When is the best time of year to fundraise?

Historical trends show that nonprofits typically benefit from holiday cheer, as December and January are the months most highly associated with charitable giving. 

However, according to M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network's recent "2014 M+R Benchmark Study," December 2013 fundraising email conversion rates were below the yearly average. Specifically, the holiday month's click through was just 0.06 percent, or 0.01 percent lower than the overall rate. The importance of year-end campaigns is still high, but it seems as if the last-ditch efforts aren't yielding the same results they once were. 

Emails have been an effective tool over the years because more nonprofits now have the capabilities to accept donations online. The effectiveness of direct email is still strong, but as it goes for most business propositions, timing is everything.

When's the best time to fundraise?
The holiday spirit is said to be contagious, and nonprofits have taken advantage of the giving mood in the past. M+R's study found that the volume of messages sent during December last year was significantly more than the next closest month. The average 6.9 emails sent during the year's final month  was nearly 188 percent higher than the average 2.9 that were sent in October. 

Clearly charitable organizations feel that a holiday fundraising push is still effective enough for their brand, but that's not to say a nonprofit should completely abandon other months when it comes to collecting donations. Just because benefactors may be more likely to give around the winter holidays doesn't mean that they're not just as willing to donate weeks or months after the fact. 

Every charity will likely know when the best time of year is to accept online donations for their purposes. Campaigns typically align with your event schedule, but there are other times of the year that bode well for nonprofits looking to raise extra revenue for their cause. For example, most holidays provide a good marketing platform for charities to build off of during a campaign. Mother's Day and Father's Day, and more patriotic celebrations such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day are times of the year where people aren't working and may be inclined to give, npENGAGE suggests.

For those who are looking to delve deeper into the special occasions, there are other days of the year that could benefit a charity's fundraising efforts. Earth Day and Arbor Day would be a great promotional opportunity for an organization that promotes clean energy usage or recycling, for example. More specifically, a local humane society might promote "Love Your Pet Day" on Feb. 20 - which also coincides with Responsible Pet Owners Month, according to the International Business Times. Even if the reason for fundraising is quirky, a nonprofit is doing itself a favor by aligning its goals with a nationally or internationally recognized day of celebration.

Winter holiday donation campaigns are still important and effective, especially if they're used in conjunction with various online fundraising tools. Nonprofits can extend their efforts by asking for donations on smaller holidays throughout the year as well.

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