10 Things Your Last Minute Online Donors Want

Holiday giving is expected to be over $48 billion this year, and at least $6 billion will be online, based on a new study by Convio.

43% of donors will give via direct mail and 21% from online appeals.

And 40-60% of those online gifts will be made in the last two days of the year.

Don’t forget that online donors are  wealthier, higher-dollar and younger donors.

Here’s what they are looking for:

1. They want to feel good about their gift.

Remember that your donor is making a personal, emotional statement with their gift. They are not shopping for hardware or bath towels.

Talk a lot about the good they are doing. Put evocative photos on your donation page.

Make your post-gift finish page warm and fuzzy. Send a lovely thank you note that touches their heart.

2. They want to feel connected to the cause.

In the Convio study, 74% of people said they responded most to emotional solicitations that provide info on the people, animals or places in need of their assistance.

Get yourself and your organization out of the way.

Don’t ask for your organization, instead ask donors to help the animals, trees, kids, sick people, students, artists, whoever you are serving and helping.

As I like to say, “You gotta play that violin” and make the emotions stir!

3.  They want to know where the gift is going.

They want to know exactly what their gift is accomplishing – and the impact it will have. Lay it out clearly and don’t mess around.

Recap your outcomes and accomplishments for the year, and let them know what’s next.

Be specific.

4.  They want holiday gifts that will support your cause.

Help your donors make gifts, and offer easy shopping for nontraditional gifts. Try these opportunities:

  • Last minute holiday gifts” – promote gift memberships that your donors can give to others.  The World Wildlife Fund sends a “Last Minute Ways to Say Happy Holidays” e-mail that suggests adopting an animal on someone’s behalf online.
  • Avoid the crowds and shop at home” – buy from our shop on line and ship to those on your gift lists.
  • Holiday e-cards for your family and friends” – a green alternative that can promote your nonprofit AND carry a donation to your cause.

5.  They want to be reminded.

It’s ok to remind your loyal donors about the need and how they can help.

They’re busy, busy, busy.  And repeating your appeal is always more powerful and successful than a single ask that goes out as a stand-alone effort.

Check out this sample year-end email campaign that had three messages going out the last week of the year:

  • December 23: a “holiday support” email
  • December 29: an email emphasizing tax deductible giving opportunities
  • December 31: a final “last chance to donate” email

6. They want choices.

And all donors have a different vision of how they want to help you and how they want to give.

So be sure to offer them a variety of ways to support you and different giving opportunities all tied to specific results your organization achieves. .

7.  They want an uncomplicated check out.

Remember that a majority of would-be donors never make it through the process to complete their gifts. Some stats show that 98% of visitors to an organization’s donate page do not complete their gift.

Make your donate page seamless and easy to whiz through.

Check out this list of the 11 Deadly Sins of Donate Page Design from  Be sure you avoid these common mistakes in nonprofit donate pages:

  • Cluttered pages
  • Unintuitive layouts
  • Unclear directions
  • Too long, complex forms
  • Unnecessary fields
  • No address or phone number
  • Error messages are confusing

8.  They want back up data on your results.

Be sure your web site is up to date and conveys credibility.

Remember that over 65% of ALL DONORS will probably check out your web site before they write a check or make a gift, according to Kivy Leroux Miller of

Here’s my list of the Top 10 Things donors want from your website. And be absolutely sure that your call to action is clear, concise and directive!

9.  They want to donate quickly.

Make it easy for impatient online donors who are in a hurry.  If you make it difficult for them, they’ll be gone – probably to another nonprofit’s site.

Make your home page on your site optimized for donations. Put an extra large “donate now” button right on that page. (Yes, size does matter!)

And try adding a photo on the inside of the button so that it has a human face.  (Dogs and children are wonderful.)

Check out Network for Good’s three tips for the best donate button: make it big; put it above the fold, and create a simple, easy-to-use contribution form.

10. They want it simple.

Since they are busy, busy, busy, don’t over complicate your site or the ask. People visiting your site at year-end are there for one purpose only – to give.

Put the ask right up front and make it easy for them.

These strategies will help you bring in lots and lots of online gifts. Before you know it you’ll be zooming past your fundraising goals for year-end!

Happy prospecting and may generous donors flood in to your site and your cause!

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think!

  • Karen Rindge, WakeUP Wake County


    Many thanks for your helpful tips! We so appreciate them and your thoughtful advice. We are doing our best to implement your recommendations into the operations of WakeUP Wake County!

    Happy Holidays,
    Karen Rindge

  • jackie allen

    Wonderful info especially for me as a newcomer in the field. Thanks for sharing!

  • Naomi Hammeke

    Many thanks for your ideas.

  • Bob Kennel

    Great advice, again. I’ve sent it to our building committee at church.
    Bob Kennel

  • Louise Coggins

    Gail, we love this great info! Thanks for all you do for all of us. Best, Louise

  • Andria Nolan

    Loved your tips for year end giving. We made some changes to our website and will be sending out an email blast three times before the end of the year as a follow ip to our direct mail piece. Thanks!!

  • Amy Eisenstein

    Such great tips for year-end online giving! For those organizations feeling left behind for this year, start now for next year. December 2011 will be here before you know it.

    Also, be sure to integrate your online and traditional mail campaigns. You never know when your snail mail campaign will send someone to their computer to donate online, and vice versa, they may receive your email and get out their checkbook. Do both to optimize giving!

  • Betsy Baker

    GREAT information, Gail! Nonprofits everywhere should follow this advice. I’m tweeting right now…

  • Bunnie Riedel

    Wow! Read and re-read. Great tips and inspiration for the end of year solicitation letter. Thanks gail.

  • Polly Laurelchild-Hertig

    Gail, terrific, on-the-money advice as always! Thank you! I have printed your checklist and am going over our end of year plans with it, line by line.

  • Jenny Mitchell

    Gail -
    Great stuff. I know, I’m personally connected to the content. (I bought a couple of those WWF stuffies for my two girls) I also connected on a professional level too – donors want to feel connected to the cause. We have heard it so many times this year – thanks again for sharing. JennyM

  • Sandy Rees

    Right on the money, honey!


  • Alison Rapping

    Gail, great post. Loved it and forwarded to a number of my favorite clients. If they can’t implement for 2010, they have for 2011. Fabulous! Happy New Year.