Email is the killer app for online fundraising.  Sure, your website, social media, and crowdfunding are all important fundraising channels, but no other online medium lets you go out and actively communicate with your donors online like e-mail.  Every nonprofit should be using email to both cultivate donors and make fundraising asks.

In this article, we present some important do’s and don’ts when sending out fundraising appeals via email:

1. DO Keep it Short!

While the common wisdom for regular (snail-mail) fundraising letters is that they should be relatively long, the same is not true for fundraising e-mails.  People don’t like reading long wordy e-mails.  Keep your email solicitations short and to the point.  Include enough information for people to make a decision, then provide links for them to either make a donation or get more information from your website.

2. DON’T Ask for Large Gifts

Very few large gifts are given in response to a fundraising email (at least not without further follow-up).  Use e-mail solicitations to ask for small or mid-level gifts from your list.

3. DO Tie it to Something Tangible

One of the best tactics for getting people to donate online through an email letter is to tie your ask to something tangible.  People like to know where their money is going, and this is doubly true on an impersonal medium like email.  Tying your ask to something tangible is a great way to let people know how their money will be spent.  For example, you might ask for $25 to buy school supplies for one student (with the option to sponsor ten students for $250) or for $32 to pay for 20 hot meals for the homeless.  You get the idea…

4. DON’T Spam

You’re only sending fundraising email out to your own list… right?  Never send out unsolicited (spam) emails.  They don’t work, and only make people mad.  Start a list of all of your supporters and donors.  Send them regular email updates and newsletters.  Then, from time to time, throw in an ask.

5. DO Include Offline Contact Information

Some people from your list may want to contact you directly for more information, or to make a larger gift.  Make sure they have a way to get in touch with you.  Include a link to your website and your organization’s phone number in every fundraising email you send out.

There you have it – five quick ways to make sure your fundraising-emails are used to maximum effect.  Remember that email solicitations should not be the only e-mail contact you have with your donors.  Keep them informed and up-to-date, stay in touch with them, and when you need their help (or money), ask for it.

Joe Garecht Blog Post


Joe Garecht is a nonprofit fundraising consultant, an author and speaker, and the founder of The Fundraising Authority. Joe has been a professional fundraiser for over a decade and during that time, has served as a development director, executive director, and fundraising consultant to numerous nonprofits and political campaigns. As the executive director of Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), Joe led the effort to raise $50 million in endowments for individual schools, raise $4 million yearly in scholarship funds, and modernize and professionalize the fundraising capabilities of over 175 parochial schools in the Philadelphia region. Joe is the author of How to Raise More Money for Any Non-Profit, The Silent Auction Handbook, The Non-Profit Fundraising Formula, and Raising Money Without Going Crazy. All four books are available on Amazon. For more great information on how to raise more money for your school, church, or other nonprofit organization, visit Joe on the web at

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