Giving Tuesday has inspired millions of people around the world to give back during the busyness of the holiday season. Since Giving Tuesday began in 2012, more organizations continue to participate each year, which can make the holiday feel a bit crowded. With so many organizations reaching out for donations, it’s important to strategize how you’ll engage your donors and motivate them to give.
With Giving Tuesday donations happening mostly online, one of the best ways to engage your donors and spread the word about your campaign is through email. A good Giving Tuesday email campaign can help you get the word out early, and motivate donors to commit to donating to your cause. Below, we’ll highlight six different Giving Tuesday emails to incorporate into your campaign and share a few examples for inspiration.
But first, a word about campaign themes
Although there’s no rule that says you must create a theme for your Giving Tuesday campaign, we highly recommend that you do. A well-conceived theme will help to drive awareness, rally support, and make it easier for you to develop content to share on social media and in other channels. It will also help your email communications stand out in a crowded inbox.
For example, for the purposes of this blog post, we chose #GivingTattoosDay as our theme. Why? If every other email in your inbox is about #GivingTuesday, the one about #GivingTattoosDay is bound to stand out.
But why #GivingTattoosDay? Here are five quick reasons:
- It’s memorable. #GivingTattoosDay rhymes with #GivingTuesday. In behavioral science, there’s a principle called the Keats Heuristic that says, briefly, rhyming phrases are easier to remember.
- It’s unexpected. Nobody expects their alma mater to email them about tattoos. Piquing someone’s curiosity is a great way to lift your email open rates.
- It’s meaningful. Individuals choose to get inked for many reasons: to be part of a group, to be accepted by their peers, or to commemorate a significant life event. These are all sentiments that align nicely with our alumni peer-to-peer campaign. Also, recent studies conducted in the U.S. found that 47 percent of millennials have at least one tattoo and that age group falls squarely within our target demographic.
- It’s a theme that’s endlessly “riffable”. When it comes time to create social posts, email banners, stewardship videos, and more you’ll be glad you took the time to brainstorm a theme. You’ll see what we mean by endlessly “riffable” in the email examples that follow.
- It’s easy and affordable to incentivize. Temporary tattoos! Did you know you can purchase custom temporary tattoos in bulk? What better way to show your school pride? Students, faculty, staff, and advocates sporting tattoos on social media could be a really fun way to build awareness and drive engagement.
You get the idea. Now, let’s explore the many ways you can run with a theme like this in your email communications leading up to, the day of, and the day after your Giving Tuesday campaign.
1. Save-the-Date Teaser Email
It’s always a good idea to build a sense of urgency around your Giving Tuesday appeal, and creating a Save-the-Date teaser email is a great way to get folks thinking about your campaign even before you launch.
Pro Tip: Keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm your community with too much information too early in the campaign. Of course, if you’ve built a pre-launch campaign page you can include the link in your teaser email and suggest folks bookmark the page so they can check back after kickoff and keep tabs on campaign progress.
Also, while this post is primarily about emailing your prospective donor community, keep in mind that you should have a separate communication strategy and cadence for reaching out to advocates and volunteers.
2. Launch Email
Your launch email is one of the most important communications of your campaign. It’s your opportunity to convey the significance and urgency of your initiative, generate excitement, and set the overall tone for your campaign. Your first email should include:
- WHY/WHO: The purpose of your campaign and who it will impact
- WHEN: Campaign kick-off and close dates
- WHAT: Details about major matches, challenges, and incentives
- WHERE: A clear accounting of where donated dollars go
- HOW: Easy ways to give
Be sure to inject some fun into your communications and create a little philanthropy FOMO. You want prospective donors to feel like they’ll really be missing out if they don’t click through to your online campaign page.
3. Update Emails
It’s important to update your community throughout your campaign. How often you reach out via email depends on a number of factors including the length of your campaign and your ability to segment your messaging to different audiences.
Campaign length: If you’re conducting a 24-hour Giving Tuesday campaign, you may want to limit the number of emails you send the day of as inboxes will already be overflowing with messages from other nonprofits. Be judicious about your communications and make sure each email has a unique and compelling subject line. If your campaign will run for several weeks or through calendar year-end (CYE), you can and should reach out to your community regularly.
Audience: Ideally, how you communicate with the people who are already motivated and engaged should be different from how you talk to an audience who may be tuning in for the first time. That said, there are plenty of good reasons to send an update email to everyone on your list, including to:
- Remind people about the purpose of your campaign and all the ways they can make a difference
- Report on the progress made toward your goal (e.g., at the halfway point, when donations are lagging, or when the campaign is close to hitting a milestone)
- Alert your community to new matches, challenges, or incentives to keep the momentum going
- Offer other ways to get involved (e.g., post messages of encouragement on social media, share your school’s campaign page with peers)
- Notify stragglers that you’re extending the campaign
4. Extra-Momentum Emails
It’s a given that excitement around your campaign will wax and wane, so you’ll want to be proactive and have one or two extra momentum emails in your back pocket for when donations inevitably slow down. Consider saving a big update, a compelling video, or a heartfelt message from an influential advocate for later in your campaign.
This is a good opportunity to leverage stories from individual donors about why they give or stories from individual students about how they’ve benefited. Stories that put a face and a name to your cause are particularly compelling and can help to reignite passions around your purpose and convey a sense of urgency when it’s needed most.
5. Last-Call Email
The last-call email is your final chance to move the needle on your campaign. A brief, carefully crafted message sent in the final hours is often just the thing to:
- Nudge well-intentioned procrastinators to act
- Inspire a last-minute rally among peers to own the leaderboard
- Motivate donors to take advantage of soon-to-expire matching funds
You should plan to send this email on the last day of your campaign, preferably in the evening. Keep it short and sweet—and direct.
6. Thank-You Email
While it’s a donor stewardship best practice to thank someone as soon as they make a gift, you will want to reach out again to your entire community once the campaign is officially closed with a sincere message of gratitude. Consider preparing a thank-you video ahead of time that shares the impact that the dollars raised will have on your school community. You should also extend special thanks to your volunteers and advocates as part of a separate email cadence. Finally, you should also reach out to those folks that you solicited for donations but did not make a gift. They are still an important part of your community and seeing campaign results in their inbox may just be enough to nudge them to contribute after the fact or to raise their hand the next time you ask.
Looking for more Giving Tuesday tips?
Giving Tuesday is an attention battle: you can win by being the easiest place to donate on a crazy, busy day. Watch “Giving ChooseDay: Pick Your Own Adventure” to learn how to choose the best strategy for engaging your community. This popular webinar is now available on demand. Watch now.