How Did the Weekend Year-End Affect December Fundraising?

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 we felt a touch of anxiety about the tax deadline for 2017 (December 31) falling on a Sunday. We published a blog post about it and discussed it in our webinar. While there’s plenty to do now that we’ve survived year-end fundraising, we wanted to take a look back and evaluate our hypothesis about how a Sunday deadline would affect fundraising.

What we found

Our analysts are still crunching the numbers, but based on preliminary data from a set of enterprise nonprofit clients, it looks like the final days of the year were weaker in 2016 and 2017 than in 2015, when December 31 fell on a Friday.

EOY Graphic

As you can see in the chart above, the final days of 2017 represented a smaller share of total December donations than we saw in 2015. December 30, 2017, a Saturday, also lagged behind December 30 in 2016 and 2015 (a Friday and a Thursday, respectively) in terms of share of December donations.

Heeding our own predictions, Blue State Digital planned ahead for our clients and upped the volume of email sends between Giving Tuesday and New Year’s Eve. The effects of this increase in volume seem most pronounced in the days directly following Christmas. A more distributed December revenue share meant many organizations raised the same or more revenue without relying on the final few days.

Several of Blue State Digital’s enterprise nonprofit clients managed to see a higher gift share on the Sunday deadline in 2017 than on the Saturday deadline in 2016 — though the share represented by December 31 for both years for these clients still fell short of the Friday deadline in 2015. This suggests that Saturday may be uniquely bad among the days of the week for year-end fundraising, but we’ll need to do more analysis to be sure.

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

While December 30 falls on a Sunday in 2018, the good news is that deadline day finds itself on a weekday again, and you don’t need to worry about another weekend deadline day till 2022. So maybe bookmark this article for four years from now?

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.

Analytics contributed to this post by Lauren Barth.

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