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Planning Makes Me Pumped: Outwit Year-End in 2020

Sometimes, I feel like the rest of 2020 is staring back at me from a hazy grey abyss.  Between the mess of the election, the uncertainty of COVID, well, honestly it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I know I do.

This is why taking time outs for planning is our best friend these days. (In fact, this blog post, I wrote in most of its entirety on August 4th! Which current me is very appreciative of.)

Planning for different scenarios is going to be important for all progressive nonprofits. But where do you start? Starting is often the hardest part. I know, I get it. Here is what I’ve found to work for me and our team over the years.

To keep it simple, the planning + execution comes in a few steps.

  1. The Check-In: Have a quick strategy session with your team, check in with key supporters, and get a sense for what kinds of messages, affirmations, or calls to action your audience is going to need to hear. (Or check out this post on preparing an EOY in an election + COVID year.)
  2. The Work: Once you have tuned into what your audience needs to hear from you in the here and now, it’s time to get to writing. Write out all your emails now. Just block out a Friday – seriously, meetingless Fridays will become your best friend in life. (Also, you can listen in on the playlist I used when writing this post). Remember, to effectively repurpose content amongst your audience segments.
  3. The Schedule: When, how many and at what do you send your year-end appeals? Over years and years of helping progressive organizations send email campaigns, we have found the approach below to work pretty darn well.

Thanksgiving Gratitude Email

Set the stage with appreciation that week. Depending on your organization you may or may not want to tie too intensely into Thanksgiving itself given it’s racist history (or read this), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tap into the season of gratitude.
Count: 1 email
When: November 21st – 26th

Campaign Announcement Email

Paint your campaign vision with your supporters – what can you accomplish together. You want them to see themselves as part of the team to make that goal happen. Finally, use this email to set expectations for how often they’ll hear from you in this campaign.
Count: 1 email
When: November 28th – 30th

Ask Emails

Humanize your asks. There is a person on the other end of that email and they want to feel seen and acknowledged (not like an ATM machine). To do this, segmentation will be your best friend. (If you need help setting up segmentation, there are a few email tools we often use that make segments easy MailChimp, Luminate, Constant Contact, + Action Network.)

Part of humanizing your asks will be running campaign-specific segments on top of your normal segments. Consider implementing Campaign Un-openers and Campaign Donors segments. For your core ask emails, tweak your copy for these unique segments. Because of the election this year, many nonprofits are needing to prepare two different asks based on the outcome. Pre-writing your content is imperative. Once they’re written, go ahead and put them in your email tool and schedule them! Everything you can do now, do now.
Count: 6 emails
When: 1+ per week between December 2nd – 31st

Campaign Un-openers: This segment is nice because they have not even seen that first brilliantly written email – so you can reuse that excellent copy! The key with campaign un-openers is to make that subject line super catchy so that they open it when you re-send it to them. You are working to entice that supporter to get past that first impression and get a chance to put their eyes on your content.

Campaign Donors: You don’t want to bombard the people who responded to your campaign with more requests to give – this will not make that person feel seen and valued. Create + update a segment of who’s donated so that you can suppress them from future asks. That way you’re not bombarding people who already given. Instead, take some time to show gratitude emails to this segment. If your email tool is integrated with your fundraising tool and/or CRM this can be a dynamic list that you create based on a set of queries so it auto-updates throughout the month. If your email tool isn’t integrated, set aside the time to do a quick .csv export + import for suppression before each ask email.

Bonus: Send a second ‘thank you’ email that invites them to invite their friends to join them in their support of your organization!

Thank You Emails

Gratitude is critical. It helps to reinforce why someone gave AND the feeling they had when they gave to you. Take your donors back to that feeling of giving the gift, because it is a beautiful thing.  As you emphasize giving digitally, it is important to thank digitally immediately. Set up email automation that generates a thank you email to the person after they donate. (No, a thank you page is not the same. They need an email, too). If your system doesn’t allow you to do such automation, we recommend creating a template email and running a quick query in your fundraising database of emails that donated in the last 24 hours, and create a list to send that template thank you to.

Campaign Wrap Up + Gratitude Email

Exactly as it sounds, at the start of the new year, send an email to everyone you originally emailed your campaign introductory to. Share what the community accomplished, what the impact of the funds will have, and your appreciation! Don’t restrict this email to those that donated. It’s a great stewardship and impact awareness opportunity to everyone in your email list; it demonstrates collective impact.
Count: 1
When: Jan. 1 – 7

I know a lot was just outlined. So, here’s a quick summary:

  • Thanksgiving/Gratitude: 1 email sent between November 21 – 26
  • Announcement: 1 email sent between November 28 -30
  • Ask: 6 emails sent in December
  • Thank You Email: sent immediately after a gift
  • Campaign Wrap Up + Gratitude: 1 email sent Jan. 1 – 7

If you want digital strategy and campaign support, reach out to us. We’re here to help; just complete this form and we can arrange a time to connect.

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