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Best practices for crafting engaging end-of-year email appeals

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Ever felt the end-of-year hustle, like a marathon runner pushing through that last mile? It's an intense rush, isn't it?

In the nonprofit world, this feeling is all too familiar. As December rolls in and the year draws to a close, organizations gear up for their most crucial fundraising phase - the end-of-year email appeals.

But how do you ensure your appeal stands out amidst overflowing inboxes? No worries – we've got your back! Let's dive into some actionable tips for creating end-of-year emails that truly resonate with your audience.

‘Tis the season to send end-of-year emails!

The holiday season holds a special place in the hearts of nonprofits.

Did you know that over 30% of annual giving happens in December, with a whopping 10% in the last three days of the year?

over 30% of annual giving occurs in December and 10% of annual giving occurs in the last 3 days of the year.
-NP Source

This means November and December are the prime months to rev up your year-end fundraising efforts.

The power of email appeals in year-end fundraising

Email appeals play a crucial role in year-end fundraising campaigns. A well-crafted email strategy can be the key to achieving your nonprofit's year-end goals.

A three-email approach is particularly effective for end-of-year email appeals. That's right, sending out not one or two but three emails can significantly boost response rates. It works because it keeps your cause at the top of donors' minds during this busy season without overwhelming them with messages.

Apart from quantity, quality matters too. Your year-end email campaigns should be thoughtfully crafted and compelling enough to prompt action from your supporters. Don't forget about mobile devices either - ensure that all communications are mobile responsive as more people check their emails on smaller screens these days.

If executed properly, an impactful email campaign has the power to make a big difference in reaching your fundraising targets and engaging with potential donors like never before.

Nonprofit End of Year Email Statistics
Nonprofit Email Statistics-Double The Donation

Why send an end-of-year fundraising email?

You know you’re supposed to send out an end-of-year email appeal. But why are you sending one out and what are you hoping to accomplish?

When you stop to ask “why” you’re reaching out to your donors, you give yourself the time to consider:

  • What language would best resonate with your constituents
  • What channels of communication work best
  • The best call-to-action (CTA) to engage your donors

If you’re hoping to solicit a major gift an email might not land how you hoped. Likewise, text messaging might engage more donors in a back-and-forth conversation than email, but it doesn’t work as well as email when it comes to storytelling.

By assessing your “why,” you set yourself up to successfully engage your donors with an end-of-year email appeal that resonates.

Crafting an effective year-end appeal letter

A successful year-end appeal is about more than asking for donations. It's an opportunity to tell the stories of your nonprofit and the communities it serves. This is a chance to engage your constituents, celebrate what has been accomplished by your nonprofit over the past year, and cast the vision for the year ahead.

Understand your donor base

A compelling email appeal starts with understanding your donor base. Think about what motivates them to support your cause. Is it the impact they can make? Or perhaps it’s the stories of those you've helped?

Incorporate these insights into your year-end appeal letter. Use emotional storytelling that makes donors feel part of something bigger than themselves - not merely sources of funds but as partners in making real change possible.

Personalize end-of-year email appeals

Another critical aspect is personalization. Personalized letters have higher response rates because people want to be recognized for their past contributions. Donor Outreach platforms that include personalization tags make it easy for your nonprofit to personalize your end-of-year appeals.

When you segment your constituents based on their giving during the past year, you can even include a thank you to those donors who have contributed already this year. A simple thank you goes a long way in building relationships with supporters, so don't forget this important gesture.

Use an engaging email subject line

The subject line of an email often determines whether it gets opened or ignored altogether. An engaging subject line is a hook that invites donors in and compels them to open your message. Keep email subject lines short and engaging, so you don’t lose potential readers at first glance.

The key here is creating intrigue without being misleading. For instance, an email with the subject "How You Helped Change Lives This Year" gives supporters a glimpse of what's inside - their impact - but leaves enough curiosity for them to want more details.

Your email copy should continue where your compelling subject left off, ensuring consistency and authenticity. If you've promised stories about lives changed because of donor support in the headline, then those tales need to be front and center when they click through. Using an email subject line tester can help you test different headline ideas to see if they are compelling.

Engaging subjects increases open rates significantly. But remember, every supporter group responds differently. It’s crucial to experiment with different styles until you find what works best for your audience.

Brevity matters. Shorter subjects are easier on eyes scanning crowded inboxes on mobile devices or smaller screens.

Engage with clear messaging

Make sure your goals and mission are crystal clear. When it comes to giving, donors highly value transparency and a nonprofit they can trust.

Your donors want to know how their contribution will do good in their community and further causes they care about. Be specific and transparent about your year-end goals. Share openly about what you’ve already accomplished, and lay the groundwork for what you plan in the year ahead.

Link directly to your online giving page

An effective year-end email appeal not only captivates your audience but also leads them directly to the action you want them to take. So, how do you achieve this? It's simple: link your appeal directly to your online giving campaign page.

