December is a month of hustle and bustle. From holiday parties to family gatherings, it’s easy to get caught up in the festive spirit and let other things fall by the wayside. But if you’re a fundraiser, December is also the most important time of year. This is when many people make their year-end charitable donations, so it’s crucial that you stay focused and make the most of this month.

One of the best ways to get more year-end gifts is by sending out well-crafted email appeals. But with so much going on, it can be tough to know how to make your emails stand out. Email is one of the best communication channels for your end-of-year appeals. Here are a few tips to help you write year-end emails that will get results for your successful year-end campaign.

1. Be Direct and to the Point

When writing your email, be as concise as possible. Get straight to the point and don’t try to be too clever or cute. Remember, people are busy this time of year and they don’t have time to wade through a lot of unnecessary fluff. So be sure to state your case clearly and directly.

Here’s a good outline for a year-end fundraising email:

  1. Grab the reader’s attention with a catchy opening line.
  2. Tell a story of someone who needs help. Be sure to include the paint point the person in the story is going through.
  3. Explain how the donor can help the situation.
  4. Include urgency to motivate the donor to give.
  5. Describe how the donation will be used to help someone.
  6. Call the donor to action – be direct with your call to action to your donation page.

Want to learn more about writing a great appeal? Click here.

The end of the year is a busy time for everyone, especially fundraisers. You are wrapping up your annual campaigns and preparing for the next one. As you write your year-end emails, keep in mind that your donors are busy too. They are juggling holiday parties, shopping, and family gatherings. Keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point.

2. Send Plain Text Emails

In almost every test I’ve ever run on plain text emails, they convert at a higher percentage when compared to graphics-heavy emails. As a fundraiser, you’re always looking for ways to improve your performance and increase donations. One way to do this is by using plain-text emails for your year-end campaigns. By ditching the flashy graphics and HTML, you can come across as more sincere and personal, which can lead to more donations.

Plain text emails are simple, straightforward, and easy to personalize. They are also highly effective; studies have shown that plain text emails have higher open and click-through rates than their HTML counterparts.

You can’t guarantee that HTML will render correctly. HTML is fundamentally flawed because different email clients render HTML differently. That means that even if your email looks great in one client, it might look like a hot mess in another. By sending a plain text email, you can be confident that your message will look the same regardless of which email client your recipient is using.

Plain text emails load faster. Because plain text emails contain no HTML code, they load much faster than their HTML counterparts. And we all know that people are impatient when it comes to waiting for things to load on the internet. So, by sending a plain text email, you’re giving your recipients the gift of time by ensuring that your email will load quickly.

Plain text emails are more personal. In this day and age of constant spam and promotional messages, sometimes it’s nice to receive a handwritten note from a friend or loved one. Sending a plain text email gives your message a personal touch that can be greatly appreciated by your recipients.

They’re easy to skim. Most people don’t have the time (or attention span) to read through long paragraphs of text. With plain text emails, though, recipients can quickly skim the email and get the gist of what it’s about without having to invest too much time or effort.

Plain text emails are more likely to be read on mobile devices. According to a study by Litmus, 52% of consumers say they prefer plain text emails because they are easier to read on mobile devices. Since more and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to check their email, it’s important to send messages that can be easily read on these smaller screens.

Spam filters like text emails. Spam filters are less likely to filter out plain text emails because there isn’t a lot of extra graphics, scripts, or formatting that is commonly used by spammers. You’ll improve deliverability with a plain text email.

When it comes down to it, plain text emails are simply more effective for year-end fundraising campaigns. If you want to ensure that your appeal reaches as many people as possible and results in donations, stick with a plain text email format.

3. Use a Match

A great way to increase the impact of your emails is to use a match. A match is when a donor pledges to match all donations made to your organization up to a certain amount. This can be a great way to boost donations and engage your donors. This works especially well to get new donors to a second gift.

Why Use a Match?

There are several reasons why you should use a match in your year-end fundraising emails. First, it can help you boost donations. When donors see that their donation will be matched, they are more likely to give. Second, it can help you engage your donors. Matches are a great way to get donors interested and engaged in your organization. Finally, it can help you build relationships with your donors. Donors who feel like they are part of a giving community are more likely to continue giving in the future.

