Charitable Donations Skyrocket on New Year's Eve—Because Tax Deductions

Or, why 'generous procrastinators dominate in December'
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Reuters

Since November, The Chronicle of Philanthropy has been tracking daily donations to over 14,000 charities that use the online-giving platform Network for Good. The graph below, which assembles daily totals from 2013 alongside equivalent figures for 2012 and 2011, shows how year-end online fundraising works these days.

People give at a steady low rate throughout most of November and early December, there's a slight uptick around Christmas, and then donations skyrocket on New Year's Eve—because tax deductions

Approximately 40,000 organizations process online donations through Network for Good, according to the Chronicle, but the graph only includes data from the 14,300 that have collected contributions through the platform for the past three consecutive years. 

The 2013 New Year's Eve numbers won't be incorporated until tomorrow, but 91 percent of non-profits polled by Charity Navigator said they expected to take in at least as much or more in donations as they did at this time last year. 

Zooming in on December, alone, notice that online giving this month has outpaced that of 2011 and 2012 every day until the 27th. Network for Good attributed the trend to media attention from Giving Tuesday—a nationwide campaign to promote charitable giving in advance of the holidays. 

Network for Good reports that approximately 30 percent of all the donations it processes come in during December, with 10 percent of the year's money changing hands between the 29th and 31st. 

The majority of donors surveyed in a 2011 year-end giving poll declined to single out tax benefits as a strong motivator for their charitable transactions in December. But what else explains the numbers showing that more people donate online in December than they do in the wake of a global disaster (the last figure in the chart below)?

The rising popularity of giving online versus sending cash and checks through the mail is very good for, as Network for Good calls them, "generous procrastinators." 

Here's an overview of digital giving in 2012:

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Svati Kirsten Narula is a former producer for TheAtlantic.com.

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