How News Organizations Can Prepare For End Of Year Giving

It is the time of gift-giving, and those advertising dollars help boost many publications back into the black. Both digital and conventional ad spending spike between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

How News Organizations Can Prepare For End Of Year Giving
Staff Design // Adriana Lacy Consulting
A version of this article first appeared in the Media Minds Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a week.

If there’s anyone who is extremely aware of the coming holiday season, it is the news media. The Thanksgiving holiday has been a money-making staple for news gatherers for many years.

It is the time of gift-giving, and those advertising dollars help boost many publications back into the black. Both digital and conventional ad spending spike between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

2023 Holiday Spending 

  • Retail Sales: $957.3 billion
  • Digital Advertising: $57 billion
  • Retail Advertising: $2 billion

Source: Statista

More than $71 million is spent on Black Friday advertising alone, according to Statista. No matter the news outlet, from newspapers to radio to TV to digital-only, selling those Black Friday ads is make-or-break.

However, the end of the year is also crucial to nonprofits. Though the holiday season is creeping ever larger, from October to January in some considerations, the month of December is the most critical for nonprofits, who raise about 26 percent of their revenue in January on average. 

What’s more, December is a crucial month for online revenue for nonprofits as well. With 17 to 31% of online revenue coming in during the last month of the year, it’s imperative that all nonprofits have a solid way for people to donate online in just a few clicks or taps on their device screen. 

Leveraging Social Media for Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday has been a fantastic boost for charity’s online contributions because of social media and a focus on digital fundraising.

When the news media and local nonprofits team up, they can maximize the community’s end-of-year giving for everyone. Let’s look at a couple of ways news organizations can lend a helping hand to nonprofits in their area for end-of-year giving! 

Prepare the Community for Giving Tuesday 

Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It has been in operation for over a decade and encourages global generosity in all its forms, from volunteering to monetary donations. Last year, the effort raised $3.1 billion for nonprofits in the United States; it’s clearly a powerful movement that is gaining momentum worldwide. 

News organizations should consider dedicating space to letting the community know how they can be a part of the movement, for example, how they can donate, where they can volunteer, and the areas of the greatest need in their communities. 

For example, a community newspaper could preview Giving Tuesday in the news section and provide a page for advertising space for the event. 

In the news article, the writer should focus on the impact the nonprofit organizations have had on the community at an individual level. For example, share the story of someone who was able to find work and affordable housing thanks to a local transitional shelter. Express the growing need at the local food pantry or soup kitchen. 

Local journalism outlets can also ask for contributions themselves on Giving Tuesday. The Local Media Association shared the story of one publication, the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, which encouraged readers to contribute to local journalism on Giving Tuesday. By giving plenty of notice in print and online, explaining the value of local journalism and the outstanding effort that went into their Pulitzer Prize-winning work, the newspaper was able to garner donations for its Public Service and Investigative Fund. 

The Post and Courier used attention-grabbing, clear calls to action with easy ways to donate. They were transparent about how much they hoped to raise and thanked their donors, which LMA listed among the best practices for encouraging such giving at the end of the year. 

Encourage Donations Across Platforms

For both nonprofits and news organizations, encouraging contributions in an omnichannel approach can help embrace the wide difference in generational preferences for donations. For example, older readers of a newspaper might prefer to write a check and send it through the mail. In contrast, younger, more tech-savvy philanthropists might prefer to set up a monthly donation through PayPal or another digital payment solution.  

Other End-of-Year Giving Prep Tips

  • Develop a compelling fundraising campaign that highlights the importance of independent journalism in keeping the public informed and supporting a healthy democracy. Share examples of how your reporting has made a difference.
  • Optimize your online presence by ensuring your website is user-friendly, and there are few obstacles between your readers and making a donation. Consider a prominent call to action. 
  • Provide incentives, such as exclusive content, merchandise, or recognition for larger contributions, and collaborate with local businesses to provide discounts, coupons, or perks for donors. 
  • Be transparent about how donations will be used to support your organization’s mission; provide financial updates on the impact of previous donations to build trust with your audience. 
  • Leverage matching gifts through partnerships with donors or businesses willing to offer matching gifts during the giving season, which can encourage larger donations. 
  • Reach out personally to major donors or supporters who have a history of contributing to your organization. Consider virtual meetings or personalized outreach to express your gratitude and discuss the impact of their potential contribution. 
  • Develop a plan to express gratitude to your donors, whether through personalized thank-you emails, social media shout-outs, or acknowledgment in your publications or as a sponsor. 

Between Black Friday and Giving Tuesday, the end of November is a hectic time for the news media, but planning ahead and implementing thoughtful strategies can help these organizations better position themselves to secure the financial support needed to continue their important work. 

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