8 Tips for Crafting an Appealing Year-End Email Appeal

December 6, 2016

Email Appeal
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Twelve percent of all charitable giving occurs in the last three days of the year – December 29, 30 and 31.  Don’t make the mistake of doing too little donor outreach during this critical time!

Here are eight tips on crafting a great year-end email appeal that will get your supporters to click the “Donate” button.

1. Get started now.

With so much going on in December, it’s all too easy to let the end of the year creep up on you and put together a hastily written appeal. By starting early, you’ll have time to hone in on the exact message you want to hit your supporters’ inboxes with at the end of the year while staying stress-free.

Once you compose your first draft, ask for second, third, and fourth opinions on the tone and content of your appeal. A great method is sending a couple of test emails to your team and close family or friends through your email marketing software . Ask them to give feedback on the entire email experience, from the subject line to the text formatting to the content and imagery, and get opinions from both inside and outside the office.

2. Segment your email lists.

When writing any fundraising communication, the number one question to keep in mind is “Who am I talking to?” Whether your supporter database is made up of 200 or 20,000, segmenting your lists for targeted email messaging is important for ROI.

Of course, you don’t need to craft a completely different email for each of your segments. Create an email template with slight variations depending on donor age, familiarity with your organization, and specific programming interest.

3. Begin and end with gratitude.

There are so many ways to say Thank You. Often times we wait until the end of a letter or even until after a donation has been made to truly convey our gratitude to supporters. But the truth is, this gratitude should be the first thing you discuss in your email, setting the tone for the rest of the appeal.

4. Treat your Email like a conversation rather than a lecture.

Your appeal should focus more on your supporter than you. As in any good relationship, taking the other person’s feelings and perspective into consideration is the best way to build bridges. Instead of just listing off dozens of statistics about the impact your organization has had, work the supporter into your story. As you edit your appeal, go through it and highlight how many times you say “You”, and how many times you say “I, we, my or mine”. “You” should be the shining winner, with no exceptions.

Email Conversation

5. Make your supporters feel warm, fuzzy…and HEROIC!

Remind your supporters that they can feel amazing while they give. The happy feeling that comes from contributing to worthy causes is real, but it’s up to you to spark that feeling in your supporters.  One way to do this is to make them feel like a hero! As you tell the story of your organization’s mission and impact this year, create a narrative where your supporter is the one that can help save the day, in their own small way,  just by clicking the Donate button .

6. Don’t forget the ask!

It’s amazing how many fabulous email appeals are written- with perfect prose, witty storytelling, and awesome graphics- but without an actual appeal. With so many words bombarding your potential donors’ inboxes every day, it’s important to have a solid, concrete ask that stands out at a glance. Create a clear call to action and place it in your email near the top and again at the end. Make it bold, make the text large, and provide an obvious link or button to click to take action.

7. Send not one but TWO emails out on December 31 

Send 2016 off with a bang by getting out at least two emails on the last day of the year. Your secondary email can be a simple follow-up to the first, which should be more in-depth. The second should go out in the late afternoon or early evening, emphasizing the sense of urgency for the last chance all year to make a tax-deductible gift. “Only five hours left to make your tax-deductible contribution!” is a great baseline.

8. Write and schedule your Thank You Emails before the end of the year

That will feel good, won’t it? Ring in 2017 with no stress by writing your organizations thank you email ahead of time, and scheduling it to go out on January 1. With an automated send that’s been prepared during the holiday giving season, you can feel at ease that your donors are being thanked immediately- and  you can relax into the new year with family and friends!


What has made your email appeals successful in the past, and what do you plan to do differently this year? Let us know in the comments!
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