2016 Digital Year-End: An Inbox Audit

January 31, 2017 - by Megan Buchheit

As 2016 came to an end, inboxes were filled to the brim with fundraising emails. Here’s a quick overview of this year’s trends and what stood out in digital fundraising.

Triple (and even quadruple!) matches. Forget double matching gifts, year-end campaigns in 2016 relied heavily on triple matches and even some quadruple matches. Email after email highlighted triple matches and making 3x the impact.

Emojis. From clocks to check marks to confetti, emojis were sprinkled throughout year-end fundraising emails, primarily in subject lines. They were frequently used in pairs to make emails seem more eye-catching, casual, and personal.

Graphic-heavy emails. Many fundraisers opted for clean designs heavy on graphics and evocative images. These emails let the images do the talking by using short, effective copy that was easy to skim on mobile, rather than long paragraphs.

Countdowns and progress bars. It wouldn’t be year-end fundraising without countdowns until midnight on December 31. And this year rather than traditional thermometers, many emails instead featured horizontal bars to show progress towards the year-end goal.

Invoices. Inboxes were flooded with invoice-style graphics often with charts that looked like they were pulled from Excel. These invoices detailed donor status, deadlines, goals, and suggested donations that were typically personalized for the donor.

Personalization. More heavily personalized and authentically-written emails stood out in crowded inboxes. This emphasis on personal touches was seen in a variety of ways — from customized subject lines featuring the recipient’s name to scanned handwritten notes thanking donors for their contributions, to recognition of their giving tenure or specific actions they had taken in the past year.

A fitting end to the year. 2016 was a difficult, tumultuous year — and this was obvious in many fundraising emails that frequently highlighted challenges and future dangers. The year-end timing combined with real threats to address in the New Year made for a perfect fundraising storm.

These are just a few trends we noticed this year, but digital fundraising is constantly evolving.

What stood out in your inbox? Drop us a line — we’d love to hear from you!
 

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