Tired of sending the same emails every year?  It’s time to give your nonprofit holiday emails a makeover. Happy Holidays emails are easy to get lost in the rush of the season, but there are ways to set your nonprofit apart. Get ideas to spice up your nonprofit’s email content this holiday season to better engage with your supporters.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years… the year-end holidays seem to go on and on, but making the effort to connect with supporters this time of year helps to create and foster stronger relationships.

As an aside, if you’re not a religious organization, we’d recommend sending one “Happy Holidays” email to account for holidays like Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. You’ll be able to encompass all beliefs without the frustration and unnecessary work of segmenting an email list based on religion.

Cutting Through the Clutter

A good subject line is key to making sure your email gets opened. 35% of email recipients open messages purely based on the subject line. Keep it short, urgent, and specific to motivate readers to open the message and get to your call to action. Show readers why your message is important, and why it’s different from all of the other emails they’re probably getting on the same topic.

What makes the email special? Consider what are you asking supporters to do. Look for something a bit more than “Happy Holidays from X”.

Time It Right

You may be wondering when to time a general Happy Holidays email meant to encompass multiple holidays and segments of your audience. Since sending it on the day of the holiday is not as important for 3+ different holidays, try to time this one on a day that week and time that has worked well for your audience in the past. You should be able to look to your email service provider for that data.

Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day emails can all be sent out on those specific days.

Content Ideas for Nonprofit Holiday Emails

Here comes the kicker—what can you add to these emails to increase engagement? What will your supporters connect with? You can say more than the same old we’re thankful for your support and we hope you have a great day with family and friends. Try out the following content ideas to spice up this year’s holiday emails.

Share a themed story

Do you have a story in your back pocket that fits nicely into the spirit of the holiday? It could be anything from a family that gives back to their community together to a client that you’ve helped turn over a new leaf.

Catholic Social Services – Alaska shared the powerful story of a young family that they housed in their shelter over the holidays, calling their supporters to give in order to make these services available to more young families and community members.

Catholic Social Services - Alaska Email

Include a themed photo or video

Do you have a photo from your community that could work here? Look back at your photos from holiday celebrations last year, as well as any photos from the past year that convey the sentiment you’re looking to accomplish through the email. And bonus points if you have a compelling story to accompany the photo.

A video thank you message from your staff or volunteers could also be a nice addition to a holiday email. Last year, Fight Colorectal Cancer included a heartfelt thank you video from their staff in a Giving Tuesday email.

Fight Colorectal Cancer Email

Give celebration ideas that link back to your cause

Nonprofit holiday emails can be an opportunity to include your organization in supporters’ celebrations. Do you host a fundraising or community event over the holidays? Are you collecting holiday cards or gifts for those in need?

Every year, the Young Professionals Division of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis hosts their big Hanukkah party, Lollapajewza. “It’s gonna be lit.” is maybe one of the best Hanukkah event descriptions we’ve ever heard.

LollapaJEWza Email

Encourage and share supporter-run fundraisers

Have an army of social media ambassadors? Or want to start one? Use a holiday email to introduce fundraising opportunities and include a testimonial from a supporter who has run a successful campaign. Facebook Fundraisers are a great option this time of year.

Re-cap the year with a video

85% of Internet users in the US watch videos online. Create a video that sums up the impact your nonprofit has been able to make over the calendar year as a special thank you for the generosity of your supporters.

The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias sent out an incredible video featuring members of their community and the impact that the organization was able to make on their lives. They incorporated holiday themes throughout as a nice additional touch.

NFED Happy Holidays Email

Offer a tour or other opportunity to engage with supporters

The holidays are a great opportunity to meet your local donors in person, taking the time to get to know them personally and strengthening their connection to your cause. Many nonprofits also host an open house around the holidays as a thoughtful donor perk or incentive.

If a tour is not your thing (or not possible for your organization), brainstorm other ways to engage with supporters. For example, David & Margaret Youth and Family Services hosted a “Winter Service Day” instead of a more traditional open house. Use your nonprofit holiday emails to extend an invitation to your in-person or virtual gathering.

Use Strong Calls to Action

These ideas should be a great starting point as you re-imagine the engagement opportunities available through nonprofit holiday emails. As one last piece of advice, make sure calls to action are strong and clear. This goes for any and all emails you send out. Vague calls to action are confusing and don’t do anyone any good.

Best of luck to you as you banish boring holiday content from your organization’s email marketing this holiday season!

Do you have any other ideas for spicing up content for nonprofit holiday emails? Have a question about how to pull off one of these ideas with your nonprofit? Proud of an email your organization has sent out in the past? Please share in the comments below.