December 2007

Ask the Expert: When should we end our end-of-year fundraising campaign?

by Patrick Hansen, Senior Interactive Consultant, Convio

Q: We're about to begin our end-of-year fundraising campaign, and we're trying to decide when we should set an end to the campaign — Dec. 23, Dec. 30 or Dec. 31st? If a lot of people check their email at work or sign up with their work email addresses, would the 31st make sense if people aren't working that day? Does it really matter?

A: First, sending a year-end e-appeal (whether on Dec. 27th or 31st) is far better than sending no e-appeal at all. Hopefully, your year-end e-appeal isn't the only appeal you're sending during the holiday season. If you haven't built a creative campaign with multiple touch-points (both online and off) around a compelling case for giving, your urgent year-end e-appeal is not likely to be as effective as it could be. When in doubt, test. While the 31st is the timeliest option, the "right" answer to the question of when to send your year-end e-appeal is "it depends." Who is your audience? Is your email house file composed largely of working-age supporters who may be less likely to respond to an e-appeal sent on a weekend or holiday? Wealthier donors who may plan their year-end giving in advance? Retirees? College students? Are there segments of your file who should receive your year-end appeal earlier and others who should receive it at the very last minute?

The beauty of eCRM is that you never have to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Every email file is different — the only way to really know is to test. If your file is large enough, try a split A/B/C/D test of the same message sent at the same time of day over the last four days of the year (December 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st). Then, look at how different segments of your file perform on different days.  Use what you learn this year to develop a more sophisticated and well-informed plan in subsequent years.

No time to test? Send your year-end e-appeal on the 31st. Then plan time and resources to test next year.

Ask the Expert: When should we end our end-of-year fundraising campaign? | Convio