Re-Engaging with Past Donors During the Holidays

Jeff Gordy

Re-engaging with lapsed donors can be tough, especially during the craziness of the holiday season. We reached out to the nonprofit email marketing experts at Klaviyo for their tips on staying in touch with donors toward the end of the year. 

The holiday season is upon us and we’re gearing up for a busy season. The end of the year accounts for a huge chunk of a nonprofit’s’ overall fundraising. In fact, 31% of annual giving occurs in December, 12% of that happening in the last three days of the year (NeonCRM, 10 Year-End Giving Statistics Every Fundraiser Should Know). It’s important to reach out to the right supporters at the end of the calendar year and not ask those who have already given to donate again. This can help you to not only raise more money, but also reduce your number of unsubscribes.
Targeting past donors who have not given recently is a great way to start. Past donors have already invested in your organization and you’ve spent time and resources cultivating those donors. We’ve seen that 65-90% of past donors haven’t given in the last 180 days. It’s often easier and less resource intensive to get these past donors to contribute again compared to getting new donors to give for the first time.

How to get past donors to give

There are two components to a good donor re-engagement campaign.

The first is building a dynamic list of inactive donors. This segment should include any donor who has gone a number of days (i.e. 90, 180, 360) without making a contribution. The beauty of this list is that you only have to build it once and it updates in real time. Once someone gives, they will then be removed from your segment and stop receiving your fundraising emails.

The next step is generating high quality, relevant content. We suggest a series of five emails with the end goal of generating an end of year contribution. The content in this series should motivate your donors to give when they receive each email, but you’re building a case so that by the time they receive all five emails in the series, they have been convinced.


Email Timing Content
Email 1 December 6th Impact of their last contribution
Email 2 December 13th What their next contribution will do
Email 3 December 20th What happens if they don’t give
Email 4 December 27th Impact story CTA
Email 5 December 31 AM Summary of series CTA

re-engaging donors during the holiday season

Measuring Results

You put a lot of time and effort into your email strategy. Measuring how your email is performing will help you optimize that time spent and ensure that each send is better than the last. Knowing who has opened and clicked is important, but won’t help much with your strategy. It’s best practice to have a conversion metric in place to measure the success of each email — for example, dollars raised.


Peak fundraising season is here. Reaching out to past donors with a compelling message is a great way to tackle your fundraising goals. Previous donors clearly seem something they in your organization they believe in, remind them why it’s so important using a personal and relevant fundraising appeal campaign.

Click here to learn more about Klaviyo and nonprofit email marketing.

  • Laurie

    I think it is important to do your research and figure out what works best for you as far as fundraising and donations. The same things don’t work for everyone. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

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