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Fundraising season is a cozy time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when nonprofits ask supporters to donate and your inbox fills with emails about many worthy causes. Here are a few email marketing trends I picked up on among social good organizations.

What trends are you seeing? Did I miss a big one? Post about it on LinkedIn and tag Cro Metrics.

1. Looking Fresh

Nonprofits large and small upped their visual game with polished graphics and photos and consistently ensured email was optimized for mobile. Fundraising via email remains tied to the letter-format appeal of direct mail. I’d love to experiment and test more graphic approaches that are common in commercial email marketing programs.

2. Generically Urgent

Nonprofits read the memo to put deadlines and matches in subject lines and preheaders to drive urgency, but it was often done at the expense of being mission-forward. The 10 subject lines below could be from any nonprofit. And during a heavy time like Giving Tuesday, deeply invested supporters might find their eyes glazing over.

My quick tip is to inject small bits of mission in subject lines and preheaders to stand out in the sea of special matches ending at midnight. Here’s an example of how to apply this:

  • 😔 No Mission: “3X MATCH: PENDING – and it’s set to expire!”
  • 🥰 Add Mission “3X MATCH FOR KIDS: PENDING – and it’s set to expire!”

3. Match Mania

Wild things were happening in inboxes with 5x then 7x and even one 10x match offer. There’s a ton to test and analyze about matches and I was left wondering,is there a tipping point where the high match multiples may depress either the amount donated or the number of gifts? 

4. The Personal Reigns Supreme

Heartwarming personal stories continue to be a tried and true tactic in fundraising. It’s warm, fuzzy, and feels good. Sometimes, however, this storytelling focus is at the expense of demonstrating broad impact. There’s an opportunity for nonprofits to create content with this in mind (and to do a little content testing, of course).

5. Supporter Record Floats to the Top

Many folks tried placing the supporter record at the top of emails, some above the logo. And, I love it. It’s nice to see the supporter record format evolve. 

If you’re unfamiliar, the tactic is simply showing a supporter their donation history or “record” and may include other basic information like a person’s name, member ID, eligibility for a match, or last gift date or amount. It’s been around for a long-time and the supporter record just works. Trust me, we’ve tested it. I even noticed a clothing retailer borrowing the format recently. 

6. Circle It

Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but the round clock and circle countdowns seemed to be a common design trend as we wrapped up 2021.

Looking to Up Your Email Game? Let’s Chat.

Whether you run one of America’s largest nonprofits or have a small online business, we’ve got some testing ideas for you. Cro Metrics systematically increases the open, click-through, and purchase rates of your email marketing campaigns and offers. Plus, people have told us that we’re fun to work with. To learn more, send us a message.