Simple Ways to Nail Email Fundraising Appeals

Email fundraising appeals are sometimes hard to get right.

They are inexpensive, and easy.

But do your donors really read your email appeals?  Do they even open them up?

How do you create compelling email fundraising appeals that will catch your donors’ attention, and generate gifts?

Digital fundraising is growing in importance – especially for year-end fundraising

21.7% of all online gifts were in December last year, according to Blackbaud . 

And Network for Good found that 11% of ALL online gifts came in the last three days of the year.

Use these tips to NAIL your emails and raise the money your nonprofit so urgently needs: 

Tip #1: Have a snappy subject line

But remember, your subject line can make or break your email.

You’ve got to get your donors to actually OPEN the email — so make the subject line intriguing or interesting!

Tip #2: Talk about the problems you are asking  donors to help solve

There are lots of things you can say in an email appeal.

But above all, describe the problems and challenges you are addressing and invite your donors to help address them.

Tip #3: Save the happy stories for your the thank you and the impact report

Save the success stories for the thank you!

In our EPIC Year-End Campaign series this week, Mark Rovner of SeaChange Strategies said to forget the success stories, and instead “raise money around the problems.”

How’s that for an idea!!

If you still want to join our EPIC Year-End Campaign series – and learn how to double your year-end results, join us . Everything is recorded for you and your team.

Tip #4: Be concise

Make it short.

The more words you have in the email, the weaker it is.

Each additional word dilutes the power of what you already have on the page.

Tip #5: Get to the point quickly

Because lots of people don’t read emails — they are skimming with just a quick glance.

So you have to compress a powerful message into a few words.

Tip #6: Add emotion

Your email fundraising appeals need to churn with emotion. Wear your heart on your sleeve.

Use blistering, vivid words to describe the situation, the challenge, the problems you want the donor to help tackle.

Tip #7: Clear ask

Make your call to action is easy to understand.

Each of your fundraising emails appeals only has one call to action: “Will you help?”

Tip #8: Use a powerful image

Use an image that conveys your organization’s mission. Can you do it with just a photo?

Pictures can be much stronger than words!

Tip #9: Share how donations impact a specific person or group

Show donors precisely how your organization helps others.

Here’s a great example from UNICEF. 

IT’s a story about a 13-year-old girl and how the reader could help her and others like her.

Tip #10: Clean up your donation page

This is a journey for your donor, not a one-time click.

The email is just the first step in your online donation process.

Make sure the entire process works smoothly.

Tip #11: Timing

Send plenty of email the week after Christmas.

Mark Rovner said “your goal here is simply inbox placement.”

Mark says to send emails on the 27th, 29th, 30th, and two on the 31st.

Tip #12: Send more emails!

Mark Rovner said “there is no evidence that sending more emails will hurt donations.”

Tip #13: Suppress donors who have given recently

Don’t re-solicit people who’ve given in the past few weeks.

Tip #14: Segment as much as possible

Email allows you to do sophisticated segmentation with your email fundraising appeals.

Send the right message to the right person,  based on their past gifts or activity with you.

Tip #15: Put the donor’s name in the subject line

Ah yes, that personalization stuff really works!

Tip #16: Keep all your emails consistent

Use the same look, theme, and ask.

Then your donors are more likely to recognize your message when it shows up.

Tip #17: Optimize for mobile phones!

Various studies say that over 50% of all emails are opened on a mobile device.

17% of online gifts were made on a smart phone or tablet.

Tip #18: Thank you page with video

Create a wonderful, heart-warming thank you page.

And add a video of lots of different people staring right into the camera, saying “thank you!”

It can touch a donor’s heart and make her so very happy that she made the gift.

Tip #19: Add urgency

You must, must tell a donors why she needs to give NOW.

Not later.

Tip #20: Use a match

Mark Rovner said that matches really do work.

And if you are not using a match or challenge for your year-end appeal, you’re losing out. Because other organizations are.

BOTTOM LINE: Email Fundraising Appeals

OK what have I forgotten? Lots of things, I’m sure.

How about adding with a comment your OWN favorite email fundraising tips? 🙂