Five Maples’ Direct Mail Fundraising Blog

When’s the best time to mail an end-of-calendar-year fundraising letter?

Many people ask us: “Should I mail our appeal before or after Thanksgiving?”

Well, a lot of appeals arrive right before Thanksgiving.

And, a lot of appeals mail in the first two weeks of December

So you have a lot of competition whether you mail before or after Thanksgiving.

The main points to keep in mind are that

  1. 25-35% of giving takes place between Thanksgiving and New Years, so you do want to send an appeal in the November-December time frame.
  2. Many people set the reply form aside to make a decision later, so it doesn’t matter so much exactly when it got there, but it does matter that you remind them to take action!

It is more important to take the time to make sure the list, salutations, ask amounts, and letter are the best possible than to rush through everything trying to make a specific mailing date.

Having said that, here’s an actual example of a good schedule:

  • November 10 – Letter Mailed
  • November 22 – Reminder email
  • November 30 – Reminder postcard mailed
  • December 4-8 – Phone-a-thon
  • December 27 – Reminder email

Here are the results from that schedule.

Results Chart

Notice that gifts came in during the entire period. Donors save their reply cards and don’t act immediately. Remind them!

  • There was a bump in gifts received after the weekend of December 4-5. This probably reflects the influence of the postcard and the phone-a-thon.
  • And many gave right after Christmas, when they sat down to make their end-of-year decisions.

Recommendation: 

  1. Ask the first time in September or October
  2. Ask again in November or early December
  3. Use multiple channels to remind donors to take action

Need help getting out your fundraising appeal?

Whether you need lists, data work, printing and mailing, or help with writing, design and editing, we are ready to help you! Call me at 800-437-7780 ext 102, or email me today!

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