Digital strategy, Fundraising

End-of-Year Giving 2022 Final Report: How Creativity, Technology and Innovation Helped Our Partners Defy the Odds and Raise More in a Challenging Year

Heading into December, nonprofits braced themselves to face a number of challenges: from increased inflation and talk of a looming recession, to holiday timing that shortened the week before Dec. 31, to the return to an in-person holiday rush, to ever-more-crowded email inboxes – the list goes on. 

Knowing this would be a difficult end-of-year, we at MissionWired doubled down on strategy to make sure our clients had every best practice, creative edge, and innovative strategy on hand to meet their goals. And thanks to those collaborations – and an incredible Giving Tuesday – nearly every organization we work with was up over 2021 when it came to fundraising revenue.

Year-over-year growth, for the nonprofits we partner with, means more resources to power their missions to prevent disease, respond to emergencies, end gun violence, stave off climate crisis, save vulnerable lives, and change the world for the better. 

And here’s a look at some of the data points we’ll use as benchmarks each year, to track growth and inform next year’s creative and strategic approaches:

The effort to get here, reaching goals and surpassing a strong 2021 year-end giving season, was massive – driven by the urgency of our partners’ missions, their compelling stories of impact, and the hopeful act a donor takes in believing in the power their contribution can have to drive change. We’re eager to take the learnings and trends below with us into the new year, and as you dive into plans for 2023, we hope they’ll help inform your strategy, too:

1. After a soft start, results ramped up in the final days of EOY.

One factor that fundraisers cannot control from one year to the next? The calendar, and where holidays fall within the week. This year, with Christmas observed on a Monday and the 31st falling on a Saturday, many organizations felt as if the year-end push was pressed into a smaller-than-usual window. Several of our nonprofit partners reported results that started off soft in the early days of the week, around Dec. 26 and 27, then ramped up in the final days of the year. This is a departure from last year, when we noticed that days outside of Giving Tuesday and Dec. 31 were accounting for an increasing share of overall revenue.

For organizations striving for year-over-year growth in a challenging fundraising environment, this meant a surge of content in the final days of the year, pulling out all the stops and employing every strategic best practice, from matches to celebrity signers to resends – all to come out of the year having met their goals.

Revenue by day:

Days during the end-of-year giving season with most revenue raised across our nonprofit partners, 2021 vs. 2022 (excluding Giving Tuesday and Dec. 31):


2. Resends got more eyes on appeals in crowded inboxes.

With such an escalation of results in what felt like a tight year-end week, a strategy that shined at Giving Tuesday became an essential tool for meeting goals at EOY: resending a top performer to the audience that didn’t open it the first time. Several organizations we partner with utilized resends to increase their email volume on the very last days of the year – for one organization, resends accounted for 24% of their revenue raised on Dec. 31. 

3. Paid Search saw another major surge – for the second year running.

Last year, our nonprofit partners were surprised to see paid search investments skyrocket in the final stretch of year-end, leaving the same organizations wondering if this was a trend that would repeat in 2022. Much to their relief, it did – investments in paid search paid off big-time again at end of year.

For one environmental organization, a 365% year-over-year increase in ads was largely thanks to their great results in paid search. For another, a $50,000 gift through paid search made a big difference in their end-of-year results. And a major international aid organization, who’d surpassed their fundraising goal by Christmas, increased their spend massively in the final days of the year to invest more in paid search, to great effect.

4. Compelling creative inspired action.

As we repeat, year after year: As email volume grows, nonprofits are competing not just with each other but with e-commerce organizations for attention in increasingly crowded inboxes. So that means the creative strategies that command attention and drive response and gifts continue to be critical to our partners’ success at meeting their goals and driving year-over-year growth.

Here are the tactics that broke through and drove the highest response this end of year:

Supporter Maps

For one of our nonprofit partners, a top-performing email shares a map of where people around the country are giving, paired with locations of need. When emphasized in end-of-year messaging, this strategy performed extremely well at driving revenue for their email program.

Headlines & Graphics

A trend that dominated at both Giving Tuesday and end of year for several of our partners: leading with eye-catching graphics, topped with a compelling headline. And one of our partners even saw a significant drop in results for any emails they sent without graphics – a useful insight reminding organizations whose missions offer the opportunity for compelling images to utilize them whenever possible in fundraising emails.

GIFs & Movement

Similar to immediate, eye-catching graphics, some of our partners found incorporating movement and GIFs into their end-of-year visuals drove a strong response.

Fwds: Results May Vary

While some environmental and humanitarian organizations found emails missing graphics, and emails that were forwards in particular, drove the lowest response rates, forwards were top performing emails for organizations in other verticals such as hospitals and health care, where a copy-forward creative approach can tend to resonate more with audiences. This range of results reminds us: In the biggest moments of the year, knowing your audience is key.

5. The Digital Co-Op connected missions with new donors.

For the organizations we partner with, a thoughtful acquisition strategy was a critical driver of year-over-year growth and meeting or surpassing the 2022 fundraising goals. For a small nonprofit partner and member of The Digital Co-Op, a pivot to investing in AdvantageAI for the majority of their acquisition strategy led them to raise 127% of their goal for year-end fundraising. 

For one member of The Digital Co-Op, a pivot to their acquisition strategy led them to raise 127% of their goal for year-end fundraising.

Another nonprofit partner that saw a 65% year-over-year increase in fundraising was driven by a strong final week of the year, largely thanks to first-time donors acquired from The Digital Co-Op. And a nonprofit testing The Digital Co-Op’s Reactivation Model at year end saw their investment break even within 10 days.

6. You guessed it: Email volume continues to rise.

In the least surprising of trends: Email volume continues to rise. We’re seeing the number of emails hitting inboxes, which has been climbing steadily over recent years, continue to rise, hitting an average of more than 40 emails per organization across our nonprofit partners. This mirrors our own ever-more-crowded inboxes, packed with more and more messages from e-commerce and nonprofit organizations alike as competition for attention this time of year continues to increase. 

7. SMS accounts for an increasing percentage of revenue raised in big moments.

Several organizations we partner with benefitted greatly from deploying SMS content between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, on Giving Tuesday, with one of our partners seeing an increase in revenue of more than 50% year-over-year from this growing channel. Another organization, relatively new to the channel, saw a 464% ROAS in SMS on Giving Tuesday, raising big-time through peer-to-peer text.


And that’s a wrap on the 2022 giving season! As always, there are too many insights and takeaways to fit just here, especially when you consider the stats on emerging platforms, website giving, and fixed-cost acquisition. But for now, thanks for reading along as we broke down 2022’s year-end in digital fundraising. Stay tuned for more reporting as we find new milestones and data to analyze!

Psst – in the meantime, have you signed up for our biweekly nonprofit newsletter, Recurring? Join the list now to get regular updates sent straight to your inbox! And if you want to have a one-on-one conversation with one of our expert strategists about data, tactics, or how we might be able to help you optimize your digital program – reach out at [email protected].

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