The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

5 Email Design Mistakes to Avoid this Holiday Season

We all know that the holidays are a busy time of year, and not just for you and your staff, but for your supporters and volunteers as well.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to make the right choices when designing your holiday and end-of-year email fundraising campaigns.

To help you get noticed and stand out from the crowd this holiday season, here are five design mistakes all nonprofits need to avoid:

Email Envelope with At Symbol

1. Overwhelming readers with holiday cheer.

When using colors, fonts, and imagery to give your emails a holiday-feel, it’s important to find a balance.

You don’t want your emails to blend in with all of the other red, green, and gold messages that will be flooding inboxes in the days, weeks, and months ahead, but you also don’t want to look like the house on your block that’s gone completely overboard with its decorations.

Remember, making your emails recognizable is far more important than decorating them with holiday cheer. Use the colors and fonts that match your organization’s brand first and then use the holiday stuff to compliment your message.

2. Forgetting to use your photo album.

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to develop a more human connection with the people who receive your emails. Whether you’re in the middle of an end-of-year fundraiser or are just wishing your supporters happy holidays, choosing the right image for your email is an easy way to make that connection.

Avoid using photos that look fake or staged. Look at the photos you’ve taken over the course of the year. Do you have photos on your Facebook page, on Instagram, or even saved on your mobile device? (Need a powerful email marketing tool that will allow you to send compelling appeals? You can easily upload your photos with Constant Contact. Find out more.)

3. Dragging on and on.

Being as clear and concise as possible with the messages you send out is important any time of year, but it is especially important during the busy holiday season.

Readers aren’t just receiving a ton of emails from businesses and organizations like yours, they’re also dealing with a ton of other responsibilities that come along with the holiday season.

Do your readers a favor and keep your content short and to the point. If you have a lot to say, look for opportunities to link to your website, blog, or event landing pages for additional information.

4. Making it impossible to read on-the-go.

Forty-three percent of all emails are read on a mobile device, and you can expect that number to be even higher during this busy time of year.

If you’re making it difficult for people to read your emails on these devices, you could have trouble reaching potential donors and volunteers.

Because of the limited real estate you get with a mobile device, it’s generally better to use simple layouts. Often times with multi-column layouts (two columns and more), your readers will have to zoom or scroll on their smartphone to see everything. Using a single-column template will make your content much more flexible for all screen sizes.

5. Burying your call to action.

Not to belabor the point, but with everyone being pulled in different directions this time of year, it’s important that you’re making it easy for people to act on the emails you send out.

What is the purpose of your email? Do you want people to donate? Volunteer? Register for an upcoming event? Make it clear to your readers what you want them to do. And make sure it’s easy for people to take action!

Ready to get started?

Small improvements to your email design can make a big difference for your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising campaign.

Happy Holidays from Constant Contact!

(Already a Constant Contact user? Log into your Constant Contact account and get started today.)


As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan Pinkham helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.

Photo from Flickr member Christopher S. Penn

We’re helping small nonprofits raise more this year.

Learn More

Share your thoughts!

Join the conversation to offer your insight and experience. Have a question? We’d love to hear it!

About This Blog

Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

Read More

Want to raise more money and learn how to market your cause with bigger impact? You’re in the right place! The Nonprofit Marketing Blog is managed by our team of experts here at Network for Good. We’re here to bring you the best in nonprofit marketing trends, fundraising techniques, technology developments, and amazing nonprofit examples.

Want to be a better nonprofit marketer and fundraiser? Get alerts for free tips, key content, and other training opportunities.