The Best 2019 Charity Email Appeals

The Best End of Financial Year Charity Email Appeals for 2019

It’s email appeal season! For many charities, the end of Financial Year is the biggest fundraising season. The end of financial year appeal can determine whether they hit their target and can continue to fund their cause and mission. Email appeals are something I watch with particular interest.

As you can imagine, I subscribe to A LOT of charity email lists. Because I support a lot of charities, but also because I want to observe what the trends are and how organisations communicate what their cause needs and how they ask for your support.

Charity Email Appeals at end of financial year

7 mistakes, I mean Observations of the Winter/ End of Financial Year Appeals

I’m seeing a lot of really similar stuff.

  1. Status quo case study for said cause.
    Homeless in car, living in fear of family violence, financial hardship due to illness or disability, species in threat of extinction due to habitat loss, evil companies.
  2. Australian Appeals all seem to be very LACK focused at the moment (which unfortunately DOES bring in more dollars) instead of a positive focus.
    And any solutions mentioned, are very vague. Of course we need emotion in our fundraising appeals, but not at the exclusion of a strong reason for the donor to give.
  3. Really repetitive. Poor storytelling.
    Too often the content of the 3+ email waves is very repetitive. There’s no additional information in subsequent donor emails, sometimes I’m seeing the same email just sent several times!
  4. Charities are all sending at the same times/ intervals in May and June (except for those ready ahead of the pack in early May).
    End FY Appeal Email 1 come out around 25 May.
    End FY Appeal Email 2 comes out around 5 June.
    End FY Appeal Email 3 comes out around 14 or 17 June.
    End FY Appeal Email 4+ will likely come out around 27/28/ 30 June.
  5. The copy in the email is way too long.
    And the donation page copy is either non-existent or too wordy and sentimental.

What else I’ve noticed about charity email appeals

I’ve noticed Amnesty International Australia have decided on a clear template for how they tell their story. The story is told in brief above the first button ask, and then expanded in more detail below the first yellow button.

6. Long form copy – only 1 link/ ask at the end.
I’ve noticed that the Climate Council always tell their topical story about the state of play right now (not a case study) in long form with no links until the very end of the email.

I see other orgs like Plan International and Launch Housing and House with No Steps also choose not to utilise links in the body of their email (in my Personal experience, this is a mistake).

I see Advocacy organisations copy each other with long for copy emails that have an action or fundraising ask interspersed throughout the email, but always with whole sentences, or paragraphs underlined and hyperlinked.
I’m not a fan of this, but if its been thoroughly tested and proves more successful than linking within the body text and linking shorter words and phrases, then more power to them.

7. Bombarding donors with email asks.
I’ve noticed orgs sending MORE emails per appeal. Many more – like sometimes 7 eDMs. This is too many in my opinion, and I imagine they’re seeing unsubscribe rates up as a result of it.

But there has also been some good stuff. Donor Love is in place in many orgs and some donors are getting good experiences.

The Best Tax Email Appeals of FY2019

I’ve checked in with the highlighted orgs to ask how their appeal is going but it’s early days – 30 June is still 10+ days away. I’ll try to update the blog post in July, post-appeal.

One million women

One million women using their movement, achievements and progress as a reason to give. Very mission and action based – support is because of who we are. I like it.

email appeal focuses solely on impact and community

Starlight Children’s Foundation

Starlight’s email copy is getting far more friendly and personal and they’re using gifs and video well.
I’ve been loving their mixture of email signatories and clear asks. Their kid case studies feel less formulaic and more authentic. Except for the repeated reference to the $1,346,879 (N.B. I made this up as I’d deleted the last email with the $1M+ number in it) they need to raise! I think it feels too unachievable and it’s used too much.

excellent use of gifs and video in email appeal

Mission Australia

Mission Australia always has a slick look for their appeals. It’s been very consistent now since 2016.


strong email appeal ask and donor focus

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)

ASRC had a very successful end of FY but mostly because of a wave of organic support from the public when the Morrison government were voted back in. More than 300 spontaneous RG donors! It’s amazing when the community sends a clear message of their support in uncertain times.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s 2nd wave eDM ask was very simple and compelling.
Chanel needs a new standing frame and it costs $12,280. Can you help?
And the donation page is personalised with my name.

clear and compelling email appeal ask

Melanoma Institute

I’ve been really impressed with the Melanoma Institute Comms and ASKS over the last 18 months or so and the Tax appeal was no exception. Really good use of episode based storytelling across multiple emails and a strong mission focused ask and show of donor’s impact.

Melanoma Institute Charity EmailMelanoma Institute Charity Email Appeal

St Kilda Mums

St Kilda Mums put out a very compelling appeal for their new premises. It was before the tax appeal but I believe it flowed into it as they had some short fall on their half a million target to make up

Environment Victoria

Of all the environmental orgs I think that Environment Victoria and ACF ties their advocacy and fundraising together really well.
Environment Victoria is really good at putting the ask at the top of the email and then launching into the context.

Tying digital fundraising to environmental advocacy and mission

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)

ACF did a particularly excellent job in keeping donors informed in the lead up to the federal election and then also to follow through with that messaging of hope and persistence into the tax appeal.

strong and topical link between advocacy mission and digital fundraising

The Wayside Chapel

The Wayside Chapel is always super subtle and embedded in Father Jon’s email to the inner circle, but I always love to see the ask in there – never pushy, always grateful for whatever comes their way (which has been growing exponentially in the last 5 years with wide local community support and some rather high profile major donors).

These comments are reserved for the email Appeal. I won’t comment on the donation pages, because you’ll hear plenty from me in the coming months as I release the 2.0 research insights.

Tips – Where are the opportunities to improve your digital appeal?

I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s easy to fall into a templated appeal – in process and content. Here’s what I suggest:

  • Post a mission and vision or thank you video in Facebook targeted at your donor list and website visitors. Make it about the mission, no ask!
  • Only Send an SMS if you can make it feel timely to your donor “today” (on the day they receive it). And it being 30 June is not the relevant and timely message – think harder!
  • Send less emails but focus on getting a higher open rate and click rate.
    • That means resend (only) to people who don’t open email 1 after 72 hours.
    • Use 3 word subject lines and 50% of the time use first name personalisation
    • Make sure you have the intro snippet set up with a compelling/ intriguing sentence so your donor can see it from their inbox so they WANT to click
    • Have 2 buttons in your email.
    • Make the ask in the first paragraph and then again in the PS.
    • Try a dark image that forces the donor to look hard. But it needs to be of a person – ideally looking at the donor, not of hands or hearts in hands or out of focus moody shots that show nothing!
  • Increase your lowest 2 dollar handles – by at least $15
  • Change your Google Grant brand terms ads to point to the appeal page – keep the description about the orgs mission
  • Put a strong call to action/ widget to DONATE on your ‘About Us’ page and the top 2 content pages (for web visitors) from Google Analytics. It’s a given you should have a strong CTA on your homepage even if you also offer services (which is disappearing in NDIS and CDC organisations).
  • Be brave and make your 2nd wave (middle email) an action ask or watch a video. You’ll get higher clicks, more donors to your site and thinking about the cause – then pick them up with the wave 3 ask. Emails with a video screenshot get higher click rates but donation pages with video get lower conversions. You want your donors to see the video, but not on your donation page.

Well I think that’s plenty for you to think about.

I’d love to know what you’ve implemented and how it performs. And please – comment and tell us which appeals this year have stood out to you?