For Small Nonprofits: You’ve Sent Your Year-End Letter, Now What?

This post is for small nonprofits.

If you already have multiple emails set up for the final days of the year, great. Move along. Go have eggnog with a major donor or something!

Keep reading if:

  • You haven’t finished your emails yet
  • You’re not sure you could/should send an email, or (gasp!) send more than one
  • You’re not sure if your current plan for the next two weeks raises as much as you need

Here’s the big idea

This graph shows what happens to online giving, by day, in December:

This is why you should send multiple emails at the end of the year.

Think of it this way: your donors are going to be giving during those days. It’s up to you whether they give to your organization or to the other organizations they support.

But they aren’t going to give to you unless you a) get their attention, and b) ask them to give. That’s what your emails at the end of the year are for.

When To Send Your Emails

We recommend a minimum of 3 emails:

  1. Friday the 29th
  2. Saturday the 30th
  3. Sunday the 31st

If you can add another, send two on the 31st. If you can add yet another, send one on the 28th.

The more you send, the more money you’ll raise. It’s up to you.

Is there a limit to how many emails you can send? Of course. But most small nonprofits are so far away from reaching that limit that they can’t even see it. If you sent one last year, send two this year. If you sent two last year, send three this year.

Are you at a small nonprofit that is VERY concerned about sending more emails? Do you, or someone in your organization, fear that if you send even two emails at the end of the year you will:

  1. Cause “donor fatigue”
  2. Get lots of complaints
  3. Donors will stop giving

Please know that those things will not happen. I’ve sent over 500 year-end emails in the last few years, tracked the responses and tracked the complaints. Small nonprofits do not need to worry about this. And if there is a specific someone who should not get them, just take them off the list. But don’t miss out on all the extra giving that happens during the spike you see above — and don’t rob all those donors of the joy of giving — just because one or two people don’t think you should send out more than one email.

What Your Emails Should Say

In a nutshell, here’s what your emails should say:

  • Tell your reader there’s only a little time left before the end of the year.
  • Ask her to give a gift before midnight on the 31st
  • Tell her that her gift will help your organization end the year on strong financial footing
  • Tell her that what you’re planning to do next year won’t happen without the support of her and generous people like her.
  • Ask her to give a gift before midnight on the 31st. (I put this in the list twice because it should be in your email at least twice. The most effective fundraising is repetitive because almost no one reads the whole thing.)

It really is that simple. Think of it like an old-timey telegram: short sentences, short paragraphs, very few extra words. Just get to the point and repeat the point.

Remember, you’re not convincing anyone to give, you’re reminding them that their gift to your organization is needed and makes a big difference.

If Your Org Is Small And Needs To Raise More

The very best thing to do during the last few days of the year (assuming you have an email list) is to send multiple emails to your donors.

The next best thing to do is to buy our Year-end Digital Toolkit. Normally about $150, it’s on sale for just $89. You’ll get proven successful example emails that you can mimic. You’ll save a ton of time, and you’ll love the confidence of knowing you’re following a proven strategy. Just one extra gift pays for the toolkit – and it’s going to pay for itself MANY times over.

You Are The Sacred Connector

YOU are the connection between your donors and your beneficiaries! That’s both a privilege and a responsibility. The privilege is the joy you get raising money and making the world a better place. The responsibility is to make sure your donors know that their gift is needed and their gift makes a difference.

There is no better time of year to do that than right now. It’s the easiest time of the year to raise more money!


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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