October 14, 2016

Send Better Holiday Card Mailings

Almost every nonprofit will produce a holiday card mailing in the month of December. The motivation behind this mailing generally is one or more of the following:

  • Thanking the donor.
  • An opportunity to make one final ask before the end of the year.
  • “We have always done a holiday mailing.”
  • “Every other nonprofit will send a holiday card. We cannot be the only one not doing it.”

Let’s address these reasons one by one:

Thanking the donor is great, but the very first thank you immediately following their most recent contribution is the most important. No amount of holiday cards can make up for it if your thank-you letter isn’t any good, or mailed on time.

If you plan on combining a holiday card with an ask, please don’t.

I am not against holiday card mailings, but they can be done much more effectively. More on that in a moment. Continuing to send them because you always have, is a clear sign that this process needs rethinking. The good news: by reading these suggestions, you are already taking the first step!

“Everybody else is doing it…” is not a compelling argument. You want to stand out to your donor in a positive and unique way. Being one of twenty organizations your donor receives a Happy Holidays card from, does not help you set yourself apart.

Ideas for a Better Holiday Card Mailing

 You can stand out by breaking the typical cycle for year-end mailings. This year, try doing something unique and different.

  • Send a Thanksgiving Card: If the goal is to thank your donors, why not give thanks on the national day of Thanksgiving? It reinforces your idea of donor appreciation, and it might help inspire an extra gift before all charitable giving and holiday spending has been allocated.
  • Send a New Year’s Greeting: The benefit of sending a New Year’s greeting is that it creates an opportunity for you to set the stage for the year ahead. Wish your donors a wonderful year, and also share with them what you as an organization hope to accomplish in the year ahead. This will also help you set the tone for your spring appeal.

If you need to send a holiday card, make it as unique and personal as you can. If time and budget allows, get a greeting card from the store. Hand-sign it, and use a holiday stamp. Your card may be one of many holiday cards your donor receives, but your personal touch will set it apart.

About Marc Huber

Marc Huber is a fundraising professional with over seventeen years of experience, including strategic messaging, board development, annual giving, capital campaigns, and volunteer consultation and training. He's also the author of The Fundraising Co-Pilot.

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