Many of us have a complicated relationship with the holiday season. For some people it’s the collision of family dynamics, travel stress, rampant consumerism, and winter weather. For others, it’s the time of year when we’re reminded of loved ones no longer with us, or the things we hoped but failed to accomplish in the past year. 

My friend James has disliked the holiday season as long as I’ve known him. He’s got his reasons.To counter the sadness, some years ago he decided to create his own holiday routine. On the same day each year, he sits down and does all his charitable giving, donating to the organizations whose causes he supports and whose recent work resonated with him.

Everyone on this list knows the value of the work nonprofits do. Every one of you knows, too, how much they rely upon charitable giving (including us). And I believe that every one of you, like James, has given to organizations you value and will continue to do so in the future. So this isn’t a fundraising plea—it’s a thank you.

On behalf of Idealware and the thousands of nonprofits with whom we have the great pleasure of working, I want to thank you for all that you do and for all that you give. None of us could do what we do without your support.

Whatever holidays you celebrate, and however you choose to celebrate them, I hope they bring you peace and health and happiness this year and every year.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions for this month’s roundup of links. As always, if you come across something you think would be a good fit for the Best of the Web, send it to me at


The Privacy Threat From Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo

I get made fun of for being the guy with black tape over his webcams and microphones, so this article, in which Jay Stanley addresses the reality of living with internet connected devices that may or may not be eavesdropping on us. The article is from earlier in the year, but with so many connected devices given as holiday gifts, it seemed timely. (If you really want a scare, read Walter Kirn’s 2015 article for The Atlantic, If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy.)

How Email Open Tracking Quietly Took Over the Web

Your broadcast email tool can do a lot more than just tell you who opened your email, and so can those employed by the people who send you email, teaching them a lot about your online behavior outside of your inbox habits. In this article, Brian Merchant takes an interesting look at how far our ability to track emails has come, and what that means in the big picture for privacy.

To Make Fundraising Appeals More Appealing, Mother Jones Turns Them Into Stories Readers Want to Read

“Conventional fundraising wisdom is that you’ve got a couple of seconds to reach people and get them to do what you want them to do,” Shan Wang writes, “and here we are writing 2,500-word appeals.” This article has a lot of relevance for nonprofits, especially now, in the midst of annual campaign season.

Find the Hidden Stats on Your Social Media Audiences

“Like most people, public speaking makes me a little nervous. And I would be terrified at the idea of putting on a blindfold before stepping out in front of a crowd to speak, with no idea who’s in the audience. And yet, think of how easy it is to blithely post on social media with no clue who’s listening, or how they’re reacting.” In this insightful post, Anna Bukowski talks about how to break that habit and discover who your audience is—and how to reach them better.

Fundraising Letters: 7 Free Examples to Successfully Ask for Donations

With these free templates, Fundly gets you started down the road to successful fundraising. Begin with these examples, personalize them for your organization and your cause, and start connecting with your constituents.

Improve Year-End Giving by Optimizing Your Website Donation Pages

In this insightful post, Dawn Stoner talks about how to better position your nonprofit for successful year-end giving—“especially in this sluggish economy, when donors are likely to be more selective than ever with their contributions.”

Google Analytics Releasing Four New Functions to Offer More User-Centric Insights

According to Susan Wenograd, “Brands are working hard to meet a resounding customer demand for an experience that is relevant and personal to where they are in their engagement with brands. Ninety percent of marketers say understanding how users engage across channels and devices is vital to success.” In this article, she looks at the four new features Google is incorporating into its Analytics offering to better measure the customer journey.