Peter Wrinch

Writing killer year-end fundraising emails

I’ve written tons of emails in the last few years, and my favourite email appeals always go out at the end of the year. It’s the perfect time to connect with your supporters, reflect on the past, and ask them to invest in the year that will come.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve helped different organizations with their year-end fundraising appeals. I wanted to share a few best practices you can use to build better relationships and increase donations.

The Ask
The most important part of your holiday appeal is the donation ask. There should only be one ask, and it should be clear what you want people to do. Clarity provides donors with confidence and, in my experience, results in more donations.

As the ask is the primary reason for the email, it should be featured prominently throughout the email. When I was writing holiday appeals, I always made sure that the ask was a bold link after a first short paragraph. I would also circle back to the ask in the last paragraph and even throw another mention into the P.S.

People like people
Your holiday appeal emails should always come from a human. People like receiving emails from people – not from organizations. When writing your year-end emails, think about the person in your organization your supporters would prefer to hear from - it’s likely your ED, a program lead, or the board chair. People love to give money to humans when humans ask for money.

Subject lines
Your subject line is the most important sentence in your entire email. It is the one that will determine (in combination with the name of the sender) whether your email will be opened or relegated to the virtual dust bin of history. You can spend hours and hours of organizational time crafting the perfect email, but if you just quickly scribble the first subject line that springs to mind, all of this effort will be for, get creative – your supporters are waiting.

Here’s a sample template for a successful year-end email:

Para 1 - A compelling intro (3 lines/sentences max)
ASK - Include direct link to donate page
Para 2 - Expand on compelling message in first paragraph  (3-5 sentences max)
Para 3 - Case study/example/social proof that gives people the feels (3-5 sentences)
Para 4 - Why support is important + ask link again (3 sentences)
PS - Yep, ask again

Wishing you the best of luck in your final push of 2014! 

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