6 Steps to a Successful Giving Tuesday Email (+ Examples)

Ryan Jones • Aug 22, 2022
Giving Tuesday Logo on a blank background

Beginning in 2012 as an awareness campaign in reaction to the consumerism and frivolity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday has steadily gained ground and is now the premier day for charitable giving in the United States, Canada, and nearly every country around the globe.

Thanks to the proliferation of social media and the easy-to-share hashtag, #GivingTuesday, chances are your audience is primed to give at the end of November each year. 

But just because they’re ready to open their wallets doesn’t mean that money is going to you. 

The nonprofit space is pretty crowded these days, so you’ve got to do everything you can to stand out. And the best way to get noticed is with an expertly created Giving Tuesday email.

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6 Elements of Successful Giving Tuesday Email Campaigns 

Whether you plan on sending just one appeal email or a whole email marketing campaign that leads up to Giving Tuesday, the guidelines are pretty much the same.

Let’s take a look.

1. Segmentation

There’s a good chance that you’re already segmenting your email lists, but if not, listen up. 

Segmentation is when you break up your one huge main email list into smaller, more useful chunks using tags and filters. 

For example, for your Giving Tuesday campaign, you probably don’t want to send the same email to first-time donors and your volunteers, since those two groups represent dramatically different ends of the nonprofit participation spectrum. Instead, segmentation lets you write specific emails to each group, letting you craft your ask in a way that resonates.

It can also be helpful to segment by average donation amounts, geographical location (especially if you have contacts in locations that are less familiar with Giving Tuesday), and whether or not the donor has given on Giving Tuesday before. 

Whatever the segment you choose to use, the practice allows you to personalize your email communications and create a more immediate bond with your audience.

For more on segmentation, check out the latest here.

2. Email Copy

When you sit down at your keyboard to actually write your email, it’s not as simple as just asking for a donation.

Whether you’re asking for donations or help to share the word about your organization, it works much better when paired with storytelling. 

Storytelling is crucial to forge an emotional connection between your organization, the cause, and the reader.

A great strategy is to frame your email around the positive impact a donation can make. You don’t have to tell a long story; even short asks can lead potential donors along with a narrative that results in giving. For example:

On Giving Tuesday, we need your help to reach our goal of raising $5,000 to save the beautiful, rare, and endangered White Oak Forest in the Pacific Northwest. Your generous donation today will safeguard this unique natural area for future generations to enjoy. 

This example lays out the goal and the reason for the ask, raises the stakes by emphasizing the precariousness of the situation and directs recipients to think about the future and the consequences of not donating. It also shows urgency in asking for a donation “today.”

If you’re emailing a segment of donors who gave last year at this time, take the time to acknowledge their previous support.

Last Giving Tuesday, your generous gift of $50 helped us preserve over 100 acres of endangered White Oak Forest in the Pacific Northwest. But the battle to save the trees isn’t over! This year, we hope you can make an even bigger impact by helping us raise $5,000 to preserve even more of this rare and beautiful landscape. Give today.

This example hits all of the same beats as the first one, plus it shows that you remember and appreciate their previous gift.

Beyond the emotional connection, be clear in your email about what you’re asking for, why you need it, and any pertinent details that may help push potential donors a little closer to giving, such as automatic tax receipts.

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3. Call to Action

When you’re composing your Giving Tuesday email, it’s important that you are only asking your audience to do one thing, that is, donate. Anything else that you put in front of their path to clicking the donate button is just a roadblock to fundraising success. 

So when you’ve cleared the way and are funneling donors directly to that button, you have to have a great call to action (CTA).

Simply put, your CTA in this context is the word or words that are on your donate button. It should be clear, direct, and obvious that the result of clicking that button is a trip to your donation page. 

DONATE or GIVE may work, but you might want to try something a little more targeted for Giving Tuesday.  Since the focus for Giving Tuesday is on one day of giving, try GIVE TODAY or a similar variant.

If you’re running a campaign with a fundraising goal, try suggesting a donation amount that will get you there based on your internal response rate data. So, if your email list has 10,000 contact entries, your data shows that 1,000 people are likely to donate, and your campaign goal is $25,000, your CTA could be DONATE $25

This tactic can also help donors decide to give if they were concerned about the right amount. To that end, you could also have more than one button: DONATE $25, DONATE $50, DONATE $100.

