One Great Jewish Camp Christmas Letter Worth Reading

As we get closer to the New Year, it's time to finalize your year-end fundraising plan. Last year, I wrote about the importance of sending your supporters 4 more emails before the end of the year: one long email from the director on Christmas Day, and 3 short messages with a reminder to give before the end of the year sent on December 28th, 30th, and 31st. Read that blog post to learn more about that strategy and how to implement it.
In THIS blog post, I’ll focus on the Christmas Day email.
Why Christmas Day? Because workplaces and everyplace fun is closed, so Jews spend more time online on this day than any other day of the year. If you send interesting and engaging content, your supporters will take the time to read, click, and think about your messages.
So, what goes into the Christmas email?
Here is a stellar example of a Jewish Camp “Christmas Day” email from Herzl Camp. Holly Guncheon, Development Director, writes: "We saw GREAT results from this Christmas morning communication! It got an okay (35%) open rate, but many positive response emails, particularly from our larger donors, thanking us for the information and wishing us great success in the new year. I'm definitely writing another "Christmas letter" for this year."
What can YOU learn from Herzl Camp’s successful Christmas Day email?
  • Write stories where donors are the heroes: In the Herzl Camp email, the lead article starts: “Because of your benefit concert ticket, we were able to implement a plan which our staff and board had been working on for a couple years. We added expert staff - teachers who return to camp each summer, to provide quality, skill-based programming. That adds up to more fun and engaging activities for our campers such as archery, cooking, pottery, survival skills, and wood-working.”
  • Embed videos: Recycle videos from the summer and connect them to the email.  Herzl’s email reminded readers: “You can catch a glimpse of our new programming in our fun new video. Share it with your friends, too, so they can learn about Herzl!” 
  • Ask your readers to get involved. Notice the quote above - the reader is encouraged to share the video and spread the word. 
  • Make your reader an insider:  Since your readers care deeply about your organization, be honest and share problems and new developments as well as successes. Notice how Herzl does this when sharing news of changes being made at camp: Over the years we've tried many things to meet our families' expectations for communications, photos, and camper communications - often with mixed results. We tried some new things this summer and think they hit the mark for many parents.”
  • Write with warmth, directly from the Camp Director, and use words like “you” and “me.”
If you write a Christmas email this year, let us know about it!

Written by Julia Riseman. Julia is a Mentor with JCamp 180. Julia leads Data2Donors, a program to advance Alumni Outreach, improve camp databases, and raise more major gifts, and Fundraising Fundamentals. Julia has also sparked the creation of many JCamp 180 programs and offerings, including this blog.

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at