6 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays

For many nonprofits, the holidays are when they receive the bulk of their donations for the year, and email marketing is one of the main drivers of giving. So, to help you excel at fundraising this holiday season, here are some tips for email marketing:

1. Send multi-part appeals

Sometimes organizations are too shy or don’t want to “offend” donors by appealing more than once. However, very often donors have intend to give but the original appeal ends up at the bottom of the list. A way to keep this from happening and keeping your organization top of mind is to send appeals in a series. Sending out requests and stewardship material multiple times within a particular appeal helps remind donors to make their year-end gift to your organization.

2. Segment your list

Donors who just gave to you should not be treated the same way as lapsed donors who perhaps have not given to your organization in a year, or two or even more. Demonstrate to donors that you are aware of what they are doing and when: segment your donor and prospect list in a way that enables you to have a more personalized approach to your appeals. We have the tools to do this here.

3. Be mindful of your subject line

Make sure your subject line is something that aligns well with the content of the emails being sent. You want to have a subject line that elicits a response of wanting to open and read your email message, but you always want to make sure it is true to the message. In addition, it is important to be aware of the length of your subject line. The best subject lines tend to be short, as well as descriptive. And finally, try not to use the recipients name in the subject line or the words “help” or “free” as they tend to trigger spam filters.

4. Build your email list

Always make sure your email messages work well if your recipient forwards it to a friend. People are much more likely to open an email coming from someone they know and during the holiday season, some donors ask their family and friends to support a charity they care about rather than provide them with gifts. Additionally, in your copy you can always seek to have your messages be viral by directly asking recipients to forward the appeal or message to people they know.

5. Test your emails

Make certain to test out your email messages before you send them out to your constituents. Perform message tests to see if emails are getting through, and also make sure your content is being presented well in different email clients (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook, Mac Mail). Click all the links in your message during your testing to ensure the work properly.

6. Create urgency

Since the holiday season is likely a critical time of year for fundraising for your organization, it is important to create urgency. Explain to donors what their support has done during the course of the year and what more can be done with their continued help. As the emails get closer to the end of the year, steadily increase the sense of urgency. Remind donors about the potential tax deduction for their gift. Tax deductions occur in the year the gift is given. So, credit cards, for example, need to be charged within the same tax year of the donation in order to receive a tax deduction.

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