Writing an Effective Year-End Appeal Email


Year-end email appeals are crucial and one of the most important asks a nonprofit will send out all year. Successful email appeals catch the reader’s attention within the first few seconds and continue to keep them engaged throughout the remainder of the email. These first few seconds are imperative to capture supporters’ attention and so is the content you are delivering.

Making sure to speak directly to your audience will help maximize this once-a-year opportunity, and so will investing the time and energy to outline a year-end strategy. Here’s a quick checklist for writing email appeals that can help make part of the work for your year-end fundraising campaign a bit easier.

Give your Sender a Name

We suggest making your sender the President or CEO of your organization. It may seem like a small and unnoticed aspect of your email, but people are more likely to open an email from a person in comparison to a brand.

Keep Your Subject Line Short

Write a subject line that will get your email opened and read. Be clear, get straight to the point, and offer a sense of urgency or keywords that prompt action. Remember, your supporters want to see you succeed and make a difference, so using a subject line that shows that is imperative. In addition, a descriptive and catchy preview text under the subject line will increase your chances of getting that email opened.

Make the Email Highly Skimmable

Part of the basics of all appeals is compelling storytelling, so make sure to include the main points of the story while keeping paragraphs short — no more than 2-3 lines. Bolding important key points to guide your reader along the way will help to highlight the most essential sentences so that if someone only registers these lines, they will get the main points and know what to do.

Remember the Ask

Make asks clear, direct, and visible. We suggest including an ask at the beginning of the email and consistently throughout the email. Don’t just repeat the word “Donate”, but instead elicit emotion and action by directly connecting the email back to your organization’s mission.

Urgent Messaging

If your appeals don’t spark a sense of urgency, people won’t be motivated to respond to your appeals right away. From your subject line to your paragraphs and images, you need to keep the excitement up and make the donors feel like they are a part of your success story.

Use Images

Your year-end appeal should have specific messaging and branding that underlines the importance of making a gift during the holiday season. Remind your supporters of the problem you’re addressing, the solution you offer, and the action a supporter should take, and do so with creativity! Use images and graphics to make your message visually appealing.

Add Personalization

To improve your chance of engagement, you need to make sure your year-end appeals are personalized and as relevant to supporters as possible. Do this by including names and using your audience segments to add additional personalizations.

Check your Mobile-Friendly Version

Many may be away from their desks or computer screens and are coming across your email from their smartphones. Be sure to create a beautifully formatted and organized mobile version of your email with fonts at least 16px in size and call to action buttons largely visible. Preview your mobile view by sending test emails to your smartphone until the layout is just right.

Send a Follow-Up Email

One email is not enough. Include campaign progress updates and share your excitement with your supporters so that they feel like valued members of your community. This is also your chance to show your appreciation for your supporters who have already contributed to your year-end progress as well as share more key points on your mission and future goals throughout the upcoming year.

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