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering using a match in your year-end emails. First, you’ll need to find a donor (or donors) who are willing to commit to the match. Second, you’ll need to make sure that you have a clear call-to-action in your email so that donors know how to take advantage of the match. And finally, you’ll need to track your progress so that you can report back to the donor (or donors) at the end of the campaign.

Finding a Donor (or Donors) for Your Match Campaign

The first step in using a match in your year-end emails is finding one or more donors who are willing to commit to the match. This might be an individual donor, a foundation, or even a corporation. Once you’ve found your donor (or donors), be sure to send them a personal thank-you note and include information about how their donation will be used. If you’re able to track progress throughout the campaign, be sure to keep them updated on your progress and how their donation is making an impact.

Including a Clear Call-To-Action

When you’re incorporating a match into your year-end email strategy, it’s important to include a clear call-to-action so that donors know what they need to do in order to take advantage of the match. For example, you might say something like “Every donation made before December 31st will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000.” Be sure to include all relevant information in your call-to-action so that there are no surprises later on.

Tracking Progress Throughout the Campaign

The final piece of the puzzle is tracking progress throughout the campaign so that you can report back to the donor (or donors) at the end of the campaign. This might mean keeping track of donations manually or using fundraising software like Bloomerang or DonorPerfect. Whichever method you choose, just be sure that you have a plan in place so that you can provide accurate updates on the status of the campaign.

Using a match in your year-end email strategy can be a great way to incentivize donors and increase the impact of their donation. When considering using a match, there are three things to keep in mind: finding one or more donors who are willing and able to commit to the match; including a clear call-to-action in your email; and tracking progress throughout the campaign so that you can provide accurate updates at the end of the campaign. If you’re able to effectively execute on all three of these fronts, using a match could be just what your year-end email strategy needs!

4. Vary Your Sender

One of the most important aspects of a successful email campaign is choosing the right sender. The wrong sender can result in low open and click-through rates, which can negate all your hard work in crafting the perfect email. So, how do you choose the right sender for your year-end email campaigns?

The first step is to segment your list into different groups based on factors like donor type, giving level, or past giving history. Once you’ve done that, you can start to think about which senders would be most appropriate for each group. For example, if you’re sending an email to your top donors, you might want to consider using a VIP or executive staff member as the sender. Alternatively, if you’re sending an update about your annual fund campaign to lapsed donors, you might want to use a student or program participant as the sender. The key is to match the type of email you’re sending with an appropriate sender.

In addition to segmenting your list, it’s also important to A/B test different sender options to see what works best for your audience. Try sending the same email with different senders to a small group of people and then compare the results. This will help you determine which sender yields the best results so that you can use that information to inform your future campaigns.

When it comes to email campaigns, choosing the right sender is crucial. The wrong sender can result in low open and click-through rates, which can negate all your hard work in crafting the perfect email. Segmenting your list and A/B testing different senders are both great ways to ensure that you’re using the best possible option for your year-end email campaigns. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your emails are opened and read by as many people as possible!

5. Tell a Great Story

Stories are a fundamental way that we as humans process information and connect with one another. They’re how we make sense of the world and our place in it. And when it comes to fundraising, stories are essential for engaging donors and inspiring them to give.

That’s why, as you’re planning your year-end fundraising emails, it’s critical that you take the time to craft a compelling story that will resonate with your audience. In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on how to do just that.

The Power of Storytelling in Fundraising

When it comes to fundraising, stories are essential for engaging donors and inspiring them to give. Stories provide context and demonstrate the impact of donations. They humanize the issue at hand and make donors feel like they are part of something bigger. Stories are vital to a successful year-end appeal letter. In short, stories have the power to capture hearts and minds—and that’s exactly what you need if you want your email campaign to be successful.

1. Talk to Your Program Staff and beneficiaries

Your program staff and beneficiaries are the people who see the day-to-day impact of your work. They’re also the ones who can tell you what’s working, what’s not, and why your programs are important. Talking to them is a great way to get ideas for stories that you can share in your year-end emails.

