What percentage of giving occurs around the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year's?
The Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy (COP) found that households reported that 24% of giving occurred
during this period. (See 2007(?) American Express survey on charitable giving.)
Although not directly comparable, Guidestar's 2007 and 2008 organization surveys lead to somewhat higher estimates:
"In both 2007 and 2008, nearly half (46 percent) of the participants said that their organizations receive the
majority of contributions during the last quarter of the year, the period known as the giving season."
A few "back of the envelope" comparisons
Assuming that the remainder of the organizations -- 54% -- see no difference in giving levels from month to month,
they would recieve 25% (one-quarter) of their giving in the last quarter. Assuming that the size of those with
heavy year-end giving is approximately the same as for the "even donation" group, then it appears that AT LEAST
37.5% of donations are received in the last quarter of the year -- Oct. 1 - Dec. 31.
Adjusting the time period for the COP survey to make it consistent with GuideStar's, we add 1.5 months of giving:
Since 76% of the average donations are received OUTSIDE the Thanksgiving-New Year's period, we will assume that
this is evenly distributed across the remaining 10.5 months. Thus, 7.2% of the total annual revenue is received in
an average non-holiday month, or approximately 11% for the Oct. 1 to mid-Nov. period. Thus, the 24% for COP for
the holiday period is increased to 35% for the last quarter of the year -- remarkably close to the 37.5% minimum
estimate based on Guidestar's survey.
OTHER KEYWORDS: Christmas, charitable contributions