Salsa Blog

Get More out of Your Holiday Email Fundraising

by Christine Schaefer, VP of Community and Marketing, Salsa
This was orginally posted on


holiday donations


For organizations that rely on the generosity of others, end-of-year is the time to reach out to those ready to give. Holiday giving isn't the only reason people are charitable. People give for many reasons: to be happier by spending money on others, to feel important because they’ve made a difference, and to be part of something good. Many, including the financially savvy, are thinking about how to withhold an extra dollar or two from Uncle Sam. *Close to one third of all online gifts are given in December and donors tend to give 80 percent more during that time.

But before you jump in and start blasting off emails, you need to have a plan that grabs the attention of would-be donors and makes donating easy today as well as for the following months, and years to come after that.

As you prepare your end-of-year online fundraising approach, be sure to use a multi-part email campaign with a clear and compelling call to action. Research indicates that a multi-part campaign consistently averages a 400 percent increase in results as compared to the results of a single message. After the initial ask, filter out those who gave and then send a second ask to the balance of that list. After the second ask, filter out those who gave to either message one or message two and send a third and final ask to those who didn’t. The timing can vary between messages from a matter of days to a week.

Timing is everything

After you’ve determined how many emails to send, you have to think about timing. Knowing when to send ask emails is always tricky but is especially so when times are busy. End-of-Year fundraising email blasts, for example, are most effective during these times:

  • Early December: Send an update email early in December reminding supporters why you appreciate them. Note: This is not your appeal, but a cultivation email.
  • #GivingTuesday: This year, Giving Tuesday falls on December 3. Although it started as a movement on Twitter, it has an impact across all online channels now. Make certain you promote it to take advantage of it. Don’t know what it is? Learn more at
  • Before December 25th: Plan to ask by email at least twice before December 25.
  • The last five days of December: Ask at least two or three times during the last week of the year. This is the best time to send your end-of-year email appeals!
  • December 31st: Make sure to send a final reminder on December 31. You should always email at least one fundraising ask on New Year’s Eve, which may be more lucrative in a few hours than some entire months elsewhere on the calendar. Organizations often send two appeals on this day.

Technology can establish a giving addiction

Many groups don’t realize just how important end-of-year fundraising is to establishing a giving addiction both now and for the following year. This giving addiction applies to both offline and online fundraising, but with online fundraising, you can encourage and enhance it in innovative ways. Try encouraging giving addictions through the following strategies:

  • Single-click donations: Why ask for a credit card again and again? It’s monotonous for your long-term supporters, drags down conversion rates, and incurs risk as that credit card is transmitted across the wire again and again. Make it possible for donors to complete their information only once. Salsa clients do this with Quick Donate. Check to see if your email service has something similar.
  • Recurring gift upgrade: The most important time to ask for a recurring gift is right away. You can turn individual donations into long-term, predictable income. That doesn’t just amp up year-end numbers, it sets you up for success next year as well.
  • Ask for “Just A Little More”: If a donor has given as part of your year-end campaign earlier in the quarter or month, maybe even on Giving Tuesday, don’t be afraid to ask them for just a little more on the last day of the month to help you reach your goal. They bought into your goal with their first donation, if phrased correctly (i.e. appreciative of their initial donation), you shouldn’t cause offense. You may be surprised how much more they give.

So now your plan is in place and you are ready for the season of giving, but don't forget to follow through with a "thank you" and let donors know how their gifts have made a difference.

Topics: Fundraising Marketing