Holiday Donations

By Lydia “Pony” Ortiz*

holiday-donationsCharitable giving is alive and well in America.

It is the cord that connects us, rich or poor. Criticized by much of the world for being a society that focuses on material gain, our custom of giving, not just during the holidays but, all year long, is the best of us. Americans have kept on giving in spite of adversity. Even in the face of overall declining wealth, individuals do what they can. Giving to those less fortunate during the Holidays is the greatest of American traditions.

According to The Charity Navigator, non-profit organizations throughout the country raise 30-40% of their annual income during the last few weeks of the year, and the average person makes 24% of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. For most individuals their gift to charity is a holiday tradition for others, mostly wealthy and corporate entities there is a fiscal agenda. Network for Good processes 10% of annual donations in the last two days of the year. Our capitalist leanings creep into the picture but regardless of intention the combined forces of tax deductions and altruistic holiday spirit benefit all manner of non-profit interests. Non-profits ramp up for the traditional beginning of holiday fundraising, which begins the Monday after Thanksgiving Day. The date is now referred to as “cyber” Monday. It is imperative that they get people interested and talking about their cause. The appeal must be a concise message that establishes the need for a donor’s money and a clear picture of how the money will impact their particular cause.

The breakdown of which types of charities come out on top can vary from year to year, time of year and are impacted by recent events. This year the Charity Navigator has forecasted human services as taking 62% of holiday donations, which has everything to do with the current global recession. Wealthier households that said they would give online were more likely to support health charities while individuals with fewer charitable funds often donate to local food banks, animal welfare agencies and religious organizations. Forbes’ report on the most generous corporations indicates a trend of giving to global agencies and running with those that demonstrate the most likelihood of success.

After choosing a cause there are other variables that help determine how donors decide which charities can best serve that cause. No matter how big or small, no one wants their donation to go to waste. A majority of donors, 87% according to the Charity Navigator, said that accountability and transparency were important, 56% were concerned about CEO’s salaries and 91% agreed that financial health was an issue. There are countless websites that help to guide donors by making this information public.

Is your website ready for the holidays?

Lydia “Pony” Ortiz is a member of the We Write the Grants team.
* This article was updated from the November, 2012 version.
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