The holiday season moves through many different phases as we carve turkey, wrap presents, and watch the ball drop. So your year-end email appeals should also reflect the transition donors experience from Giving Tuesday through the last day of the year.
With the season already underway, it’s time to consider what last-minute tactics your organization can incorporate into your year-end strategy. When an estimated 30 percent of annual giving takes place in the month of December, your email communications are more important than ever. An effective mix of email messaging will ensure your organization remains top of mind and secures as many donations as possible during this pivotal giving season.
The focus of year-end emails should be on the donor. Language such as, “thank you,” “without you,” and “because of you,” serve to center the email on the actions of the donor and connect them directly to the outcomes of your work.
While the focus of all communication should be on the donor, the message in each should vary and present the reader with new information and opportunities. Your goal should be to send a mix of communications that highlight different initiatives, which will, in turn, increase your chances for resonating with more of your supporters.
To help inspire your communications, we’ve collected seven examples that place emphasis on different elements of fundraising.
1. Give Thanks
Start the season off with softer messaging that puts the donor in the spotlight. November is a perfect time to remind your donors how thankful you are to have their support. You can also mention what you have been able to achieve thus far with their help, and mention your goals for what you hope to achieve by the end of the year.
Here, buildOn shows their thanks in a Thanksgiving message to their supporters. Within the email they mention their success to date and connect it to the donor’s support.
2. Highlight a Matching Grant
Landing a matching grant is a great way to entice donors to give. It’s common to feel a little strapped for cash during the holiday shopping season. A matching grant has the power to make a donor feel like their contribution, no matter how small, really has an opportunity to make a difference.
Here, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), embraces the holidays with their winter-themed design. Their color scheme does a great job of combining the colors of two major holidays – Christmas and Hanukkah. They also use their matching grant to urge the donor to contribute right away, by highlighting that the grant will only be secured if their goal for personal gifts is met.
3. Suggest Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Ask your donors to fundraise on behalf of your organization to provide them with a meaningful opportunity to give back. Highlight how fundraising for your cause has the power to be exponentially more impactful than a single donation. You can also acknowledge the high cost of the season and mention that if someone feels unable to financially contribute at this time, becoming a fundraiser is an alternative way to show support for your organization.
Here, Liberty in North Korea uses this email to share their fall campaign, #PeopleCan. In this email they call their supporters to act as fundraisers. They also present the option to raise funds for four different campaigns and go on to show how peer-to-peer fundraisers can make a difference for each.
4. Get pumped for #GivingTuesday
Last year, #GivingTuesday raised over $45.7 million and this year promises to be the global giving holiday’s best year yet. Send supporters a shout-out about how your organization is getting involved and let them know the best way to support you come December 1.
Here, MAZON, asks friends of their organization to mark their calendars ahead of time to prepare for #GivingTuesday. They also highlight how their fundraising platform is waiving fees on #GivingTuesday as a way to differentiate this day from giving on any other day of the year.
5. Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly
We often spoil ourselves and our family members during this time of year. You can use your email appeals to pull at the heartstrings of supporters as they shower their loved ones with gifts. Show how their support could change lives and improve someone’s holiday. While you may feel as though you’re bombarding donors with appeals, remember that donors are accustomed to being asked this time of the year and expect you to reach out to remind them to contribute.
Here, charity: water lets their supporters know that the most meaningful gift they can give this season is a gift that has the power to truly change someone’s life: the gift of clean water. Their design also does a great job of incorporating a holiday theme while still focusing on their organization and cause.
6. Ask for a Recurring Gift
While it’s easy to live in the short term and push towards a quickly approaching goal, it pays to think long term. When you mention your recurring giving program in your communications the message has the power to impact your organization beyond the end of the year.
Calling their monthly donors the Support Squad, Team Rubicon launched their recurring giving program in March of 2017. They sent out the email below to their volunteers, the Greyshirts, with a three-fold message: a personalized thank you, the announcement of the monthly giving program, and an invitation to ask friends and family members to join the Support Squad.
7. Create a Sense of Urgency
Ten percent of annual giving occurs in the last three days of December. Remind your supporters that this is their last chance to make a tax-deductible donation. As the close of the year approaches, it’s important to reach out to donors more than once. We recommend sending three emails in the last week of December before the last day, and to send 2 to 3 emails the final day for one last push.
Here, SODDO Christian Hospital lets donors know there is still time to contribute and save lives in Ethiopia. They also highlight that receipts will be emailed immediately following the donation, keeping the convenience of the donor in mind.
To avoid sending donors every single one of the examples above, target donors most likely to respond to each type of messaging. Use data to segment your list. For example, donors who have donated more than once in the last year are great targets for a year-end email that mentions your recurring giving program.
When you diversify your asks during the holidays, your organization has the potential to engage with each of your donors in a more meaningful way. Make this the best holiday season yet and commit to targeted messaging in your email communications. To get started, check out Classy’s Giving Tuesday Resource Center where you can find more than 50 guides, templates, checklists and more to prepare your nonprofit for Giving Tuesday.
Do you have a year-end email example to share with us? We’d love to hear about your messaging strategies in the comments below.