For Major Donors, November > December

“Most major donors make their giving decisions prior to December.”

That’s a powerful lesson that I learned the hard way. My background was mass donor fundraising; sending out millions of letters, and creating donor-acquition TV shows, and doing radio campaigns.

In that world, December is the most important month to focus on.

But when I started doing major donor fundraising I was taught two incredibly powerful things for major donor fundraising at this time of year:

  1. Know exactly which of your major donors have not given a gift yet during this year
  2. Ask those majors to give a gift no later than early November.

What I learned was that a large portion of major donors make their giving decisions before Thanksgiving. And there are lots of stories about major donor families meeting during Thanksgiving weekend to decide what organizations to support that year.

Not all majors are like this. But in my experience, enough of them are that soliciting your majors before Thanksgiving works better than after Thanksgiving.

For the majors that you are going to meet with and ask in person, aim for before thanksgiving. (Which means you should start setting up those meetings in October.) For the majors who you are sending a major donor proposal or mailing to, send it the first week of November.

Could you make a reminder call in December? Of course? If they haven’t given yet, should they still be included in your year-end direct mail and emails? Of course.

And remember:

For most organizations major donors provide between 80% and 90% of total revenue from individual donors.

This is important. This is worth your focus. It’s worth doing early.

tl;dr? For majors, November > December

And if you need help making a plan for your majors, check out our webinar. We created it expressly to help smaller organizations maximize their major donor revenue and relationships! It will walk you through the easy way to make a proven plan to get major gifts before the end of the year.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *