Is December Really the Best Time for Fundraising Emails? | npENGAGE

Is December Really the Best Time for Fundraising Emails?

By on May 19, 2014


One of the more interesting findings from the recently released 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study was that fundraising emails did not have a higher conversion rate in December. The study found that December fundraising email conversion rates were 0.06%, slightly lower than the overall rate of 0.07%.

Over the past several years, you’ve likely heard a lot about the importance of sending a multi-channel end-of-year campaign. We’ve seen that far more is raised online in December than any other month. And how people give larger gifts.

The assumption may have been people are more likely to donate via email in December. This report, though, indicates that may not necessarily be true.

It may simply be nonprofits raise more online in December because they’re sending more email (along with driving more traffic from multi-channel campaigns).

According to the study, 6.9 fundraising emails are sent in December. October was the second most popular month, with just 2.4 fundraising emails sent.

Move Away from End-of-Year Emails?

The data indicates fundraising emails sent outside of December have similar conversion rates. So does this mean nonprofits should think about rescheduling their end-of-year emails to another time?

Of course not.

More money is raised online in December than any other month. End-of-year fundraising emails have become an important part of online fundraising strategies.

But this data should help nonprofits overcome any hesitancy of sending fundraising emails during other months.

Non-December Fundraising Campaigns

So if nonprofits are more convinced email campaigns may work outside of December, the next question will be “What should the campaign be about?”

An urgent need or growing your sustainer program would be good candidates.

And if  Mother’s Day is still fresh in your mind, you may realize holidays are also good themes to create campaigns around.

Many of us felt some type of emotion leading up to Mother’s Day. We may feel it again for Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July and Valentine’s Day, among other holidays. This type of emotion can help move people to do some good in the world.

Help a mom in need. Give a veteran an all-terrain wheelchair. Honor dad with a gift to prostate cancer research.

Every holiday isn’t going to be related to your mission. But enough probably are that you can create additional campaigns around.

Similarly, you might also build campaigns around Awareness Days, Weeks and Months.

While a National Zombie Awareness campaign this month may not be the best fit, International Nurses Day was May 12th. I know of at least one healthcare foundation that centered their email campaign around honoring a nurse this week.

Reducing the Noise

One advantage of non-December fundraising campaigns is you’ll likely have less competition in the inbox. Retailers flood inboxes with holiday shopping offers and nonprofits send twice as many emails in December, including 2-4 times more fundraising emails.

By simply sending your email when there’s less activity in the inbox, you may have a better chance of connecting with your constituents and getting their support.

What success have you had with non-December campaigns?

Leave comments below or connect with Mike on Twitter

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Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

Comments (2)

  • lisa says:

    Have a nice sharing of health in your hand. thank you..

  • Lydia Nigh says:

    Thanks for this article Mike. It’s a question a lot of us are asking. On the one hand, you might think people are so busy in December and being bombarded by emails asking for funds. On the other hand, people are in a generous mood. Our fundraising coach says, “Just do something!”

    Your encouragement to fundraise around a theme is very valid. Well done!

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