2020 Year-End Email Fundraising Roundup

Michael Roy – January 27, 2021

In a year of firsts, the 2020 holiday season was a little… different. 

Zoom holiday dinners. Bubbling with your immediate family. The dying days of the Trump administration. It’s certainly been a year of firsts.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is year-end fundraising.

Here’s a roundup of what some of the top Canadian (and international) non-profits have been up to during this critical fundraising season.


I subscribe to a number of non-profit email lists – a mix of advocacy organizations, charities and political parties. My aim is to get a picture of what these organizations are up to – and what’s new and innovative in the email fundraising space.

I’m subscribed to these lists as a “non-donor.” Due to list segmentation or other factors, other individuals may have received different sets of emails in the same time period.

To research this article, I exported all emails received from each of 30 organizations using CloudHQ, and did some analysis of the data.

What I learned

I examined email sends from 30 organizations:

  • 25 Canadian, 3 US, 2 UK
  • 12 political parties, 18 non-political organizations
  • 463 total email sends were reviewed

December 31st was by far the most popular fundraising day, with organizations averaging 1.9 emails sent that day. At the top end, the Liberal Party of Canada sent seven emails, and the Ontario NDP sent six. On the other hand, I received no email on December 31st from eight organizations that I subscribe to (Progress Toronto, the CCPA BC Office, the Broadbent Institute, Action Canada, Open Media, LeadNow, Council of Canadians and Greenpeace UK).

December 30th, 29th, 28th and 26th were the next most popular send days, with another spike on December 26th.

Least emails sent: 1 (Canadian Taxpayers Federation)

Most emails sent: 63 (Liberal Party of Canada); 2nd most was the Ontario Liberal Party with 47

Average number of emails sent: 15.4

Largest number in a single day by one org: 7 (Liberal Party of Canada on December 31st)

2nd largest number in a day by one organization: 6 (Ontario NDP on December 31st)

Organizations using matching programs? 9

2nd most popular sending day: December 30

Political Parties

I’ve written previously about how political parties have long been trend-setters in the online fundraising space – and it seems they continue to be.

Among the organizations I monitored, political parties in Canada significantly outpace other donor-funded organizations in the volume of email they sent.

Of note

  • The Broadbent Institute campaign was focussed heavily on supporting their direct mail program, with an email and two text messages asking if I’d read Ed Broadbent’s letter. I’d much rather they just asked me for money, TBH!
  • Nine organizations used donation matching as part of their year-end campaigns. This tactic continues to deliver for organizations, and we’re now seeing more non-profits use it.

On eCRMs

This year, we took a moment to look at what mailers and eCRMs organizations are using. Most can be ascertained by looking at email headers and links.

Engaging Networks is gaining a following – particularly in Canada – and BSD Tools remains a popular option for many, despite its impending end-of-life.


As we head into 2021, online fundraising remains a critical and growing channel for non-profits. We still see non-profits playing catch up with the political organizations that pioneered the tactics out of necessity.

What did you think of the 2020 year-end fundraising cycle? Any successes or failures you want to share? Comment below!

  1. Hi. How the heck does “matching” work at a fundraising organization. I got a “we will be matching” request from an NDP entity. Given election laws about maximum donations from individuals, could a political party make use of a matching Program?

    1. In my experience, it’s different for every organization. But for political parties with a donation limit might recruit multiple people to match smaller donations.

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