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The Year-End Fundraising Guide for Busy Nonprofit Fundraisers

Published by Jeff Giddens

The year end fundraising season, as you know, is one of the busiest and most crucial times of the year for nonprofits. As a result, fundraisers rack their brains for months trying to come up with the right strategy to beat last year’s numbers.

I know you don’t have the time during this year end season to wade into months of research and data to discover the ultimate solution to raising more money in your year end campaign. So I’ve summed up our research with 151 nonprofit organizations into these 5 insights.

These 5 ideas aren’t the typical “best practices” that you hear at every conference and in every “Year-End Playbook.” These are hypotheses based on actual data from 17,263 year-end emails from 151 nonprofit organizations.

5 Tests to Run in Your Year End Fundraising

1. Hardly anyone sends on the weekend. Test a new send date.

Do you email on the weekends? Most organizations do not. Since there are so few that do, December might be a good time to give it a try as a way to cut through the clutter and get your emails seen in your donor’s inbox.

2. Early December is wide open. Test sending earlier in the month.

If competition always is fiercer as we get closer to December 31, then it might present a strategic advantage, and a way to cut through the clutter, to start your year-end campaign at a time when there is less competition. Consider jump-starting your campaign earlier, as opposed to the last couple weeks.

3. Most organizations send four emails in December. Test sending more frequently.

Are you sending enough email to get noticed? If you’re only sending a few, they probably are getting lost. Gain a higher share of the inbox by sending more emails, and continually test to measure the frequency’s effectiveness! Perhaps sending more emails is a way for you to cut through the clutter this December.

4. Everyone sends at the same time of day. Test a different send time.

If everyone follows best practices, then they become “worst practices” and clutter up your donor’s inbox. Try sending emails at times when no one is sending: early morning (6am-8am EST) and late evening hours (9pm-12am EST). You may find that your emails cut through the clutter.

5. Everyone is saying the same thing. Test a different message.

  • “Time is running out!”
  • “Help us meet our goal”
  • “Help us finish strong”
  • “Meet our matching challenge”

Do any of those subject lines sound familiar?

Most organizations use the same subject lines. Invoking urgency and a strong call-to-action in your subject line may be effective in December, but if everyone is saying the same thing, how can you stand out from the rest?

Try testing different subject lines that communicate a slightly different message as a way to cut through the clutter. Can your emails stand out and maximize effectiveness? Only tests can tell!

Cutting Through the Clutter

These 5 test ideas are based on research we conducted with 151 nonprofit organizations. We’ve documented this research, along with 5 additional case studies, in our free eBook – Cut Through the Clutter.

Grow your year-end fundraising revenue this year by learning 10 unique ways to test and optimize your fundraising campaign. Get started by downloading this free eBook today.

Published by Jeff Giddens

Jeff Giddens is President of NextAfter.