haven’t connected with them, leave a final voicemail message and follow up with a “sorry I missed you” email or text.  After mid-December donors go into full out holiday mode and most donors will be less likely to visit with you during this time as they are busy enjoying time with friends and family. The focus of your conversations should be about gift renewal and then reconnect with them after the holidays for a visit.
  • Avoid Christmas in January. Although tax benefits aren’t as strong of an incentive as they used to be, donors still want to give by calendar year-end, and they can be disappointed if their gift isn’t recorded until January.  To help avoid this, be sure encourage online giving as much as possible toward the end of the year. Some donors just prefer to give via mail though, so it helps to include language in your appeals that reminds them of the calendar year-end deadline, so they don’t dawdle in returning their gift.

Whether the calendar year-end is also your fiscal year-end or just the mid-way point for your organization, it remains a critical time of year for giving.  Hopefully these tips will help you set a solid plan for the end of the year while you are soaking up those last rays of summer sun.


ABOUT GOBEL SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS: GOBEL Subject Matter Experts are healthcare philanthropy professionals working in some of the top shops in the country, sharing best practices and insights. For more information about GOBEL’s Subject Matter Expert program, or to suggest a topic for coverage, email

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Fisher is a fundraising professional with more than 25 years of experience in annual giving. Ann began her career at Hospice of Michigan where she developed numerous skills from data base management to grant and appeals writing. From there she moved on to University of Detroit Mercy where she spend nearly 20 years in annual giving, eventually becoming their Executive Director of Annual Giving and Data Services. During her time at Detroit Mercy, Ann was instrumental in introducing new initiatives like online giving and crowdfunding while also improving the ROI in phone and mail and coordinating the University’s President’s Cabinet leadership giving program. Ann then spent two years at UC San Diego as Senior Director of Integrated Marketing, where she launched their first Day of Giving and restarted their grateful patient giving program. Ann currently works at Michigan Medicine where she serves as Director of Annual Giving, Leadership Annual Giving and Data Services. In 2021 Ann and her colleagues were selected as CASE Platinum Award Finalists in the Best Practices in Fundraising Award for their Nurses Week Campaign, which raised over $80,000 from 1,300 donors during the height of the pandemic. She has also served as a judge for the CASE Circle of Excellence Awards. In her spare time, Ann is an avid runner and has run several half and full marathons as a charity runner to raise money for various causes.

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