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Are you done running reports for your 2023 year-end fundraising? Good, it’s time to start planning for 2024 year-end fundraising!
We reviewed some early 2023 returns a few of weeks back, and now we’re taking a closer look at email tactics. Email fundraising has become increasingly difficult, but many of the organizations in our sample of 24 nonprofits saw strong results this December.
Keep these trends and tactics in mind as you start to pencil in plans for the coming end of year (and no, it is never too early to start).
Not putting all our eggs into the the 12/31 basket
Even for nonprofits that saw steady year-over-year December totals, the timing of that giving shifted. On 12/31, email revenue was down year over year, but the real downer was 12/30, where revenue dipped more significantly year over year.
After disappointing results with a Saturday 12/31 deadline in 2022, many nonprofits worried about closing out December on a weekend again in 2023. For many, that meant shifting the email cadence, adding more and more urgent messages on 12/28 and 12/29. Others found success by creating self-contained, time-limited campaigns earlier in the month — a flash match, 72-hour member drive, or another way to create a deadline in mid-December, reducing reliance on a big 12/31. The good news is, we don’t have a weekend 12/31 deadline for the next few years — but it still might be worth rethinking the December calendar. Don’t shy away from non-end of year focused fundraising in December. As we’ve continued to see a shift away from annual year-end giving behavior towards donors being more event- or crisis-driven, failing to run campaigns or messaging that connects with those crisis donors can be a missed opportunity.
Adding a low-fi, personal touch
Surveying some of the nonprofits we work with, the average number of appeals in the end of year timeframe didn’t change from 2022 to 2023, but as we discussed above, some organizations moved emails to the calendar mid-month.
Even with this total holding steady, these organizations still sent a median of 15 appeals. Anticipating the crowded inboxes and limited attention of year end ending on a weekend, the competition was FIERCE. One way to stand out in a crowded inbox is with eye-catching design — animated graphics, countdown clocks, fun graphics, photography and more. We love to make the most of our canvas, and those tactics can be effective.
Before we take a look at some of those examples, we also saw great results from the opposite approach: using plain text appeals with personal language to connect to donors. Telling the story or your organization, connecting on an authentic, emotional level — that still matters.
It may seem dispiriting when you craft the perfect email and only .05% of your file clicks through, but we’re still seeing these types of personal appeals prove to be extremely impactful.
Making the match math matter
Hey, those tactics still work. Lots of nonprofits saw success in escalating their match on 12/30 and 12/31. The highest match multiplier we saw was a whopping 10X. Even if you don’t have a 10X match multiplier in reserve, organizations that were able to escalate their match from the typical match made a difference for donors (if your organization only ever has a 2X match but is able to reserve a 3X match for 12/31, for example). And illustrating it with an eye-catching graphic: perfection!
The experiences here and in our previous end-of-year wrap-up post are based on what a subset of M+R clients saw in 2023. For a more robust data set and many, many, many charts, stay tuned for the upcoming 2024 M+R Benchmarks Study! Sign up here to be the first to know when the latest Benchmarks is released.
Johanna Levy is an Account Supervisor at M+R based in New York City. When she’s not planning fundraising campaigns, you can find her drinking iced coffee at the beach.