This simplifies the donation process for potential donors. They don't need to hunt around on your website looking for where and how they can contribute – all they have to do is click.

Invite potential donors to take action by providing a distinct and straightforward call-to-action (CTA). This should be visually distinct, easy-to-find, and uncomplicated - ideally just one click away from their gift being made. Use phrases like "Donate Now" or "Join Our Cause Today".

Make sure that any links are mobile responsive since many people will read emails on their phones or other mobile devices.

Check out this guide to optimize your donation page!

Personalize outreach for better engagement

Creating a positive sentiment in your donors about their donation is an important part of successful fundraising. And, a one size fits all approach is not the best way to reach out to your donors.

Personalization can lead to better engagement. It grabs the reader's attention and makes them feel seen and valued.

How do you craft a personalized year-end appeal experience?

Segmentation is your best friend

Rather than taking the easy route of sending a mass email to all donors, it is more effective to segment donor communication lists and send targeted messages that are tailored to each group's preferences and behaviors.

The secret sauce lies in segmenting donor communication lists. By grouping donors based on their preferences and behaviors, you can send targeted messages that resonate more deeply.

Segment based on communication preferences

For instance, if you have a group of supporters who consistently respond to direct mail appeals but rarely open emails, wouldn't it make sense to focus your snail-mail efforts on them? Or what about those tech-savvy donors who prefer interacting via social media or mobile devices?

This approach isn’t just good for engagement—it also respects each supporter’s preferred method of communication. So how do we start with this segmentation?

Personalize based on gift information

Segment your end-of-year emails based on your donors’ giving history. For example, you want to avoid sending requests for donations to those who have already given in the current month. Additionally, a report showing who gave last year but not this year can be beneficial in segmenting and communicating with these donors. Those donors may benefit from a "We miss you" email in order to re-engage them.

Add that personal touch

Next up is crafting messages that resonate on a personal level. Don't be afraid to address recipients by name or mention previous donations they've made—these small details make a big difference. By showing that you remember them and appreciate their support, it fosters stronger connections between your nonprofit organization and its supporters.

Email Example with Statistics
Email Example

This approach makes supporters feel valued as individuals rather than just another name on an email list. For instance, acknowledging the milestone of a first donation can encourage further giving. Recognizing regular givers boosts loyalty even more.

Data shows personalized messaging increases engagement rates by up to 14% and conversions by 10%.

But how do you keep track of all the data your nonprofit needs to track, so you can send out personalized end-of-year email appeals?

That's where a nonprofit CRM comes into play!

Level up your end-of-year email appeals with a nonprofit CRM

The key to building lasting relationships with your donors lies in personalization and segmentation. That's where donor Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms come into play.

DonorDock Reporting for Year End Appeals

A reliable nonprofit CRM helps you sort through these details effortlessly by categorizing your contacts into different segments based on their donation history, involvement level, and contact data. It gives you room to craft tailored content that is sure to engage each segment.

DonorDock, a CRM designed for small nonprofits, helps you understand and engage your donors better. DonorDock makes pulling reports easy, so your nonprofit has a clear picture of who your donors are.

Easily segment and filter donors, so you can send them personalized emails or letter appeals directly from DonorDock! And, save time with end-of-year email templates that are ready to be customized for your nonprofit’s unique needs.


Now you know why December is the fundraising hotbed. The year-end hustle can be intense, but with our insights, crafting a compelling end-of-year email appeal doesn't have to be daunting.

  • Know your why
  • Personalize your outreach emails
  • Pique curiosity with engaging subject lines
  • Clearly define your messaging
  • link your emails directly to a giving campaign page for easy access.

Leverage technology like donor CRM platforms to segment and personalize communication further. Remember, segmentation isn't just useful; it's crucial.

Are you using a donor development platform that fits your needs and serves up actionable steps to help you cultivate better donor relationships?

Nurture your donor relationships with DonorDock. An easy-to-use Donor Management Platform built for nonprofits like yours.

End-of-year email appeal FAQs

How do you write a year-end appeal?

A good year-end appeal should tell your organization's story, demonstrate impact, and create urgency. Make it personal, thank the donor, and include a clear call-to-action.

How do I write a good email appeal?

To craft an effective email appeal, make sure to use compelling subject lines, personalize content for better engagement, and always link back to your giving campaign page.

How can I encourage end-of-year giving?

You can spur end-of-year donations by sending personalized emails highlighting the impact of past gifts while emphasizing the tax benefits of charitable contributions before year closeout.

What is the end-of-year appeal for fundraising?

The end-of-year fundraising push aims at capitalizing on donors' generosity during the holiday season, which sees over 30% of annual charitable donations happening in December alone.

Bridgette Bitzegaio
Training Manager
Written by
Bridgette Bitzegaio
Training Manager

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