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Late December Gifts By Shelley Cochrane

Expecting and Responding to Late December Gifts

Thirty percent of annual giving occurs in December when everyone’s philanthropic tendencies begin to kick into high gear. This makes it a fantastic time of year to reach beyond your new and active donors, and reengage those lapsed donors as well. But don’t stop there!

This is also the perfect time to communicate with your major donors in your direct mail communications stream.

As you are laying the groundwork for a robust, fourth-quarter fundraising season, it’s as important as ever to make sure your donors are seeing the impact they are making in the lives of those you serve. Your organization has been doing wonderful, life-changing work that has been made possible by the generosity of your supporters . . . and all of your donors need to see that! Your direct-response fundraising channels are the perfect vehicle to deliver this important message while simultaneously providing donors with the opportunity to make their generous, heartfelt, year-end gifts.

If your fundraising appeals and newsletters are connecting and engaging your supporters with the changed-life stories they are a part of, then your VIP donors should be receiving these messages too! And doing so can yield some wonderfully unexpected results.

Just recently, an organization we serve had historically been excluding major donors from their direct-response channels . . . until they began partnering with us. They began strategically including those donors into their fundraising communication stream and, wow, were they thrilled with the results! They received several high-value gifts in response to their direct mail appeals from these donors, including a $25,000 gift from a donor who had been unresponsive to all of the previous requests from their major gifts team!

Direct-response fundraising can go hand-in-hand with your face-to-face relationships by helping enhance and deepen these VIP donors’ connection to your organization, and just might be opening up the opportunity for some unexpected December gifts!


  • Add a personal touch!
  • Treat your major donors with special attention in these appeals with a handwritten, personal note, acknowledging how grateful you are for their continued support
  • Incorporate very specific ask amounts to avoid downgrading a potentially much larger gift


Shelley Cochrane is the Vice President, Strategic Partnerships for Douglass Shaw and Associates. Experienced in strategy and innovation proven to grow organizational revenue, Shelley consults with nonprofit executives to help them advance their causes.



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