Thursday’s mid-year release of the Blackbaud Index shows overall charitable giving up 2.2% and online giving up 14% for the first six months of 2013.

More importantly, it should remind us all that now — today, or tomorrow at the latest — is the perfect time to get started planning for online year-end fundraising, tuning up your donation pages and learning more about best practices so you’re ready to act when December rolls around.

More on year-end preparation in a moment.

First, a look at overall fundraising trends for the first half of 2013 compared to last year.

  • As noted, overall charitable giving is up 2.2% compared to the first six months of 2012.
  • Online giving is up a substantial 14% over the first six months of 2012.

I talked to Steve MacLaughlin, the always-helpful head of Blackbaud’s Idea Lab, to get his take on significant revelations in this edition of the Index. He notes:

  • For every month since August 2012 the Index has remained consistently in positive territory. Quite a change from the erratic behavior witnessed through most of 2011 and the first half of 2012.
  • It’s beginning to appear that “new normal” may be low to middling, but consistent, single digit year-over year growth.
  • Anecdotally (not covered by the Index) Steve reports a similar rise in major gifts as the stock market continues to rise.

Now, on to preparing for Christmas in August.

Why start preparing now? Because if you use the slower summer months to get your online (and, offline) house in order, you’ll be in a far better position to cash in on the bonanza of December giving.

Here’s why. Regardless of which sector your organization operates in, by far the greatest proportion of online annual giving occurs in the month of December.

The difference in lift is substantial. Arts and culture organizations raise 20.6% of their annual online income in December compared to the next highest month (March) at 10.3%. The Societal Benefits/Advocacy sector raises 21.1% in December compared to the next highest month (September) at 11%. And on and on across the sectors.

Download Blackbaud’s full report for 2011 for a month-by-month, sector-by-sector view of the importance of timing.

As for December …

And here are some valuable resources to help you with your year-end checkup:

  • Sue Woodward’s Challenge provides a wealth of great suggestions and examples from Agitator readers. Pay attention also to the accompanying Comments. Clearly, the Agitator’s prescient readers understand the importance of getting their donation page act together.

Time is short. Prepare now. Only 141 shopping days until Christmas.

Roger

P.S. For Tom’s insights on the value of Agitator readers’ comments on donation pages, Why Not Raise More Money? is worth reading and heeding.

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