Episode 1: The best time of year to ask for money- according to science

Have you ever met a fundraiser who did not run a year end campaign of some sort? I know I haven’t!

Now, I don’t know about you, but fundraising aside, November and December are two of the most stressful months for me. Between the craziness of holiday travel, finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, oh and let’s not forget those COVID variants- the holiday season is rife with stress.

So, is this really the best time to ask for donations?

That is exactly what researchers Müller and Rau are interested in researching at the University of Gottingen in Germany. Their article, Too cold for warm glow? Christmas-season effects in charitable giving, digs into the findings from their research and provides some food for thought for all of us fundraisers scrambling to raise money at year end.

Here’s what you can expect to take away from this episode…

⦿ Data indicating why year-end may not be the best time to ask for donations

⦿ My key takeaways from Müller and Rau’s research

⦿ Tips for running experiments to determine whether your organization should continue your year-end giving campaign

Sneak peek at the episode

⦿ [5:38] The researchers asked: “Is it that more money is collected in the Christmas season solely because of higher fundraising activity? Or is it that during this time people generally give more?”
⦿ [8:50] Based on other research of the effects of stress on empathy, we know that increased stress decreases empathy. The researchers hypothesized that perhaps the increased stress of Christmastime decreases donor empathy, so they are less likely to give at year end.
⦿ [12:00] Taken together, the results from study one and study two suggest that charitable giving overall is about 30% lower in the Christmastime as compared to the summer.
⦿ [12:58] The results of this study are important because they suggest that the increase in donations seen at year end may not be because that’s when donors are motivated to give the most.
⦿ [13:29] After reading this article, I had three main takeaways. First, based on the results of this study, Giving Tuesday is poorly timed.
⦿ [14:05] Second, many nonprofits put all their eggs in one basket- they put all of their fundraising effort and budget towards year end giving campaigns expecting that big pay off. But, maybe we’re just scratching the surface.
⦿ [14:50] Finally, a third takeaway from this study is that year end is not the best time to engage donors. You don’t want to just get a donation and end the relationship right there. Engaging donors and building a relationship ensures that your donor community will grow.
⦿ [15:43] I don’t expect you to listen to this podcast episode and upend your entire development plan. But, I have a simple process that can help you dip a toe into the water and determine whether making changes is right for your nonprofit.
⦿ [16:36] In this case, your experiment would be to run two appeals- your year-end campaign and again during the summer months.

Click here to listen!

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Links mentioned in this episode:

⦿ Article: Too cold for warm glow? Christmas-season effects in charitable giving
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