End of Year Donations

It’s January, and I’m pleased to say that I survived the end-of-year solicitation onslaught. With all the pain, suffering, and uncertainty all around us, this year-end was particularly challenging because of that low-level anxiety and stress that has been constant since the pandemic began.

Still, the hundreds of emails, snail-mail, and solicitations came — as usual.

My favorite part is the “make your annual gift” piece. For most of the organizations I donate to, I don’t make any kind of ongoing commitment, but most of the people soliciting me ask for my “annual gift” or my “renewal”. What chutzpah! Why can’t we just have a conversation about my intentions, and if I don’t want to commit to a regular contribution, you respect that, note it, and act accordingly?

As many of you have read in my book, Philanthropy Revolution, I’m a big proponent of authentic relationships between donors and fundraisers. Authenticity promotes trust, and trust promotes giving. If I have an honest, respectful relationship with a particular fundraiser, they will know that I am typically super busy with family stuff at the end of the year and that I am not, and have never been, an “end of the year” donor. I have a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), and like the nearly 1 million other DAF-holders, I have no need to give my donations in December.

I actually consider the December solicitations to be a gross annoyance. The solicitations become painful when they come daily during December and subject lines count down the “days I have left to donate”.

I understand that the piles of snail mail and pushy emails work for many organizations and that most NPO’s (Nonprofit Organizations) bring in a large portion of their annual revenue in Q4. But with the ability to easily parse/slice-and-dice your mailing list, can’t fundraisers just stop barraging folks like me at the end of the year?

DAF contributions are now at about 12%+ of overall individual donations, and that number is growing fast (remember that these are the folks that don’t care about donating at the end of the year). Yet we keep marketing as if most donors are giving in December. It feels like we in the nonprofit world now have our own “December Dilemma”. We can do better.


I’m thrilled to share my first book, Philanthropy Revolution, with the world. I’m lifting the lid on our charitable sector with an authentic account that describes exactly how outdated the sector has become and why it’s at risk of collapse. Get your copy here.

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- Lisa