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!

eNews Signup

If you enjoyed this article and would like to be alerted when the next one is published, please enter your email address

Enews Articles

May 2021

With an Ear to The Rail

November 2020

Are You Ready for Giving Tuesday?

August 2020

Waxing Philosophical About Email Deliverability

August 2020

How to Retain your COVID Emergency Donors

July 2020

How to Ride the Wave and Raise Money During the 2020 Elections

July 2020

Telling Your Donors You Care in the Time of COVID (while still asking for a gift)!

June 2020

The Best $49 You’ll Spend All Year

May 2018

Fundraising With Your Phone

May 2018

4 Things You Should Know About 2017 Giving

March 2018

Navigating the Unknown Impact of New Tax Laws

August 2017

Case Study: Using SMS to Get Donations at Year-End

May 2017

#17NTC 17 Tips for YOU!

February 2017

What (and Who) We Should Be Asking About State Laws

September 2016

Production Blog

December 2015

An Ode to Sharing

October 2015

The Great Pumpkin and the Myth of the Unsolicited Donation

July 2015

Paradox of Choice

July 2015

#Bridge15 Take-aways

June 2015

Lady Gaga and the Importance of Relationships

May 2015

Back to the (Digital) Drawing Board

February 2015

Understanding Donors — The Old Fashioned Way

January 2015

My Four Fundraising Resolutions for 2015

November 2014

The Importance of Being Earnest

October 2014

AMMC Conference Teaches This Old Dog New Tricks

October 2014

Too Hot to Handle … How to Turn Warm Prospects into Donors

September 2014

Keeping Cross-channel Communications Consistent

August 2014

5 Tips for Better Fundraising Copy

June 2014

Keep Boredom out of the Boardroom

May 2014

Functional Creativity

April 2014

How to Raise Money from Baby Boomers

February 2014

Five Take Aways from the February DMA-NF Conference

January 2014

What Kind of Friend are You? Building Relationships That Last

December 2013

#GivingTuesday – Worth the Fuss?

November 2013

Donor Cultivation on a Budget

October 2013

1,500,050 Charities Making a Difference — A Statistic Donors Need To See

October 2013

The USPS Proposed Rate Hike — What Does It All Mean?

June 2013

Investing in Acquisition: How to Get Your Board on Board

May 2013

Redefining Charity Efficiency

May 2013

How Do You Measure Success in Acquisition?