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.
To see recent year-end fundraising email performance data from 1,495 nonprofit organizations, plus other insights and tips to make your end-of-year emails the best they can be, check out The Nonprofit Email Report: Data-Backed Insights for GivingTuesday and Year-End.
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 only way you connect with donors. Instead, fold them into a larger strategy that involves many touch points.
First, we recommend employing 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 personalize each message 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.
When sending your end-of-year appeals, there are a few key items that all nonprofit 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 strong subject line is a vital first step in getting someone to open your year-end appeal. While subject lines alone can’t get someone to donate, they 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 your organization and not the donor’s role in making change, it’s time to update 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. Ensure 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. But what about that definitive answer we mentioned? How many fundraising emails should you send for your end-of-year appeal—and when should you send them?
Starting December 27, send one to two year-end giving emails. If you need a last-minute push to meet your goal, you can also consider sending a third! Sending these emails over five days will help keep your organization at the forefront of your donors’ minds without being too repetitive.
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 between December 27 and December 29. This is the kickoff point for your end-of-year fundraising email appeals. It should set the stage for your campaign messaging, but frame it as a question to draw people into what you’re asking them to do. For example, you’d write something like: “Did you know that 1 in 6 children under 5 live in poverty? Let’s change that.”
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. A line like, “In 2023, because of your generosity, we provided meals to over 1,500 families in our community. A $50 gift today helps make sure no family and no child is hungry this year.”
Optional 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 a 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.
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