Year-end fundraising is the best time of year to send fundraising emails. Nearly one third of all giving happens during the month of December. Is it the sparkly winter spirit that lifts hearts? The firm deadline of the tax year? The fact that nonprofits ask a lot more? Probably a combination of all three that drive this volume of giving.
With each passing year, more December giving happens through digital channels. Email continues to be a great digital direct response channel for nonprofits. But you can't trust any old emails to help your nonprofit leverage the giving potential of this month: timing and messaging matter. As you build your email calendar for December, here are 3 non-negotiable emails you've gotta include in your plans.
Giving Tuesday Email
Giving Tuesday is a topic fundraisers often seem divided on. Some say it’s all hype. Others tell you that it’s a must-do giving day. I'm of the opinion that it’s good to participate in it while managing your organization’s expectations about the results. I encourage my clients to send at least one email on Giving Tuesday, and here's why...
First, there’s a big built-in PR campaign around Giving Tuesday that does a lot of the work of informing donors and non-donors alike about what’s going on. While you still will want to create a game plan for pre Giving Tuesday communication, you may find that it requires less persuasive work than you have to do for other campaigns.
Second, many donors are ready to give on Giving Tuesday; they're just waiting for the ask. This is low-hanging fundraising fruit that an email can help you capture.
One tactic you can incorporate into your Giving Tuesday is email is to try a different kind of ask. Here’s a snippet of the Sunrise Movement’s Giving Tuesday email in 2019.
Today is Giving Tuesday, and you’re probably getting dozens of emails from organizations raising money this December season -- and it’s true, Sunrise is trying to recruit 500 new monthly new donors today alone.
But as Sunrise’s Grassroots Fundraising Fellow, I’m coming to you with a different request: to join our end-of-year fundraising campaign not just as a donor, but as a fundraiser yourself.
At Sunrise, we see fundraising as not so different from the rest of our organizing: it’s about telling a powerful story about something you care about, and asking others to join. Some of us give time to the movement, some of us give money, and some give both -- but regardless, we ask for what we need and we give what we can.
Can you help us go big in 2020 by asking your friends and family to support Sunrise?
Leveraging the power of P2P on Giving Tuesday? Genius idea! It’s definitely an ask that caught my attention. Don't forget to remind your donors how social sharing/spreading the word is as important as a donation!
Vision for Next Year Email
This is one of my favorite fundraising emails to write in December. It serves a couple of important functions in fundraising: It reflects on your impact over the last year and casts an inspiring vision of what’s to come. And in 2020, during this year where so much has felt difficult and challenging, this kind of email can help you pivot your messaging from “crisis” to... some form of optimism.
Here’s an example from an email I wrote back in 2015.
2015 is coming to an end, but sexual assaults in our city are not. Today, we want to ask for your commitment to support women who have been sexually assaulted.
The unfortunate fact is that reported sexual assaults in Vancouver are not decreasing. In fact, an October 2015 report from the Vancouver Police Department showed that while violent crime is decreasing overall, sexual assaults in Vancouver have been steadily increasing since 2006.
As we work towards ending violence against women, one of the best things we can do is to keep supporting survivors of sexual assault. With your gift of $50, you will provide 1 hour of counselling to a woman who has been sexually assaulted.
If you’re going to talk about a problem, you want to make it clear that making a donation is one way for donors to feel empowered and part of the solution. The key sentence in this email is this one: "As we work towards ending violence against women, one of the best things we can do is to keep supporting survivors of sexual assault." This makes it clear that the organization imagines a community where women are free from violence and while they keep working toward that, supporting women through counseling is the best thing donors can do.
This email keeps the case for support and vision pretty simple, which will do you good in the long run. You never want to make your reader think too hard :)
Last Chance December 31 Email
December 31 is a fundraising goldmine for nonprofits. In fact, 12% of all annual giving occurs in the last three days of the year. It's the perfect time for you to email to donors who haven't yet made their 2020 gift with the message of the tax year deadline. While it might not seem like the most compelling message, never underestimate the power of a real deadline (and real money) to inspire action. Short, simple emails in the last few days of December work.
Outside the tax deadline, you may also want to consider sending one last email to 2020 donors to ask for an additional gift. This strategy is good from a donor retention perspective and helps you increase the lifetime value of donors.
Overall, email fundraising in December is a great way to take your campaign multi-channel, follow up with non-responders, and leverage the power of year-end seasonal giving. Remember that with each email you send in December, your organization should be strengthening the case for giving and turning up the urgency as you head towards the final few days of the month.