We know that online giving is growing and that end-of-year donations are a big part of that giving. But, when does “end of year” begin and what does that mean for you?

October, November and December combined bring in most online donations; however, September has become noteworthy. In 2011, 34.8% of online giving happened in October through December according to Blackbaud’s 2011 Online Giving Report.  December alone brought in 20.3% of 2011’s online giving. What you may find surprising is that September was 2011’s second largest online giving month with 8.8%, beating both October (7.7%) and November (6.8%).

The nonprofit sector is also seeing the end-of-year season expanding beyond December and into January, with January carrying 5% of of online giving according to the same study. Is your non-profit seeing the same trend?

With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.  By entering search queries related to your nonprofit into the tool, you can get an exact of idea of when and how much people are searching.

Let’s take a look at an example. We wanted to see how search volume for the term ‘homeless shelters’ changes throughout the year. In Google Insights for Search, we entered the term ‘homeless shelter’ and filtered for the United States between July 2011 and July 2012. The graph below shows that searches began to rise in September, peaked dramatically in December and then declined into January.

For more information on Google Insights for Search, check out this Google and Your Business tutorial to how the world is searching for terms related to your organization.

Join us next week as we share how you can target donors and optimize your existing AdWords campaigns to grow your gifts this season now that you know when to begin.

Posted by Katie Kellogg, Google for Nonprofits team