By now, you’ve either started sending your year-end emails or will begin shortly.

I’ve spent a good part of the past month reviewing year-end email drafts and have seen several common pitfalls. The good news is most are relatively easy to fix in your upcoming emails.

So as you continue to finalize your year-end emails, here are 10 things to avoid:

  1. Beginning with small talk
    The holiday season is again upon us
    As the weather gets colder… The beginning of your email is too important for small talk. Engage your readers immediately or they could stop reading.
  2. Ignoring the results of your first email
    Your first email is a great indicator of whether you’re on the right track. What are the open rates, click-throughs, conversions and opt outs compared to last year? What are your constituents trying to tell you? Review your results and makes changes, if needed.
  3. Using the holiday season as the main reason to donate
    As you begin to think about your year-end donations, please keep us in mind.
    You still have to show a need and motivate people to give.
  4. Using a tax deduction as the main reason to donate
    See above
  5. Being vague about how donations are used
    Your supporters want to feel they’re making an impact. Giving to the Annual Fund won’t exactly give them that feeling. Neither will high-level language. Be as specific as possible. If you have to raise unrestricted money, mention how past gifts have been used. Or what gifts could fund.
  6. SHOUTING in the subject line
    The end of December can be an anxious time for fundraisers. But by using LAST CHANCE or DEADLINE in the subject line to get someone’s attention, you may also get the attention of spam filters.
  7. Using a clichéd subject line
    People will get a lot of email this December. Avoid using make a difference and other overused clichés. Create curiosity to open your email. Not sure if something will work? Test your emails. It worked for the Obama campaign.
  8. Linking to YouTube instead of your donation form
    If you ask constituents to watch a video, embed it on your donation form. Don’t take them to YouTube. You’ll be competing for attention against puppy videos and they may never….OK, I’ll wait while you watch puppy videos.
  9. Using video that pushes your donation form ‘below the fold’
    While it’s great to include a video on your donate page, make sure it doesn’t push your donation fields ‘below the fold.’ Visitors may never see where to give. Also, add a headline to the page that encourages giving.
  10. Only adding a link at the end
    With the rise of mobile devices, constituents now see even less of your initial message. They also have further to scroll. Add multiple links within your email, including one within the first few paragraphs. And write compelling links.

What year-end email pitfalls have you seen?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Snusz brings over 11+ years of nonprofit experience to his role as a principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud. He focuses on helping nonprofits create online fundraising, email, P2P, social media, SEO, analytics and website optimization strategies to maximize giving opportunities. Mike previously managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell, including the event’s growth from $330,000 to $1.2 million over a three-year period. He also volunteers for Compass, providing pro bono strategic consulting to strengthen the sustainability of Washington, DC nonprofits. Connect with Mike on Twitter at @mikesnusz.

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