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.
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