Radical Reflections: 8 Prompts to Upgrade End-of-Year Emails

As the year comes to a close, nonprofits around the world gear up for one of the most critical aspects of their work: year-end fundraising. An effective end-of-year fundraising campaign can make a substantial difference in a nonprofit’s ability to continue their mission and expand their impact. According to our friends at DonorBox, nonprofit organizations raise between 17 – 31% of their online revenue in December alone. 

A massive component of a successful year-end fundraising campaign is email marketing. To achieve your greatest success, it is essential to craft a compelling series of emails that will be sent to your most engaged supporters. But, deciding exactly what to write can be challenging, time consuming and – let’s face it – overwhelming!

However, at last month’s Nonprofit Marketing Summit Radical Impact, hosted by Community Boost, I watched a very interesting session from Eric Stehnach (Email Marketing Channel Lead at Community Boost) that tackled this exact topic entitled “Winning Email Marketing Strategies Unlocking Year-End Fundraising Success”. 

In his session, he uncovered a wide range of great strategies for nonprofits but the one concept in particular stood out to me – use a prompt to shape your messaging. Here was his list of 8 great prompts to shape the messaging of your end-of-year fundraising emails:

  1. What we do with your donations
  2. How we help those we help
  3. How much we need to help
  4. What have we accomplished
  5. What do we hope to accomplish
  6. Why we need support now
  7. What that support means to real people (testimonial)
  8. What giving that support means to volunteers (testimonial)

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these 8 prompts and explore how you can use them to resonate with your supporters and encourage them to contribute.

1. What We Do With Your Donations

To convey how your nonprofit uses the donations it receives, consider beginning your email by reminding your supporters about the original core mission of your nonprofit. Share your origin story and convey how far you’ve come. Describe in clear and concise terms what your organization does with the donations it receives – avoid ambiguity at all costs. Transparency builds trust, and supporters want to know that their contributions are making a meaningful impact.

Fox Tip: Bring in the people who understand the numbers best! Ask your operations and accounting staff for their input in order to ensure the most up-to-date information. Ask your staff to record a video or share the process of how they ensure contributions are properly used. Your supporters will appreciate the transparency!

2. How We Help Those We Help

Delve deeper into the specifics of how your nonprofit helps the people or causes you serve. Share stories, statistics, and anecdotes that illustrate the tangible difference your organization makes in the lives of those you serve. This strategy humanizes your mission and shows donors that their support directly changes lives.

3. How Much We Need to Help

Clearly communicate your fundraising goal for the end of the year. Break down the goal into manageable, bite-sized portions, making it easier for donors to understand the impact of their contributions. Be specific about the financial need to accomplish your mission effectively. Your audience will appreciate the transparency! 

4. What Have We Accomplished

Highlight your nonprofit’s achievements over the past year. Share quantifiable results and success stories to demonstrate that you are a trustworthy and impactful organization. Celebrate milestones and show donors that their previous support has yielded meaningful outcomes.

5. What Do We Hope to Accomplish

Paint a compelling vision of what your organization aims to achieve in the coming year. Outline your plans and strategies for expanding your impact. Give donors a reason to believe in your organization’s future and its potential to create lasting change over time.

6. Why We Need Support Now

Explain why year-end support is crucial for your nonprofit’s continued success. Mention any time-sensitive projects or initiatives that require immediate funding. Urgency can motivate donors to act quickly!

Fox Tip: Urgency is best conveyed through the power of video storytelling, as opposed to written word. Record a short-form video (less than 30 seconds) with a “special message” from your Executive Director or Board Chair explaining the time-sensitive nature of this giving season. Your donors will love to see the face and voice behind the ask!

7. What That Support Means to Real People (Testimonial)

You already know we love a story! Including a testimonial from someone your organization has helped is the number 1 way to connect donors emotionally to your cause and demonstrate the real-world impact of their contributions. Ensure the testimonial is relatable and emphasizes the positive change your nonprofit facilitated, like this example from our friends at Michigan Health Endowment Fund

If you love this idea, but are not sure how to start collecting great stories, connect with one of our expert storytellers to learn more about our innovative story collection tool. 

8. What Giving That Support Means to Volunteers (Testimonial) wreaths across america memoryfox success story volunteer experiences

We recognize that it can be challenging to collect stories from your program participants. However, those are not the only perspectives worth sharing! Incorporate testimonials from the people with their boots-on-the-ground: your dedicated volunteers! Volunteers are often passionate advocates for your organization, and their words can inspire trust and confidence in potential donors. Highlight how volunteering has been a rewarding experience for them and how donor support plays a vital role in their efforts, like this example from our friends at Wreaths Across America

Crafting a compelling end-of-year emails for your nonprofit requires elements of storytelling, transparency, and urgency. Using one of these eight prompts to structure your email is a great way to create a message that resonates with your supporters, inspires trust, and encourages them to contribute to your organization’s mission.

carly euler memoryfox

About the Author

Carly Euler
Marketing Manager, MemoryFox

Carly comes from the nonprofit world ready to elevate the hundreds of nonprofits in the MemoryFox community. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Wily Network’s Young Professionals Association, and has previously held positions at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, the Code of Support Foundation, Kenya Lacrosse Association, and the BOMA Project, where she has specialized in marketing, communications, and fundraising. Storytelling has been an integral part of each role.