2. Use Data To illustrate Your Impact

Data is a powerful tool that can help you tell compelling stories about your work. When used effectively, data can help you illustrate the need for your programs and show how much progress you’ve made over time. But be careful not to overload your readers with too much information. A few key data points will do the trick.

3. Be Authentic and transparent

Your donors want to know that you’re being honest about the work you’re doing and the impact their gifts are having. So be sure to authenticity and transparency when sharing stories in your year-end emails. This will go a long way in building trust with your donors.

4. Start with a strong opening that hooks the reader in.

You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of your donor, so make sure your opening is strong. Try starting with a quote, an interesting statistic, or a powerful personal story.

5. Use emotion to connect with your donor.

Your email should make the donor feel something. Don’t be afraid to tug at their heartstrings or evoke positive emotions like hope, happiness, or pride.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to donor communications. By following these tips, you can craft engaging stories that will resonate with your readers and inspire them to give generously this holiday season.

6. Timing is Everything

When it comes to email marketing, timing is everything. You want to make sure you’re sending your emails at the right time to maximize your chances of getting donations. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best times to send out your year-end fundraising emails.

1. Plan ahead and be consistent

The best way to ensure your emails are well-timed is to plan ahead. By plotting out your email schedule in advance, you can make sure you’re being consistent with your send times and frequency. Consistency is key when it comes to email marketing, so make sure you’re sticking to a schedule that works for you and your subscribers.

2. Test, test, test

When it comes to email timing, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one organization may not work for another. That’s why it’s so important to test different send times and frequency levels to see what gets the best results for your organization. Trying out different tactics will help you find the sweet spot for your year-end email campaign. Effective testing can be key to email campaign success.

3. Keep an eye on the clock

With all the other things going on during the holiday season, it’s easy to lose track of time. But it’s important to keep an eye on the clock when it comes to your email campaign. Make sure you’re sending your emails at a time that’s convenient for your subscribers, and be mindful of any time zone differences. You don’t want your email getting lost in the shuffle because it was sent at an inconvenient time!

Timing is everything when it comes to year-end giving campaigns. By following these tips, you can make sure your emails are well-timed and have the greatest impact on your fundraising efforts.

7. Use Segmentation

Segmentation can be a helpful tool in crafting your year-end email strategy. By dividing your contact lists into groups based on factors like donor history or location, you can create more targeted, personal messages that are more likely to resonate with readers.

Why Segment Your Email List?

The first step in using segmentation to improve your year-end emails is understanding why segmentation is important. With a segmented list, you can send more targeted, relevant messages that appeal to the specific needs and interests of each group. This is opposed to sending one mass email appeal to your entire list, which can come across as impersonal and even provide too much information for some readers. When done correctly, segmentation can help you boost engagement rates, click-through rates, and even donations.

How to Segment Your Email List

There are a number of different ways you can segment your email list. Some common methods include dividing contacts by donor history, location, or giving level. You can also segment based on interest areas or communication preferences. Once you’ve decided how you want to segment your list, the next step is to actually divide up your contacts accordingly. For example, if you’re interested in segments based on donor history, you might put together a list of first-time donors, mid-level donors, and major donors.

Once you’ve created your segments, it’s time to start working on creating targeted content for each group. The key here is to think about what each group cares about and what type of message will resonate with them most. For example, first-time donors might be interested in learning more about your organization and how their donation will be used. Mid-level donors might appreciate hearing stories about how their previous gifts have made an impact. Major donors might want updates on specific programs or initiatives they’ve funded in the past. By considering the needs and interests of each group, you can create messages that will speak directly to them and encourage them to take action.

As we head into the final months of the year, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your year-end fundraising strategy—and segmentation can play a big role in that strategy. By dividing your contact list into groups based on factors like donor history or communication preferences, you can create more targeted messages that are more likely to resonate with readers. When done correctly, segmentation can help you boost engagement rates and even donations.