If you use Keela, or are considering using it, the Smart Ask tool takes a lot of the guesswork out of setting donation amounts. 

4. Design

The look and feel of your Giving Tuesday email is important.

You don’t have long to grab a reader’s attention, so you better make sure the design of your email is conducive to capturing donors. 

Usually, that means a simplified layout, not too much branding, and obvious CTA buttons. 

But I’m also not going to give you a graphic design lesson in the middle of this blog post. For that, you should check out Design Matters: How to Use Nonprofit Email Templates to Engage Your Supporters, which does a stellar job of explaining the foundation of good email design for fundraisers.

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5. Timing

When is the best time to send a Giving Tuesday email? As with seemingly everything these days, that’s up for debate.

But one thing is certain: people and organizations are all sending emails at the same time, so it’s in your best interest to try to mash that send button outside peak hours.

NextAfter Institute shows peak email hours between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

 If you send during this time, you can expect your open rate to suffer as a result of competition with mails from more immediately consequential sources, like bosses, school principals, and of course, the onslaught of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotional emails. 

Instead, they recommend sending your email early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and during evenings, when there are fewer items hitting inboxes.

6. Subject Lines 

The battle for attention starts before your audience has even opened your email. 

Your subject line can make or break your campaign, so it’s a good idea to give it some thought before clicking send.

Your subject line should be short, to the point, and compelling enough for the reader to take action. 

There is a lot of room for creativity, but if you need some examples to get your juices flowing, check out our favorite subject lines for Giving Tuesday:

  • Give Today. Help Forever.
  • Don’t Stop at a Little – Give a Lot of Kindness!
  • Stop bird extinction this Giving Tuesday
  • This GivingTuesday, transform the life of someone like Molly
  • Help NMFA raise $15,000 in 24 hours! #GivingTuesday 
  • Jeremy, did you make a difference this Giving Tuesday?
  • It’s not too late – Help us reach our #GivingTuesday goal today!
  • Last chance: Your gift is matched this #GivingTuesday

Also, consider A/B testing your subject lines to see which one is the most effective.

12 Giving Tuesday Email Campaign Examples and Ideas

Need a little push in the right direction to get you going? These are some of our favorite Giving Tuesday email examples.

1. Christian Aid 

Why we like it: Clear fundraising offer. This Giving Tuesday email gives excellent examples of what different donation amounts will accomplish. It also offers matching, which doubles the good that donors can do.

Giving Tuesday Campaign Email Sample by Christian Aid

2. Trickle Up

Why we like it: Links donations to impact. Showing the good that has already been done is a great way to give people the confidence to give more.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Trickle Up

3. The Migraine Trust

Why we like it: They offer alternatives to donation under a unified umbrella using the phrase “good stuff.”

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by The Migraine Trust

4. Books for Kids

Why we like it: Emphasizes social sharing, which is great for donors who don’t have the means to give or who have already given.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Books for Kids

5. International Rescue Committee 

Why we like it: Matching gifts always do well, and this email makes great use of urgency.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by International Rescue Committee

6. Syracuse University

Why we like it: Uses an empowering, donor-centric headline: “YOU can be a champion for SU.” Plus everyone loves a pun, right?

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Syracuse University

7. Heart & Tails Animal Rescue 

Why we like it: Pulls on heartstrings while offering non-cash options such as donations of goods and volunteering.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by HEART & Tails Animal Rescue

8. Baltimore Humane Society

Why we like it: Light and engaging subject matter plus an attractive opportunity for social sharing. 

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Baltimore Humane Society

9. Gorilla Doctors

Why we like it: A great example of storytelling.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Gorilla Doctors

10. Imagine Bus Project

Why we like it: Embodies the true spirit of Giving Tuesday, expressing gratitude rather than asking for a donation.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Imagine Bus Project

11. Best Friends

Why we like it: So cute! Don’t underestimate the power of images.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample BY best Friends

12. Family House

Why we like it: It’s a thank you email that shows the impact donors made. Perfect for priming donors for next year.

Giving Tuesday Email Sample by Family House

Are you ready for Giving Tuesday?

This complete campaign toolkit will help you set up donation pages, events, social media and email campaigns and includes handy timelines and templates to keep you on track.