Here at Enthuse, we know that Christmas appeals and campaigns are a critical part of the year for most charities. Judging when to release campaigns and what times of the day are most appealing to the public is challenging at the best of times. The impact of the pandemic has made this even tougher to assess as the public’s giving habits have been shifting as lockdowns, working from home and then the easing of restrictions have taken effect. 

And even though there are now very few restrictions, that is no guarantee giving habits will return to the times and days seen in 2019. To help charities better understand how to get the most from their campaigns, we’ve collated our own Christmas giving data from the last two years to explore which weeks, days and even hours are likely to be the best donation periods throughout Christmas. 

The data has a particular focus on November through to January, and from the data it is clear that charities should be focusing on December as their key month for Christmas giving, as both November and January follow fairly regular giving patterns that we would expect to see most of the year round.

The UK is buying into Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a well established part of the US holiday season, linked together with Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Last year in the US it grew 25% from 2019 and saw a total of $2.47 billion donated. In the UK, it took place on December 1st in 2020 and raised £20.2 million – an increase of 43% from 2019. 

This rise in popularity is reflected in our Christmas Giving Insights report, which saw a clear increase in donations on the day, and points to Giving Tuesday beginning to establish itself as the start of the Christmas giving period here as it has done in the US. 

That said, it is worth noting that the rise in donations was purely on the day, so charities should factor this into their plans if they are getting involved this year. It’s also worth noting that the peak time for donations on Giving Tuesday was slightly later than other days in December. This may be down to early activity in the US on the day making it trend on social media from around 11am.

Chart depicts the % of donations made each day of December 2020

Where and when to focus your festive fundraising 

When thinking about wider Christmas campaign planning, the level of donations fluctuates throughout the month. The first two weeks are an ideal time to build awareness of your activities and appeals through a variety of content and media. When looking at this, even though Facebook leads the way for supporters spreading awareness of fundraising, there is plenty of activity on other platforms with Instagram and TikTok very popular with younger age groups, so think about experimenting with different platforms. 

Week three of December has been a peak donation period for the last two years, so charities should consider using this as a focus week, before the public gets too busy with the festive season. This is particularly important this year when people are likely to look to spend more time with friends and family after the tight restrictions of 2020. 

Focusing on the elements of campaigns that drive donations from mid-December will create the best opportunities to fundraise. Charities should also be planning for a final push in the last few days before Christmas when pay day has taken place, as the 20-24th December are always traditionally big donation days, whereas from the 25th onwards, donations drop rapidly. Though do bear in mind that the 20-24th December will be highly competitive so consider this when planning. 

When looking at the days of the week to focus efforts around – the optimal times to push your Christmas appeal messages are towards the end of the week, and avoid weekends. There may be less competition for donors earlier in the week, but the generosity of the public is far higher on Thursday and Friday than the rest of the week. 

The hours of the day to consider for targeted ads, organic posts and email marketing are not as clear cut. While December has traditionally seen peak donations in late morning, there has been a shift earlier throughout this year as more normal work patterns return, so it is worth thinking about whether your supporters and donors are likely to be back in the office before planning the finer details of campaigns. Testing and learning during the month to find the optimal donation time for your organisation will provide the most successful route. 

If you’d like to read more info to help you with your Christmas fundraising planning, then you can download our Christmas Giving Insights report here.