8. Personalize Emails

Year-end email campaigns are a great way to boost your fundraising efforts and make sure you reach your goals. But with so many emails going out, it can be tough to make yours stand out from the rest. That’s where personalization comes in. By adding a personal touch to your email appeals, you can ensure that your message stands out and speaks to your donors on a more individual level. Here’s how to do it.

Personalization can take many different forms, but in general, it means making your email feel like it was written specifically for the person who is reading it. There are a few different ways you can do this:

Add personal touches to your emails. If you have the donor’s name, be sure to use it in the email so they feel like you’re speaking directly to them. You can also include information about their past giving history or how their donation has helped in the past. These personal touches will go a long way in making your donors feel appreciated and valued, which will encourage them to give again. Use the donor’s name in the subject line and throughout the body of the email. This will help the donor feel like they are part of your community and that you value their support.

Make use of personalization fields. These are simply placeholders for donor information (like first name, last name, city, etc.) that will be automatically populated when the email is sent. This adds an extra level of personalization that is sure to impress your donors. Tailor content based on past interactions with your organization (e.g., donor history, event attendance, etc.).  Segment your list based on interests or affinities and sending targeted messages to those groups.

Personalized emails are a great way to boost your year-end fundraising efforts. By segmenting your list and adding personal touches, you can create emails that are more likely to resonate with each donor and encourage them to give.

9. Send a Hug Letter

Sending a hug letter to your donors is one of the best ways to show your appreciation for their generosity. A hug letter is a personal letter that expresses your gratitude for the donor’s support. It’s an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with the donor and to let them know how their gift is making a difference. This is simply a “thank you” letter – it does not include an ask, though many organizations include an envelope and response device. Here’s why to write and send a hug letter to your donors.

1. It Builds Donor Relationships

Saying “thank you” is a key part of building and maintaining strong relationships with your donors. When supporters feel appreciated, they’re more likely to continue giving to your cause. Plus, thanking donors publicly can encourage others to give as well!

2. It boosts donor retention rates

According to a recent study, 82% of donors say they’re “highly likely” to give again to an organization that sends them a thank-you letter. So if you want your donor base to keep growing, make sure you include a heartfelt thank-you in every communications strategy!

3. It Makes Donors Feel Good!

At the end of the day, donors give because they want to make a difference. But that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a little recognition for their generosity! Saying “thank you” lets donors know that their support is making an impact and that their contribution is valued. And who doesn’t like feeling good about themselves?

Saying “thank you” may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference in your relationship with your donors. Not only does it build relationships and boost retention rates, but it also makes donors feel good about their contribution. So as you craft your end of the year communications strategy, make sure to include a heartfelt expression of gratitude!

10. Write the Email Like a Conversation

Are you looking for ways to make your fundraising emails more engaging? You’re in luck! One simple trick is to write your emails as though you’re having a conversation with a friend. In other words, forget about formalities and technical language, and just write like you would normally speak.

What’s the difference between a boring email and an engaging one? It’s all in the tone of voice. When you write like you’re having a conversation with a friend, your emails become more personal and relatable. As a result, donors are more likely to read them—and even more importantly, respond to them.

Of course, writing in a conversational tone doesn’t mean that you can ignore email etiquette altogether. There are still some basic rules that you need to follow, such as using proper grammar and spelling, being respectful, and staying on topic. But as long as you keep those guidelines in mind, you should have no trouble sounding like a real person in your emails.

Use more “you” and “your” than “we, I, us” in your email copy. “You” and “your” are magic words in fundraising. People connect more with your email when they feel like it’s about them. It’s easy to think that using “we” makes the donor feel a part of the work, but instead they see “we” as your organization and they don’t see their own involvement.

Carolina Herrera once said, “Truly personal style cannot be bought.” The same is true of email writing; if you want your fundraising emails to sound natural and authentic, they need to come from the heart. With these tips in mind, we’re confident that you’ll be able to write engaging emails that will resonate with your donors—and help your cause at the same time!


As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to start thinking about your year-end fundraising emails and how this impacts your fundraising goals. Year-end giving is a crucial time for nonprofits, and your email strategy can make or break your success.