Are Timing and Donations Interrelated?

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by F. Duke Haddad

I have been asking for money from individuals, corporations, foundations, associations and organizations for many years. I have certainly been involved in many face-to-face asks. I have also created mailings, made phone call asks, generated email blasts, sent appeals using a variety of social media platforms and the list goes on. Even though I have performed these tasks for several decades, I always feel more pressure to secure financial contributions from October 1 to December 31 each year. It is like the Indianapolis 500 race, seeking to reach the finish line first with successful results. We know our field contains elements of art and science. Have you wondered if timing and donations are interrelated?

Nonprofit Hub points out that asking for donations is intimidating. We all know that fundraising is helping others connect an existing passion directly to your cause. Once donors believe your cause is worthy of supporting, they will contribute to it. According to Nonprofit Hub, tips include research your donors, practice your ask, never surprise your prospect, stop being boring and ask for advice.

With respect to the best time to ask for a donation, according to The Borgen Project, it is noted that people who are in a good mood tend to be generous. Psychology Today and Lifehacker noted that the best time to ask for a favor is when the sun is shining and right after meals. Knowing the proper time to ask for donations is key to successful fundraising.

It is important to get the donor to feel and not think. People are more likely to give if they feel some type of sympathy toward a cause. It is important for the asker to be authentic and truthful. Use kind words that inspire and show passion for the cause. Make sure the setting is right for the ask to take place. You need to obtain a feel for when the time is right to ask for a gift. Experience over time will supply you with this knowledge and confidence.

Neon One recently pointed out 10 statistics every fundraiser should know at this time of year. These statistics are as follows:

  1. Nearly one third of annual giving occurs in December.
  2. 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.
  3. Approximately 54% of nonprofits start planning their year-end appeal in October.
  4. November (46%) and December (31%) are the most popular months for making year end asks, and 8% of nonprofits make year-end asks in September.
  5. 28% of nonprofits raise between 26% to 50% of their annual funds from their year-end ask.
  6. 36% of nonprofits raise less than 10% of their annual funds from their year-end ask.
  7. Two-thirds of people who make donations do research on nonprofits before giving.
  8. Volunteers are twice as likely to donate than non-volunteers.
  9. 60% of nonprofits make between one to three donor “touches” for their year-end campaign.
  10. Direct mail is the most popular medium for year-end asks, followed by email, website and in-person asks.

According to an article by Winspire, there is a new weeknight alternative to Saturdays for many special events. Many people do not want to attend a weekend special organizational event because they are burned out, do not want to stay late or spend a lot of money. An alternative next best weeknight day seems to be Thursday. If this occurs, organizations will save funds on expenses, babysitters are more available on weeknights and there is less competition on your donor’s calendars. Many individuals feel a weeknight event is part of their work week and will attend these scheduled functions.

There are also optimal times to make your social fundraising asks, as pointed out by Goodworld. Organizations need to know when their donors will be more willing to donate. Through research on this subject and monitoring donation trends, Facebook gets most engagement from noon to 4:00 p.m. Twitter has the most traffic from noon to 3:00 p.m. with a spike on Wednesdays between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Overall, people are most generous on social media daily from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Facebook and Twitter experience greater traffic on Wednesdays. Overall, Thursdays seem to be the most generous day of the week for social media. Take advantage of these days by making your social media fundraising asks during the middle of the work week.

Access Group notes fundraising is more art than science. It is extremely hard in nature. Public giving generally peaks in November and December, and event sponsorships peak in May, June and July. Pitching your asks for success depends on finding the right time of year to ask based upon your donor needs and wants. Regardless of timing, when a donor gives, start the cultivation cycle immediately and thank them. Build a relationship with them and communicate information to them on the importance of their gift. Your job is to create a healthy, engaging and constructive giving environment that inspires action and a regular pattern of asks over time.

Timing and donations can be interrelated. Take the time to research your giving results based on a variety of variables. Determine for your organization the best time to solicit your target markets based on the various platforms used and your organizational priorities. Your case for support must be strong and compelling. Tell impact stories, and make sure donor donations are sound investments. At this time of year, leave no stone unturned and step up your fundraising pace. There will be time to slightly rest at the beginning of the new year!

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