[Year-End Fundraising] Email Frequency and Cadence

How many emails are too many?

What’s the best timing for your year-end emails?

Frequency is simply how many times emails are sent. Cadence is the pattern of your email drop, the spacing or timing.

Frequency and cadence for year-end fundraising are unique from any other time of year. With the year-end tax deadline looming, we’ve learned in recent years that, assuming high quality content, increasing your email frequency is more likely to increase your revenue without angering your donors or skyrocketing your opt-out rate.

Important to remember: the same frequency for the same audience another time of year could easily spike unsubscribes and complaint rates, so be careful. Behavior is everything: review your email open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates daily see how they are affected by varying frequency.

2013 Example: Mozilla 2013 Year-End Fundraising Campaign

In the spirit of transparency, Mozilla, the nonprofit developers of Firefox browser, published their 2013 End of Year Fundraising Campaign plan last month, as an Infographic, and we’re sharing it below as just one example of the frequency and timing of a year-end fundraising campaign.

Mozilla 2013 End of Year Fundraising Campaign

Mozilla 2013 End of Year Fundraising Campaign - http://valianttry.us/?p=42

This is a brilliant map of how the frequency of communication ramps up during December across all communication channels, not just email. Mozilla’s game plan is to explore each of Mozilla’s major mission themes starting with a Blog post by a Mozilla executive. The Blog post sets the communication agenda and language for each month culminating in a year-end appeal. This communication plan gives Mozilla time and multiple communication channels to make their case for Mozilla’s unique mission, ability to deliver on that mission, and appeal for financial support well in advance of the competitive last week of December. Stay tuned. We’ve got more great examples from 2012

Donors Wait Until the Last Week of the Year to Make Donations

Before we get into more examples from last year’s campaigns, here’s what we’ve gleaned from most recent year-end fundraising behavior about donor behavior:

  • Donors definitely wait until the last week of the year to make donations. You might be better off saving your “matches” or “premiums” for the last week of year-end to boost your response even more.
  • Engagement emails in early December worked better than fundraising appeals, and we suspect, help make the case for year-end giving decisions later in December. Engagement emails might include a survey asking for opinions on next year’s program priorities or a petition that solicits a donation on the completion page.
  • Generally speaking, nonprofits that email more aggressively the last week of the year, also raised more money, but this was only true for the last week of the year. Consider a minimum of two to three emails the week of December 26 – December 31.
  • We’ll explore “Messaging” as part of this [Year-End Fundraising] series next week, but remember that you’ll need enough emails to “make your case for giving,” to communicate your message, or to support your direct mail campaign, or to simply share your narrative arc–whatever your year-end strategy is. (This will all make more sense with next week’s post)

2012 Year-End Frequency and Cadence Examples

We don’t have web versions of all the emails referenced below, but where we do, we share them. Please remember not to copy these emails. These examples are for learning and inspiration. Not to be copied word-for-word.

HealthConnect One Case Study

This HealthConnect One 2011 case study is a few years old, but shows a pretty typical email campaign coordinated with a direct mail piece arriving in mailboxes the first week of December. It offers a good example of narrative arc as well.

  • Email #1: Dec 2     Have you ever been a baby?
  • Email #2: Dec 15   Over 143,000 babies were born in the U.S. since our last email!
  • Email #3: Dec 23   We were all babies once!
  • Email #4: Dec 31   Happy New Year from HC One!

Wounded Warrior 2012 Year-End Campaign

  • Email #1: Dec 1      Reserve Your 2013 Member Card Today
  • Email #2: Dec 7      Honor Injured Heroes Who Can’t Be home for the Holidays
  • Email #3: Dec 15    eNewsletter – Wounded Warrior Project
  • Email #4: Dec 20   Your Support is Still Needed This Season
  • Email #5: Dec 24    Thank You for Your Dedication and Happy Holidays
  • Email #6: Dec 27   Only a Few Days Left in 2012! Support Wounded  Heroes Today
  • Email #7: Dec 30   One Last Chance to Make a Difference in 2012

UNICEF 2012 Year-End Email Campaign

  • Email#1: Dec 3        Think of children this holiday season
  • Email #2: Dec 6       Announced: New $250,000 holiday giving match
  • Email #3: Dec 9       Powerful food for starving children
  • Email #4: Dec 11     Deadline — help traumatized children
  • Email #5: Dec 12    MATCH and shipping DEADLINE tonight
  • Email #6: Dec 26    6 reasons to believe
  • Email #7: Dec 28    BREAKING: New MATCH for children
  • Email #8: Dec 29    The “cold chain” that saves millions
  • Email #9: Dec 30    24 hours left before MATCH expires
  • Email #10: Dec 31  Last night’s suprise
  • Email #11: Dec 31  Last hours to save a life

charity: water 2012 Year-End Email Campaign

  • Email #1: Dec 1       We hit our September Campaign goal!
  • Email #2: Dec 4       A brand new technology from charity: water and Google
  • Email #3: Dec 5       Holiday gifts, charity: water style
  • Email #4: Dec 13     100 Wells for the Holidays
  • Email #5: Dec 16     charity: ball was a success
  • Email #6: Dec 19     New Video: Celebrating 2012!
  • Email #7: Dec 27     One minute and $20 can change a life
  • Email #8: Dec 31     Close out 2012 by giving clean water

 American Red Cross 2012 Year-End Email Campaigns

  • Email #1:   Dec 4     Willing to do whatever it takes
  • Email #2:   Dec 6     Give a gift that gives all year-round
  • Email #3:   Dec 11   This heartwarming moment made possible by you
  • Email #4:   Dec 14   One more day
  • Email #5:   Dec 18   Even a toothbrush can provide hope
  • Email #6:  Dec 20   Top 3 gifts to give
  • Email #7:   Dec 24   No wrapping required – easy holiday gifts
  • Email #8:   Dec 26   Incredible acts of kindness
  • Email #9:   Dec 30  It’s simple
  • Email #10: Dec 31  Do something incredible
  • Email #11: Dec 31   Make your final tax-deductible 2012 gift today

[Year-End Fundraising] Series

Starting last week and for the next several Fridays, we’re running a series of strategies and tips you can put to use immediately to have your best online year-end fundraising campaign ever. Today’s email is the second in the series.

  • Your Campaign Brief
  • Email Frequency and Cadence
  • How to Structure a Powerful Email
  • Narrative arcs
  • List segmentation
  • Making the most of a matching gift campaign
  • Your Landing Page
  • Your Year-End Lightbox
  • Using social media to boost your year-end revenue
  • Split A/B testing – what’s important to test and how to test it
  • Any other topics YOU ask us to cover. Click Let’s Ask Mandy to submit a question.