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How Many Year-End Giving Emails Should I Send?

5 min read
November 16, 2022
Samantha Nyland
Enterprise Sales Consultant, Neon One
year-end giving communication

It’s crunch time. With 12% of all gifts made during the last few days of the year, fundraising emails are a powerful tool to encourage year-end generosity among your donors. But how many year-end giving emails should you send? And what’s most important to communicate to donors as the year comes to a close?

Emails are a valuable, low-cost option for organizations, and the number of emails sent is increasing year over year. It takes about 1,000 emails to obtain $36 for most organizations, though smaller nonprofits do see a higher average of $106 per 1,000 messages. 

Knowing how frequently to email your donors can be tricky, especially during the end of the year. We’ve got your back. We can put the debate to rest and give you the definitive answer to exactly how many year-end giving emails you should send, when you should send them, and what you need to say.

Thinking Through Your Year-End Communication Strategy

Before you get started with year-end giving email sends, it’s important to think through your strategy. Never rely on fundraising emails as the primary way you connect with donors. Instead, fold them into a larger strategy that involves many touch points.

First, we recommend that you employ a donor-focused communications strategy for your end-of-year fundraising campaign. If you haven’t, start planning for next year now by downloading our guide to annual funds.

Second, segment your year-end giving emails to provide personalization to each of the messages you’ll be crafting. Creating a donor-centered experience is vital for both immediate results and long-term retention. 

There are pros and cons to consider when appealing to individuals who have already given earlier in the year, but a general rule is to filter out donors who have donated in the last 30 to 60 days if those donors haven’t already received an impact update about how you used their gift. Asking for a gift from a GivingTuesday donor, for example, will be most appropriate if they already understand how their earlier donation will be used.

With that said, let’s dive in.

The Basics

When sending your end of the year appeals, there are a few key items that all emails need to include. Each of your year-end giving emails should include these items no matter what.

  • A great subject line. Drawing someone in with a great subject line is a vital first step in getting someone to open your year-end appeal. While that alone can’t get someone to donate, it can make or break your email open rates.
  • Donor-centric language. This is a drum we’ll continue to beat. If you make the message about yourself and not the donor, they will check out quickly and not click through. Count the number of times the words “you” or “your” appear in the fundraising email versus the words “we” or “our.” If you are talking more about yourself and not the donor’s role in making change, it’s time to make changes to your email copy.
  • An optimized donation experience. You can have the greatest email ever written that beats the highest click-through rates the world has ever seen, but if your donation page is terrible, it won’t matter—you’ll lose the donation. Make sure your donation page is optimized, otherwise all your hard work will be for nothing.

If your year-end giving emails follow these three tips, you’re already in good shape. Yet what about that definitive answer? How many fundraising emails should you send for your end of year appeal—and when should you send them?

Starting December 27, you should send three year-end giving emails. Sending three emails over five days will help you keep your organization at the forefront of your donors’ minds without being too repetitive. Aim to send all of these emails between 11am and 2pm.

What about the emails themselves? Here’s what to say to donors in your year-end giving emails.

Year-End Giving Email #1: The Hook

Send this email on December 27. This is the kickoff point for your end-of-year fundraising email appeals. It should set the stage for messaging, but frame it as a question to draw people into what you’re asking them to do with you.

Year-End Giving Email #2: The Line

Send this email on December 30. This should be your most detailed email. Use real numbers and evocative imagery to ensure there’s no question of the impact their donation will have or the loss that will occur if they don’t join you in your mission.

Year-End Giving Email #3: The Sinker

Send this email on December 31. It should be urgent and to the point. Invite the donor to help set major change in motion by making a donation. Keep it simple and focused on their role in creating impact. Tie revenue goals with mission goals.

Making It Your Own

Need some help getting started with your year-end giving emails? We created seven templates you can use, including a three-part email series that includes each of the essential emails mentioned above.

You can—and should—customize your appeals to fit your own year-end giving email strategy. You know your audience best, so make sure you’re creating a year-end fundraising email campaign that will resonate with them.

What year-end giving email strategies have you had success with? Let us know in the comments!

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