How Do Weekends Affect Year-End Fundraising? (Update)

When we develop fundraising campaigns, there’s a reason we never set the deadline on a Saturday or Sunday — too risky! People are often away from their computers, in transit, with family, or otherwise occupied. So when December 31, the tax deadline for year-end fundraising, falls on or around a weekend, we always feel a touch of anxiety.

While there are plenty of other things you should be thinking about when it comes to fundraising, we thought it would be interesting to look at the revenue impact that weekends can have on one of the most important fundraising days of the year.

What we found

The year closed out on a Monday this past year, whereas it fell on a Saturday in 2016 and a Sunday in 2017. Fundraising on the final day of the year 2018 rebounded from the two previous years when we observed decreases in the number of donations coming in on 12/31. Revisiting a sample of BSD enterprise nonprofit clients, big and small, we saw a consistent increase in the share of donations coming in on 12/31 compared to the previous years, a 9.9% increase on average.

As you can see in the chart above, weekend days consistently represented a smaller share of total December donations than when those same calendar dates fell on weekdays.

We can also compare 2018 to 2015, when 12/31 was a Friday. It turns out, the average share for the 2018 Monday deadline was lower than the 2015 Friday average share (-14.3%). This trend was consistent across the sample.

In fact, the final weekend of 2018 was the lowest share of gifts for a 12/29 and 12/30 in the last three years. Perhaps this hindered momentum for the Monday 12/31 this year.

Of course, there are always exceptions to any trend, and this analysis focuses solely on December. Some organizations — especially our agency clients — created their own moments or were more aggressive earlier in the year to get ahead of year-end targets and mitigate the anticipated challenge of the final weekend. It’s possible this may have actually contributed to the decrease in the share of revenue for the final days!

Hopefully, the effects of the year-end weekend will be lessened somewhat in 2019, with December 31 falling on a Tuesday — but there’s still a few more months until we need to start worrying about that. In the meantime, you can check out our 2017 blog post and webinar on how to manage the final weekend with creative thinking earlier in the season.

Stay tuned for more year-end insights

We’ll publish more insights and results from our year-end fundraising efforts in the coming weeks. Sign up for email alerts at the bottom of this page to make sure we hit your inbox with the best ways to hit your supporters’ inboxes.


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