It’s online fundraising week. Are you in or out?

As the American college football season builds to a climax this week, so does the fundraising season. And this week is clearly THE week to be playing the game. So… are you in or out?

Year-end fundraising has two seasons: the holiday, feel-good gift-giving that encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, et al; and the tax-minimization gift-giving that takes place in the six days from December 26th through the 31st. It’s this later season that’s so pivotal, and yes, surprisingly, so few healthcare fundraisers are in the game.

A few years ago we gave to 30 cancer centers, online and in the mail. So far this “season”, we’ve heard from only 13. From the children’s hospitals to whom we gave in the past few months, only one-third have reached out to us this week.

The emails are generally short and to the point: a gift given before midnight on New Year’s Eve helps the fight against cancer now, and lets you take a tax deduction for that gift when you file with the IRS soon. With the major stock market indices celebrating their best year in decades, there will be a lot of income for the Federal and state governments to tax, and many financial-savvy donors are working this week at minimizing their “fair share.”

Consider this brief one from the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University:

The Season of Giving is almost over. Before the December 31st Charitable Gift Deadline consider making one last gift to OHSU just for you.

You can give the gift of health, hope, and a better tomorrow right here.

Make your gift today to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. You will make the year-end charitable giving cut-off and you will give a gift with many happy returns.

Thank you!

The copy isn’t that big a challenge! Four of the 13 cancer centers have a match campaign this week. Since this is the biggest week for online fundraising, and match campaigns generally raise the most money any time of year, this is a great example of that football truism, “when it’s third down and short yardage, go with your best running back and your best play.”

Of the 13 cancer centers who are fundraising now, seven have sent two emails since the 26th. I expect a third from all of them before midnight tomorrow.

One of our clients asked, “Which are the best days to send an email during this season?” and our answer was “Every day.” They got bold and sent six emails – one each day – each focusing on a way that they’ve contributed to cancer research and treatment in the past year. The result? Over $200,000 brought in during this one week!

Let’s review the pros and cons of “playing” in this giving season:

If you didn’t play, you:

  • avoided the internal arguments over copy and design, and the fight to pull the right donor data
  • spent more time with your family this holiday season

If you played, you:

  • raised more money — maybe a lot more
  • increased retention of your donors for next year, and, if you converted any from mail-only to online-also giving, increased that retention and donor value substantially

Still not convinced? Let me close with two more sports-related snippets:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky, hockey’s greatest player

Do you know who holds the baseball record for most strikeouts?  Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. But who cares? He swung the bat a lot… and connected a lot.


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