Looking Back at 2013's Last Week of Fundraising, Part 1
The last six days of 2013 have a different meaning for fundraisers. Instead of a post-Christmas “catch your breath” opportunity, they are vital times for raising last-minute income to ease the journey into the new year.
As a donor to 17 nonprofits in 2013 (and a lapsed donor to others), I decided to keep track of the mail and e-mails I received — as well as the receipts for the year-end donations I mailed on Dec. 20 — and share my observations with you.
This week, I’ll focus on e-mails received, and next week I’ll explore direct mail, receipting, and a random comment or two. While my “database” is much smaller than, for example, Who’s Mailing What!, there is certainly much to be learned anytime we take a few minutes to look carefully at what others send to donors to raise funds.
Between Dec. 26 and 31, I received 20 e-mails from 13 different nonprofits. Most were national organizations, but two were from local charities. Save the Children sent out the most — four — followed by Opportunity International with three. Two other nonprofits (CARE and World Wildlife Fund) sent two, while the remainder sent only one in the last six days of 2013.
Preferred delivery day
Without question, Dec. 31 was “the” day for e-mail — half of the ones I received came that day. Here’s the daily breakdown:
- Thursday, Dec. 26 – one e-mail
- Friday, Dec. 27 – two e-mails
- Saturday, Dec. 28 – two e-mails
- Sunday, Dec. 29 – one e-mail
- Monday, Dec. 30 – three e-mails
- Tuesday, Dec. 31 – 10 e-mails
- Wednesday, Jan. 1 – one e-mail (this one was actually sent at 10:05 a.m. on the 31st, but it apparently hung out celebrating somewhere and failed to arrive until 9:10 p.m. on the first)
Not surprisingly, 13 of the e-mails referenced time — last chance, "only 4 more days," midnight, there’s still time, etc. But seven had your basic “business as usual” subject line. This seems to squander a wonderful opportunity to encourage giving, as year-end is a time when many generous people think about getting in a last gift. Also, only one mentioned “tax deductible.” I don’t know if that’s the result of testing or not, but given the sophistication of many of the senders of these e-mails, I suspect it is (and welcome anyone willing to share test results to do so in the comments below).
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.