How Much Fourth Quarter Email is Too Much?

Donor Communication, Fundraising, Intermediate

By Jeremy Reis

As we move into the fourth quarter, many organizations ramp up their email fundraising efforts. A frequent question I’m asked about email fundraising in general and specifically the fourth quarter, “how much email is too much?”

Many nonprofits want to balance the care for the donor while maximizing fundraising during this crucial time of year.  And while it’s important to stay top of mind with your donors during this critical time of year, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too many emails. So, how can you strike the right balance?

The answer may vary depending on your organization and your donor base, but as a general rule of thumb, we recommend no more than two email appeals per week during the fourth quarter. Of course, you’ll want to supplement those appeals with other forms of communication, such as social media posts and direct mail. From December 26-31, you may send an email a day and on the 31st, an email in the morning and one in the afternoon. Is this too much email?

It’s also important to make sure that your emails are well-crafted and tell a compelling story. Remember, donors are bombarded with requests for money this time of year, so you need to make sure that your organization stands out from the rest. Be clear about what you’re raising money for and why it’s important. Share stories and photos that illustrate the impact of your work. And most importantly, make it easy for donors to give by including a prominent donate button in each email.

There are a few things to consider:

  • How often are you emailing your list? Once a week is generally a good rule of thumb. Any more than that, and you risk wearing out your welcome.
  • What sort of content are you sending? If it’s all promotional material, that’s a red flag. A good mix of content—including some educational or informative pieces—is key.
  • Are you seeing high unsubscribe rates? If people are regularly opting out of your emails, that’s an indication that you’re overdoing it.
  • Are people engaging with your emails? opened and clicked-through rates are good indicators of engagement. If those numbers are low, it could be a sign that your emails are becoming background noise.

The key to successful fourth quarter fundraising is striking the right balance. You don’t want to overload your donors with too many emails, but at the same time, you need to stay top of mind during this critical time of year. By keeping your emails well-crafted and focused on impact, you can ensure that your organization stands out from the rest and raises the funds it needs to continue its important work.



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